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Medical Residency Application: The Personal Statement. Writing Well to Sell Yourself. Elizabeth Lefebvre , McGill University UGME Career Planning Office May 19, 2010. What Is a Personal Statement?. Narrative picture of you “What I’ve done” = residency application + CV

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medical residency application the personal statement

Medical Residency Application:The Personal Statement

Writing Well to Sell Yourself

Elizabeth Lefebvre,

McGill University

UGME Career Planning Office

May 19, 2010

what is a personal statement
What Is a Personal Statement?
  • Narrative picture of you
    • “What I’ve done” = residency application + CV
    • “Who I am” = personal statement
  • Essential element of your application package
    • A good one won’t guarantee you a match
    • A bad one CAN ruin your chances
structure overview
Structure: Overview
  • MUST have a logical flow
  • Verify with individual program descriptions or websites any unique required topics and maximum word count
  • Create generic template, then tailor as necessary
structure starting point
Structure: Starting Point


Why this Specialty

Why You for this Specialty

General Career Goals

Why this Institution


structure introduction
Structure: Introduction
  • DO
    • Be concise, interesting, and personal
    • Employ a brief “story” or vignette from your life
    • Vast generalities about medicine/the specialty
    • Giving an exhaustive history of your life
structure why this specialty
Structure: Why This Specialty
  • DO
    • Provide honest information about your path
    • Be specific and use brief, concrete examples
    • Generalizing without providing evidence from your personal experience
structure why you
Structure: Why You
  • DO
    • Identify your personal strengths
    • Relate your strengths to your chosen specialty
    • Provide concrete examples of how your strengths “look” in real life
    • Draw upon items in your CV, contextualizing their relevance for this program/specialty
structure why you8
Structure: Why You
    • Citing traits applicable to all medical students without illustrating from your life/making it personal
    • Simply listing the items on your CV
structure career goals
Structure: Career Goals
  • DO
    • Describe:
      • Your ideal practice setting
      • How research will fit with your career (if at all)
      • Indicate subspecialty interests (generally)
      • What you hope to accomplish
    • Committing yourself to one subspecialty or practice location, etc.
structure why this school
Structure: Why This School
  • DO
    • Identify several unique points of the program
    • Explain why these are positive to you
    • Identify geographical factors (family, recreational/cultural opportunities, etc.)
    • Speaking only to geographic location
    • Citing common program characteristics
structure conclusion
Structure: Conclusion
  • DO
    • Refer back to your intro if possible
    • Be concise, interesting, and personal
    • Express enthusiasm about specialty/program
    • Bland, generic statements that “end” the statement but add little to overall impact
length check on carms
Length? Check on CaRMS
  • - “Main Residency Match (R-1)” – “Program Information” – “Program Descriptions”
  • Always watch for max. word length for each program
how many versions
How many versions?
  • Generally, a basic version with some modifications for each program can be ok, BUT…
  • Check on CaRMS! Each program may give very specific guidelines about what they want from you.
resources general
Resources: General
  • McGill Career Planning Website

  • Resumes & Personal Statements for Health Professionalsby James Tysinger
  • AMA Website

resources personal
Resources: Personal
  • We are happy to review and assist with editing drafts of your personal statement(s)
    • Send Word documents by e-mail to
    • Expect one-week turnaround time at peak periods (October/November)