Personal Statement

An essential component of the residency application, the personal statement is a one-page narrative describing your personal inspiration for your specialty and your goals for residency and beyond.

Personal statements may also be required when applying to scholarships, away rotations, programs, or research opportunities. The essay:

  • Is personal – it expresses your personality and style
  • Often includes a description of an influential experience or individual who inspired your career choice
  • Describes what you are looking for in the program to which you are applying
  • Defines your future professional goals in general and within a specialty area

Steps for Writing a Personal Statement

  1. Watch the two-part Personal Statement for the Medical Student Video Series
    • Purpose and the Writing Process
    • Content and Editing
  2. Begin drafting by using Brainstorming Worksheet
  3. Edit and proofread – use the Editing Checklist
    • Includes advice from each Specialty Career Advisor (SCA)
  4. Submit a draft of your personal statement to Career Advising for review via Microsoft Forms (only for those participating in Match 2022)
    1. Available June 3 – September 12 (11:59pm PT)
    2. You will receive feedback within 2 weeks
    3. Only one review per student, even if you are dual applying – ensures all students are able to access this service
    4. To get the most from our feedback, we recommend you have multiple individuals review your statement prior to submission
  5. Continue the review review & editing process via your peer and professional networks

  1. The best personal statements are those that focus on the personal element of who you are as a person and as a medical professional.
  2. Use active rather than passive verb tense: e.g. “Dr. X delivered me” instead of “I was delivered by Dr. X.”
  3. Make your descriptions of your experiences come alive. Highlight what you learned from them and how they influenced you. By the end of the essay, the reader should have a portrait of who you are in relationship to your specialty and career choice.
  4. You may be able to describe qualities you share with physicians in your intended field through a non-medical experience.
    • E.g. a summer construction job might illustrate the pleasure of using tools to create something new and the satisfaction of seeing a home completed.
  5. Think about qualities that drew you to this specialty, and then illustrate your interest with examples.
    • E.g. your love of working with your hands and the enjoyment you glean from seeing a patient’s quality of life improve; your desire to work with underserved populations, the opportunity to serve people across their life span, or your commitment to prevention
  6. After you draft your essay, put it aside for a few days; distance will give you perspective.

Engage the reader early. Make the reader curious about you, your choice of specialty, and what attributes and skills you have to offer to their program.

Ideas for how to do this:

  • Share a personal or professional experience that hints at who you are and the attributes and skills you have to offer
  • If you feel stuck, try brainstorming and writing about what makes you unique, how you arrived at your specialty, and what attributes and skills you bring.

As you start, don’t focus on needing to make your personal statement perfect. It is common that students feel pressure to show some impressive award, activity or unique background, but residency directors also want to get a sense of who you are and if you are a fit with their program.

Focus on writing a statement that reflects your voice, without being too informal, and demonstrates you are a great fit.

  • To help brainstorming, interview your mentor, friends and family to ask what they think are your strengths. This will help you identify what makes you unique.

Personal statements created outside of the MyERAS system should be converted to a plain text document (e.g. Notepad or SimpleText).

  • Microsoft Word or other word processing software may contain hidden formatting that may not translate well into the MyERAS system.
  • Print your personal statement out of MyERAS to review before submitting.

You may upload an unlimited number of personal statements in ERAS for purposes of customizing statements for particular residency programs. This can be useful when:

  • applying to your top choice programs
  • if geographic bias might be present
  • if the program does not have a history of matching with UW students
  • if the program you’re applying to requires a personalized personal statement
    • we strongly urge you to review every program’s website for which you are applying, to see if there are specific requirements for that program
  • if you are dual applying to multiple specialties

In a personalized statement you should call out appealing aspects of the program, such as curricular elements or mission-focused initiatives.

Be careful that you assign the correct statement to the associated program.

You may wonder if you should address personal and/or academic issues in your personal statement.

If you have had significant academic and/or personal issues, it may be important to address these, but it depends greatly on your academic profile, specialty of choice, and career goals. Consult with Career Advising, your Specialty Career Advisor(s), and/or Dr. Maya Sardesai to determine if you should address these issues in your personal statement and how to strategically address them in writing.