Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association







From the American Medical Association Website

(Posted 06/04)

Why is the personal statement so important? It is important because it is the only part of your application that is not based on test scores or other people’s perceptions of you. For this reason committees place a heavy emphasis on the personal statement.  It is the one part of your application that you have complete control of and allows you to make a personal case for yourself.  Because of these reasons, however, it is so very difficult to write.

There are some basic questions that you need to address in your personal statement. These are usually divided into three paragraphs that address: 1) what got you interested in the field that you have chosen; 2) what are you looking for in a residency program; and 3) what are your expected goals in the field you have chosen. You are always free to add other commentary that is relevant to the above topics. But, make sure you discuss these 3 topics in your essay.

Your personal statement should fit onto one page when it is printed from the ERAS system. You can test this prior to submitting your statement to residency programs.

Some helpful suggestions in getting started:

  1. Go back to your medical school application essay. Some students find it useful to look at that as a basis for their residency statement. Specifically the introductory and final paragraphs. 

  2. Find out if your school has a writing office, which can help you with your statement.

  3. Use a theme to structure your essay. This helps unite all aspects of your statement. 

  4. Provide concrete examples that pertain to your life, goals and experiences.

  5. Be concise. Refrain from using a lot of unnecessary words.

  6. Begin your essay with an attention grabber: a quote, a story, an anecdote, or a riddle.

  7. Finish your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the beginning of your statement and restates the theme.

  8. Have your departmental program director evaluate/critique your statement. Remember they have probably seen thousands of essays and is most likely the best authority at your institution to evaluate your work.

  9. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch if your essay is not working.

  10. Do write about what interests you, excites you. Your reader wants to hear a positive essay not a negative one about the profession.

Mistakes to avoid in a personal statement: 

  1. Underestimating the importance of the personal statement.

  2. Underestimating the time and difficulty involved in developing the personal statement.

  3. Lack of “flow”. You read the essay and have no idea what the applicant is trying to say. They jump from one tangent to another. When reading a statement like this I would rather not read the essay at all. To prevent this error you need not one, not two, but at least three people to read your essay and give you feedback. You need to revise your essay several times. Therefore, you cannot start working on the essay one week before it is due. I recommend starting to work on your personal statement in July. Remember that most attendings will ask for a copy of your personal statement in order to write a letter of recommendation. You therefore need to start early.

  4. Spelling and Grammar mistakes. These can kill you. It says a lot about an applicant if they have not taken the time to carefully proof read their essay. Is this someone who pays attention to detail and will spend time taking care of patients in my hospital?  No!

  5. Avoid clichés.

  6. Making the writing process a group effort. This does not work.

  7. Being too cute. This is not an essay for college admissions where originality/strangeness is applauded.  Keep it simple to the point and address the issues I have brought up before.

  8. Procrastinating until the very end to begin your statement. You need to start months in advance.

  9. Failing to let yourself come through. This goes back to trying to make your statement too cute.  You do not want to show up to an interview and have the interviewer thinking: Am I speaking to the same person that wrote this statement?

  10. Including topics in the statement that if asked to discuss you would not be able to answer, such as particular research points, volunteer activities, etc…




Website created and maintained by Navneet Majhail ('91 Batch)