I read over 30 personal statements today, those who were earmarked the epitome of excellence when written for residencies at prestigious medical programs. I printed the pages and read every single one line by line, highlighting and color-coding the commonalities and high points.
As my husband enters his fourth year of medical school, it will be time to apply to residency programs and match with one that is worthy of him. Of course with any application there is paperwork: scores, personal statements, transcripts, and evaluations. So what does a person write to stand out from the thousands of residency hopefuls? I gave this some thought as I read through the examples, there was a definite formula which emerged:
Med students wrote about their personal story or history, this was usually the first paragraph. Secondly, many provided experiences which had shaped their learning and desire to select [insert specialty here]. Another key element was the distinct and multiple mentions of patients, students wrote about their dedication to providing excellent care, whether in the field or through research. Lastly, and most importantly, all included their passion for the profession or specialty.
Having written my personal statement not too long ago for graduate school, I knew the challenge which my husband would face. He would have to create something special with words to make himself stand out and shine from the page. Putting your passion into words can be a scary task. Sometimes you bare your soul and it takes all you have.
With my own personal statement, the easy choice was my quest for education. It had been a long and arduous journey of thirteen years. Many barriers can face a student – time, money, mentality – and this provides useful subject matter for such statements. I wasn’t shy with including the details!
I continue to research, one resident at the Mayo Clinic had a blog that looked like a great resource. I scanned her contact page and noticed she was charging $30 per 15 minute conversation on advice for med students. Wow, capitalism!
Being a writer myself, my desire is to use this research to give my husband some sage advice on what to write. Yet, there is no secret sauce. You write from the heart, lay your passion down, let the reader know why you are you and how you will be the very definition of amazing.
Did YOU ever have to write a personal statement? What did you do to stand out?