Because an internal medicine (IM) residency is an essential step towards a career in numerous sub-specialties, IM residency matching is particularly competitive. Therefore, including an internal medicine personal statement in your application package that helps you stand apart from the crowd is especially important.
Despite so many applicants with a variety of long-term goals either in IM or a subspecialty, IM residency selectors really want to read about your interest in IM and working with IM patients. They need to know that you’re passionate about being part of their IM residency program and have the personality and background to do the day-to-day work of being an internist. Follow these guidelines to make your internal medicine personal statement grab and hold the selector’s attention.
How to Stand Out
1. Start with an experience related to IM
Yes, almost all internal medicine residency personal statements will begin this way. And yes, it is exactly what you should do, too. However, it is important that the anecdote that you choose make direct connections to the skills that you will use during your IM residency. Any anecdote that relates to managing a patient with multiple diagnoses, finding a correct diagnosis that required going beyond presentation of symptoms/initial testing or collaborating with physicians in other specialties to devise a tailored plan to suit the patient’s needs will show the IM residency selectors that you have the right mindset for internal medicine.
2. Focus on analytical skills
Working with IM patients can require significant detective skills. For this reason, make problem solving skills a focal point. Using a detective or Sherlock Holmes analogy is not uncommon in IM medical residency personal statements, and this works well when it is done well. If you choose this route, remember not to get so involved in the literary device that it takes over the statement. The main goal is to convey your ability to follow the facts wherever they lead to provide the highest level of care to each patient.
3. Highlight research skills
Finding the right course of treatment for IM patients, especially those with multiple diagnoses, often means digging into the literature. To demonstrate this to the IM residency selectors, you might want to include this as part of a larger paragraph on research experience (if you played a major role in conducting the literature review) or as part of a second anecdote specifically about a patient where consulting the literature was necessary.
4. Discuss working with other providers
From Family Practitioners to Pathologists, internists frequently consult with other providers. Therefore, writing about your ability to work effectively as part of a healthcare team, especially having productive and effective interactions with providers from a variety of specialties, is an important aspect of your internal medicine residency personal statement. Also, emphasize your ability to be a leader as the primary advocate for your patient’s overall health and well-being.
5. Demonstrate your desire to build long-term relationships
Because IM patients may work with the same internist for years or even decades to manage chronic illnesses, the ability to build strong physician/patient rapport and earn a patient’s trust is an imperative aspect of the specialty. Additionally, these long-term relationships mean that IM doctors often get to know not only the patient personally but their loved ones. Let the selectors see that you are interested in patient care, patient education, and forming lasting bonds with your patients.
Bonus Tip: While it’s fine to mention long-term goals beyond IM, don’t overdo it.
As stated above, many residents pursue IM training as either a supplement to a specialty or as part of a path to a subspecialty. Although it’s perfectly fine to be forthright about your career plans, remember to be clear that securing a spot in an IM residency program means more to you than just a means to an end. Always show that IM is where you really want to be at this stage in your career progress and that you are passionate about the opportunity to join an internal medicine residency program.
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