3. Not Focusing On the Target Institution _ Many medical institutions ask residency applicants to elaborate on why they have chosen to pursue a specialty residency at that particular facility. I have found that many applicants do not pay enough attention to answering this question when it is asked. This is not a difficult thing to do these days since every medical facility/program has a website with web pages where they make a point of explaining in detail, how they are unique and different from all of their peer organizations. All an applicant has to do is spend a few minutes studying the target website to find out what that institution is saying about itself in terms of: vision, mission, philosophy, priorities, demographics, special capabilities, etc., etc. Armed with this information, it is not difficult to work some of those themes and facts into one's personal statement. This will show application reviewers that you are truly interested in their program and not just going through the motions while submitting multiple applications. Not focusing sufficiently on your target institution is another major oversight that can hurt your medical residency personal statement.
2. Make excuses _ Lots of applicants have weaknesses in their application files, especially in their transcripts. Maybe you got low grades your freshman year. Maybe you had to leave school and work for a while. Maybe you got an F in that statistics class and had to retake it. Or maybe you got a degree in one field and are applying to grad school in a different field; or you didn't pass your medical residency exams the first time. Whatever your weakness is, do not offer excuses and do not bad_mouth anyone. So it wasn't your fault that the professor lost your final exam and flunked you, or jobs dried up in your original field of study, or you had the flu when you took the GRE. Don't say anything that sounds like an excuse or sounds like you are blaming someone else for you failing to achieve a goal. Even when it is true, it may make you seem whiny and unable to accept responsibility for your actions. Instead, address the weakness at the end of your statement, and explain how you have overcome it, learned from it, and are a better candidate now because of it.