Writing the personal statement for residency
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Writing the Personal Statement for Residency. Writing Consult Center and Office of Student Affairs. Goals for the Personal Statement essay:. Get an interview Guide the interviewer. How do they choose?. What are the program directors looking for?.

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Writing the personal statement for residency

Writing the Personal Statement for Residency

Writing Consult Center


Office of Student Affairs

Goals for the personal statement essay

Goals for the Personal Statement essay:

Get an interview

Guide the interviewer

What are the program directors looking for

What are the program directors looking for?

What are the reviewers trying to learn about you?

Reading a personal statement is like meeting someone
“Reading a personal statement is like meeting someone…

It’s like remembering a face– ‘Oh yes, I

remember her.’ Some personality,

some individuality should come

through. I want to be able to say,

“That’s the person who….”

Personal life events
Personal life events

“Personal life events that had an impact on

you are important, positive or negative, but

don’t spend half the essay on them.”

Grab my attention
“Grab my attention.”

“I want to know who you are, why you are a

doctor and why you want to become an

anesthesiologist [or xxxx] and where you’re

possibly going with this training in the


“Somewhere in the essay, work in some

comments about your strengths. All

residency directors know that not every

student will be at the top of the class or have

every possible “stellar resident” attribute.

However, some comments about

determination, hard work, intellect, values,

and special skills will catch my attention.”

Personal story
Personal story

“Just a bit if it is conventional, more if it is unusual & relevant.”

But actually….

Personal story1
Personal story

Concrete, not abstract:

“I look for personal stories that really tell me something about the applicant. The ‘I love kids’ doesn’t work as well as a patient encounter or any kind of story about how things could have been done better. Insight is always good.”

“Not mentioning significant academic

difficulty doesn’t mean we won’t see it on the

transcript or read it in the Dean’s letter. This

is a good opportunity to explain what

happened– and is particularly important if

the explanation suggests that the problem is

not likely to recur.”

3 special experiences that guided you to select this specialty

3. Special experiences that guided you to select this specialty

Why you’re well-suited to this field

Selecting the specialty
Selecting the specialty specialty

“Most of the reasons we’ve heard

before. But an applicant’s own process

of decision is individual and needs to

be heard in his or her own words.”

Selecting the specialty1
Selecting the specialty specialty

“I like the essays that tell about the

applicant’s past– if it was a struggle, or

why in general he or she would make a

good [ pediatrician, anesthesiologist,

surgeon,etc.]. Insight is always good.”

“Let me know what you are looking for in a specialty

program. I’m going to invite people to

interview who I believe are looking for the

things that we offer. Be honest about your

future goals. If you want to do clinical or

basic science research, make sure you bring

it up.”

Avocations specialty

“This might not be appropriate in an

essay that is, of necessity, very serious

or in which a good portion of effort is

devoted to explaining academic

difficulty, for example.”

“The personal statement should be specialty

personal and real. I use it a lot to

structure my interview.”

“Above all, be honest. specialty

Dishonesty will kill the application.”

3 areas of attention
3 areas of attention specialty

  • Content

  • Form

  • Mechanics


Content specialty

Create a coherent

life story


coherent specialty

Sticking together,

Logically connected & intelligible

Coherent? specialty

  • It had been dry for a long time. No rain had fallen for more than a month.

  • We had a beautiful home.

  • Now I want to be a dermatologist.

A coherent life story
A coherent life story specialty

  • Direction

  • Dedication

  • Purpose

  • Energy

A coherent life story1
A coherent life story? specialty

  • 12 year old sister with leukemia died

  • Played basketball for K-State

  • Rafting instructor for 3 years after college

  • Decided to go to medical school

A coherent life story2
A coherent life story? specialty

  • 12 year old sister with leukemia died.

  • Volunteered at hospital 3 years in college.

  • Did research in oncology lab at KU for 2 summers.

  • Decided to go to medical school. Hope to become a pediatric oncologist.

Form how to structure the essay

Form: specialtyHow to structure the essay

Hook your reader.

Show logical flow.

The formula

The formula specialty

Begin with a personal story,

Go to theory, or what the story means.

Explore alternatives to the formula

Explore alternatives to the formula specialty

Slight rearrangements

A different opening

Form specialty

  • No longer than one page.

  • 6 paragraphs maximum.

  • “Leave some white space! One big gray page turns me off.”

Mechanics of good writing
Mechanics of good writing specialty

“Make sure to check for errors– this is the biggest no- no to me. If you don’t write well, it doesn’t bode well for you.”


Mechanics specialty

Grammar, spelling, diction, syntax, punctuation, tone, and style.

Mechanics of good writing1
Mechanics of good writing specialty

  • Competently written in standard English.

  • Workmanlike to Creative: the continuum.

Clarity specialty

“If you don’t have confidence in yourself as a

writer, keep it simple. One idea per


Tone and style

Tone and style specialty

Tone and style1
Tone and style specialty

“ Don’t be dramatic or effusive.”

“ Be careful in touting your accomplishments. Tone is important. Sounding egotistical or boastful makes a bad impression.”

Proofreading and editing
Proofreading and editing specialty

“Get input from others. Have at least

one other person read the essay.”

“Good writing is re-writing. Read and

edit it several times.”

“Let it cool off before submitting it with the

application. If it sounds corny or trite to you or

perhaps even too strong, rewrite!”


Clarity specialty

Eschew obfuscation

Eschew Obfuscation specialty

Writing clear prose

  • It’s raining specialty

  • At the present time we are experiencing precipitation.

Identify me as Ishmael. specialty

Several twelvemonths past– disregard the exact period– being somewhat impoverished financially and possessing nothing remarkable to intrigue me on terra firma, I reflected I would navigate about somewhat and observe the liquid, aqueous component of the globe.

Call me Ishmael. specialty

Some years ago– never mind how long precisely– having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Clarity counts
Clarity counts. specialty

Make your reader work as little as possible.

Keep the degree of difficulty as low as possible.

Robert Gunning’s Fog Index:

measuring the degree of difficulty of writing based on the length of the words we choose.

English: specialty

the world’s richest, most expressive language.

Heteroglot: constant absorption

American Indian: chipmunk, moose

Italian: balcony, umbrella

Persian: shawl, paradise, sherbet

Greek: acrobat, catastrophe, elastic

Spanish: alligator, vanilla, hammock

Anglo saxon roots
Anglo Saxon roots specialty

  • Words of usually no more than 4 letters









Norman invasion 1066
Norman Invasion 1066 specialty

Language exploded– and separated into 2 classes:

Home / Residence

Eat / Dine

Loving / Amorous

Anglo saxon latinate words
Anglo Saxon & Latinate words specialty

Think (verb)

cogitate, ruminate, reflect, meditate,

conceive, contemplate….

Need (noun)

privation, destitution, indigence,

penury, pauperism….

Willing (adjective)

amenable, compliant, submissive, tractable

Short simple words
Short, simple words specialty

Not: But:

Contemplate Think

Endeavor Try

Equitable Fair, Equal

Facilitate Help

Magnitude Size

Require Need

Terminate End

Utilize Use

Avoid pompous diction
Avoid Pompous Diction specialty

Endeavor – Try

Initiate – Begin

Is desirous of – Wants

Cognizant of – Knows

Ascertain – Find out

Implement – Start, create, carry out, begin

Apprise– Inform

Eventuate – Happen

Transpire – Happen

Transmit – Send

Remove empty fillers
Remove empty fillers specialty

It would thus appear that….


It is considered that….

We think….

It is this that….


It is possible that the cause is…. specialty

The cause may be….

In light of the fact that….


It is often the case that….


It is interesting to note that…. specialty


It is not impossible that….


It seems that there can be little doubt that…


Economy and precision
Economy and Precision specialty

In the course of

While, during

In the event that specialty


In the majority of instances specialty


In the near future specialty


In the nature of specialty

Like (similar to)

In the neighborhood of specialty


In the vicinity of specialty


In view of the fact that specialty


It is imperative that specialty

Be sure that

It is interesting to note that specialty

Note that

It would thus appear that specialty


Make decisions about specialty

Decide on

Needless to say specialty

(Then why say it?)

On a few occasions specialty


On the assumption that specialty

Assuming that

Prior to specialty


Subsequent to specialty

After, Following

Take action specialty


Take into consideration specialty


With regard to specialty


With the exception of specialty


Please find enclosed, herewith, my new paper, which was published in January of this year.

Here is my January 2003 paper.

Clarity = Economy + Precision published in January of this year.