Applying to Residency-- Information Item #3

4th Year Advising Tip - May 12, 2014
May 12, 2014

Personal Statments (sic)-- this was accidental, but i left it in here to make a point-- see below :)

Dear class,  here is the next in our series of informational updates about the residency application process--- a statement on personal statements!

The importance of the personal statement varies enormously across specialties and even between programs within any particular specialty.  having said that, it is still important to craft a short, thoughtful, well-written summary of your interest in the specialty field(s) to which you are applying.  

READ THIS IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE: do not agonize over the personal statement to the detriment of the timeliness of your application.  all of you should be aiming to apply to programs beginning at 12:01 AM on 9/15/2014 (that's when ERAS will first release applications) and no later than 10/1/2014 (except for early matches which have different opening dates). every year, some student is late in applying to programs and 9 times out of 10 they say it is because they have not finished their personal statement.  write the darn thing and get it over with!!!!!!!!

Key points:

  • keep it short-- one page single-spaced MAXIMUM-- no one wants to read more than that.
  • primary focus should be on WHY you think this specialty is right for you and vice versa
  • don't try to be funny, cute, weirdly innovative, or unusual here unless you are REALLY good at it.  even then, such approaches are very risky. clever haiku and spicy limericks rarely impress residency directors.
  • do NOT regurgitate your CV in greater detail.  only include things that are covered in your CV to the extent that expansion on them clearly adds to your understanding of and interest in the field. 
  • generally, you do NOT need to write a separate personal statement for preliminary or transitional PGY 1 programs.  They know that you are pursuing advanced positions and that you haven't always dreamed of being the 'best preliminary intern in the world'. However, if you just can't stand it, you can write a short separate statement for preliminary programs. 

Have your specialty advisors review the statement.  as your advisory deans we generally do NOT want to review your personal  statements. First, we don't have time to edit dozens and dozens of these.  More importantly, unless you are applying in our particular specialty (emed, medicine, psychiatry) we really DO NOT know what programs are looking for--- that's why you have specialty advisors. also, have your english major friends/family review for grammar, spelling (see above!!!!), and punctuation (also capitalization, ha, ha). 

Watch for upcoming information about letters of recommendation, the MSPE (aka dean's letter), ERAS, NRMP/early matches, low fat recipes (just kidding, wanted to see if you were reading this or not!!!)

Best regards from your advisory deans,

Drs. haywood, norris, and schroth

W. Scott Schroth, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Administration
phone: 202-994-2202 (dean's office only)
phone: 202-741-2222 (clinical office only)
fax: 202-994-0926