The Residency Personal Statement Discussion



I wish to start a discussion to cover all aspects of the residency personal statement. I understand that it must be one page long even though ERAS allows you to post over 5 pages. What makes the ultimate personal statement?


@DeSantos Your story and your story should be impressive to capture their attention. I believe that the personal statement should be thought of as an art to capture the eyes, unfortunately many of us (IMGs) fail to do that. Hopefully this thread will bring out some attention to the different components.


The first rule of writing a good personal statement is that it should always be interesting enough to capture the reader’s attention from the start. The way to do that is to focus on a background story that is related to your chosen specialty.

Many Residency Applicants find it helpful to brainstorm specific events in their lives that led to their choosing of a specific specialty; therefore, collect your stories from the past and try answering specific questions about the event that has led you in this direction. Most residency applicants struggle because they cannot explain why they’re choosing a specialty and so they get stuck.

Always ask yourself these questions before you begin writing so that you do not lose focus:

  • What is the earliest memory that has sparked an interest in a specific specialty?
  • What will it mean to me to get accepted into the program?
  • What can I offer to the program that will help differentiate me from other applicants?
  • What about my earliest memory has confirmed my passion for my chosen specialty?

Your memory doesn’t have to be from childhood. If you can recall a memory/patient from your clinical rotation that has changed you and has confirmed your passion for a specialty, then you’re half way there.

Side note: When writing a personal statement, be sure to write it in a narrative form by including details about the event that led to your chosen specialty. You can think of your personal statement, to some extent, as a story with characters. Each character having physical descriptions that will help your reader visualize the events as moving images. Thus, remembering where and how it started can help you write a human story that is intriguing enough to convince the reader that you’re the best fit for the program.

Another important component of a great personal statement is focus and organization. When you’re writing your personal statement, you need to remember that Residency Directors read hundreds of personal statements; thus, you should stay focused on your subject, move at a fast pace without losing your reader, and tie the entire personal statement together.

You can find additional information about Residency Personal Statements and general helpful information on how to brainstorm your way through an exceptional personal statement at

I hope this helps!


Thank you for providing us with such useful information. What exactly should we write when thinking about the specialty? What aspects of the specialty?


Well, you first want to think of what draws you to a specialty. It could be anything from personal experiences like knowing someone who was affected by a particular disease and how their daily lives were affected, and how your skills can help not just treat the patient but help heal their well-being. You need to remember that Residency Directors want to know the human part of the profession and that you do not lack empathy. Tell them about that person. Who was he? What was he like? What illness did he have? How did he struggle in his daily life? How did you feel about this person or his illness? These types of questions will help you tell a human story of the patient and how you will bring your skills to the table to treat the patient.

You also need to show the programs that you’re not robot-like by relieving enough information about your hobbies, interests, and aspirations as an individual and how you will incorporate those to the specialty.


In which part of the personal statement do you focus most on the specialty? Do you start right away from the introduction?



  1. One page and no more than a page - What if I go a bit more than a page is that an issue?
  2. Focus on the specialty - Can we show interest in more than one specialty especially if there are within similar interests like Family med and Internal med?
  3. Should I include my multiple attempts in the USMLE? and if I do how do I address it?



There is no set rule to answering this question. Usually, however, we noticed that people who start their personal statements with a background story relating to the specialty, for example, are usually those that succeed at making it more interesting. That is because narratives are more memorable and more engaging for Residency Directors to read in the midst of all the hundreds of personal statements they will be reading.


We recommend that personal statements are to be kept one-page in length (600-800 words). Do not go over that limit since Residency Programs will be reviewing hundreds of applications. They do not have the time or energy to read pages of the personal statement. 1. Keep it short. 2. Get to the point. 3. Use that one page wisely.

When you’re applying to a particular program, make sure that you are only expressing interest in one specialty. Your interest in another field will diminish your intent to excel in the field of your choosing. You will want to prove that you will be the best candidate for the program because you’re truly passionate about it. Narrow your focus and express your interest in a program by allowing them to see what you will gain from it to get to your professional goals.

Regarding your last question, as noted on Match a Resident’s blog page The Truth About USMLE Exam Attempts," A common belief among residency candidates is that having multiple attempts on your USMLE Transcript will end your US medical residency dreams, and make it impossible for you to get interviews from residency programs. The truth is a big part of overcoming multiple USMLE Attempts is having a strong ERAS Application. Your Personal Statement should be well-crafted and specialty specific. You should have recent, specialty specific Letters of Recommendation from US clinical experience. Finally, your MyERAS Application (or CV) should be complete and error-free. "

While this doesn’t say in detail if you should mention it, we recommend that if you do decide to mention those failed attempts, you do so by being positive and by demonstrating that you have excelled beyond those scores. In a way, for example, you can say that because of your failures, you learned to be a better doctor.

To answer your question in detail, I’ve included the entire article below.

Good luck!


I am so happy to have joined this forum. Thank you very much for such enormous contribution. :heart:


Thank you for all your help on this thread.


any advise of good companies that edit personal statements…

#16 @loda2008. The rep for that service is the member who provided the information above ^^^ @Naj