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.
Tension is one of the second most important elements in writing, closely allied to suspense _ the "what happens next" ingredient. The problem for many students is to try to condense the personal statement into 600 words. Obviously, the admission officer knows you only have this limited space, but nonetheless does judge you on the four minutes it takes to read your personal statement, if your personal statement includes tension and suspense _ it is sure to be a winner. The secret to a good personal statement is not to give away too much to quickly, keep us guessing, hanging onto every word, thus building up tension and suspense. In order for there to be tension in your personal statement, there must be (or have been) something important at stake. Perhaps this was your family life or what you believe is your future. Perhaps the reason why you chose the course you wish to study. Whatever it is, by not divulging the outcome too soon, you will maintain the reader's interest for that much longer. The following personal statement starts with a powerful suspense filling introduction: