Your personal statement is an integral part of a successful application. Unless a program’s faculty or residents know you personally through a rotation, your application — including personal statement — presents your entire professional persona to those who extend interview invitations. Competitive programs have hundreds of qualified applicants, so your personal statement must help you stand out.
Programs differ in how they use personal statements, so even an excellent essay doesn’t guarantee an interview. Number-oriented programs may “screen out” applicants whose numbers (e.g., USMLE scores) fall below their standards. Fortunately, a well-written personal statement can connect you with those who review applications more holistically.
Your personal statement should achieve these broad goals:
In short, your essay can help you secure interviews and establish rapport with those who influence where you’re placed on a program’s rank order list (ROL).
Additionally, program directors and faculty who screen applications want personal statements to:
Definitely do not
When writing your essay, work with a specialty-specific mentor to identify what your essay must and must not include. Then prepare and revise several drafts before asking your mentor for their feedback. If you disagree with the mentor’s assessment, ask a second specialty-specific mentor to review it. If their suggestions match, revise it. If their suggestions differ, use your best judgment. Last, ask someone who knows you well to also review your essay to assess whether it reflects you as a person.
A well-written personal statement is very important, but it won’t guarantee an interview invitation or a high standing on a program’s ROL. Make it concise, logical, and sincere. After all, your personal statement provides programs an overview of you as a person and developing physician.
For more information regarding personal statements, email for help.