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. An additional editing step by Career Advising is available June – September in advance of residency applications
    • Details posted in late spring
  5. Review & edit 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.