Over the past decade I have written and/or edited scores of medical residency personal statements for MDs applying for medical specialty residency positions at dozens of teaching hospitals. Although it was never my intention to become an expert on writing these documents, that qualification just sort of evolved naturally over the years. Not long after I set up my two main "writing help" websites and started to create my series of writing_help how_to books, MD's from all around the world started inquiring as to whether I could help them write or edit their medical residency personal statements. As a professional business writer who had already published a book on how to write college admission essays, I found the transition to medical residency personal statements to be pretty straightforward. That's because, in the final analysis, it really IS all about how best to communicate a specific message in writing, regardless of the particular application. It wasn't long after I started receiving these draft residency personal statements and personal letters from MDs, until I noticed that there were three areas in particular where a lot of the applicants were missing the mark when drafting their statements. Consequently, the following are what I have come refer to as:
6. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. Have another person (several persons) critique your work. Use fellow students, trusted professors, your parents or significant other _ anyone who will read your statement closely and give you constructive advice. You, yourself, should read your statement out loud; the ear will hear errors (sentence fragments, grammatical missteps) the eye misses. Be aware of unconscious mistakes, like starting every sentence with the work "I", using cliches (example: saying you want to be a doctor to "help people"), or over_stating or exaggerating accomplishments or emotions. Once satisfied, put the statement down, do not over_write it and drain it of all intensity and enthusiasm. Lastly, think on this. Your personal statement is your opportunity to tell your "story" and a window into your humanity _ ultimately, that is what makes it engaging and memorable to the schools you are applying to.