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Posted by Miriam Milstein from IP on August 11, 2010 at 14:41:31:

DONíT MAKE THESE MISTAKES: Top Five Errors That Residency Applicants Make in Personal Statements

Many applicants write their personal statement as if it were a mini-biography. These statements simply restate the applicantís experience, places of employment, and the duties and responsibilities the applicant has had. Writing such a statement does nothing to increase the applicantís desirability. The program director already has a copy of your CV; he has a copy of your medical school transcript. Use your personal statement to give the program director new information that canít be conveyed with these other documents! Discuss soft skills such as your interpersonal skills, your analytical thinking, and your commitment to medicine.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but you shouldnít necessarily focus on the reasons you shoes to go to medical school. Program directors know that you want to be a physician; theyíre assuming that anybody who stuck it out through all of the grueling years of medical school wants to be a doctor! In your personal statement, you should discuss the reasons you have chosen your specific specialty and why you think youíll be good at it. Program directors want to hear about your passion and commitment for the field you have chosen.

The PS is not the place to apologize for multiple attempts at the USMLEs, poor grades, or lacking experience. You have approximately 800 words to sell yourself: use them to showcase your strengths and talents, not to highlight your faults! You can explain the reason for any inconsistencies in your background during an interview: the PS should be solely devoted to your attributes. If you really feel that you must address a specific weakness, focus on how you overcame that drawback and became a better doctor.

You want to convince program directors that you are a suitable candidate for their program but letís face it, anybody can write, I am a hard worker who is empathetic and who naturally reaches out to others. How will the program director know if what youíre writing is true? Back up your statements with concrete examples and stories. Donít say, I am a hard worker, say, Thanks to the many hours I spent in our schoolís library, I ranked first in our class or 400 graduates. Donít say, I like giving to my patients; instead, tell a story about a patient whose life you touched.

5. BEING TOO TECHNICAL Again, donít rewrite your CAF. The personal statement is not the place for long lists of medical skills and the details of all of your medical research. You want the program director to really read your statement, not skim it, so make it interesting! Your statement should be an enjoyable read; include stories and vivid imagery that will capture the readerís attention.

Does writing an effective statement sound like a tall order? Donít do it alone! Visit our website to learn more about our editing and coaching services.

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