5 Important Considerations for your Residency Personal Statement

By Ryan Hickey + updated on July 26th, 2011

Medical application season is in full swing so EssayEdge wanted to use today’s blog post to provide some guidance specifically tailored to residency applicants. If you’re working on your residency personal statement and wondering how to write a great one, look no further. Follow these pieces of advice to ensure that you’re on the right track in your residency statement.

This is not your application to medical school!

Hey! You’re a doctor! You do not need to explain to the residency director why you wanted to become a doctor — unless, of course, your goal all along has been this target residency.

But many candidates are applying for several different types of residency, or even more likely, to a large variety of different institutions. They do this because they remain unsure of what specialty they will ultimately pursue, or at least unsure of where they have a chance to get accepted.  This does not have to be a problem.  It only presents a problem if you think the same essay is going to work for different types of residencies in all different locations – because that isn’t the case.

Take the time to ensure your statement is tailored to the specific residency you’re seeking.

What quality is most valued in this type of residency?

Anesthesiologists and radiologists have to be great team players. Internists and family practitioners have to be great diagnosticians who are passionate about continuum of care and preventive medicine. Each type of medical residency tends to require specific qualities in the best applicants.  If you are not sure of what qualities are most valued in the residency for which you are applying, the best thing to do is go online and find out.  Know your audience! Know what they are looking for in applicants!  If you can provide evidence that you have those qualities, you are well on your way to winning them over.

Don’t be afraid of your resume.

Many candidates believe that the material on their resume should be avoided in their personal statement.  While it’s true that a statement should be much more than a resume in essay form, there’s no reason to avoid mentioning accomplishments and past experiences in your statement. This is particularly true if you’re elaborating on those experiences, going deeper into them than you are able to in your resume. You can actually play to the strengths of your resume in your personal statement, by selecting the one or two highlights of your resume and developing those in the context of what the residency director is seeking in applicants. Again, just make sure to offer greater detail than your resume is able to, and avoid turning your statement into a laundry list of accomplishments.

It’s not all about doctoring.

Again: As a resident, you are already a doctor.  It may be that the strengths and qualities most valued in the residency for which you are applying are best demonstrated in your extracurricular activities, such as sports or artistic endeavors.  Don’t be afraid to develop these themes in your essay for residency. The more “personal” your residency statement can be, the better. If you can point to specific extracurricular activities that distinguish your character and play to what the residency director seeks in applicants, by all means do so.

Where are you going?

What are your goals in residency? What is your long-term goal as a doctor? The candidate who knows not only where she or he has been, but where she or he is going, tends to be the candidate who appears to be the most focused. This can serve your best interests in your essay for residency.

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Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to aid others in achieving their educational goals and, when he gets a break, loves hiking and fly fishing with his wife and two border-collie mixes.

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