Personal Statements > TIPS TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE |
TIPS TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE PERSONAL STATEMENT
Points to Consider- Content
• Keep it simple - Use colloquialisms
• Include only pertinent information - Use abbreviations
• Check agreement between CV and personal statement
• Include your date of birth or marital status
• Get objective feedback - Include your gender, race or ethnicity
• Check spelling and grammar for errors - Provide your Social Security Number
• Present information in a positive way
Points to Consider- Format
• Use 1-inch margins all around - Mix type styles
• Use quality paper - USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
• The paper’s watermark should run in the same direction as the text of the document
• Double space following a period
• Use the same type face Vary the weight of the type (Use bold, normal, italic)
• Use type in small point size
• Use quality reproduction (e.g., laser printer, high quality photocopier)
• Use san serif fonts (e.g., Arial or Helvetica)
Preparing Your Personal Statement:
1. Read the personal statements of fellow students to see how they have written them.
2. Think about the content of your personal statements. Remember, you are selling yourself.
3. Spend some time brainstorming.
4. Identify important information. What describes you best?
5. Organize the above information.
6. Note point to develop within a paragraph. Describe how specific experiences (e.g., being president of an organization) helped you to develop certain traits/skills (e.g., leadership skills).
7. Set the material aside for a while.
8. Review/revise the content to make sure it’s what you want.
9. Write the first draft of your personal statement.
10. Review/revise the rough draft. Check spelling and grammar.
11. Make sure the CV and personal statement agree in font size and style.
12. Get objective feedback from at least one other person.
13. Revise your personal statement again. Check spelling, grammar, dates etc again.
14. Print the final copies on resume-quality paper using a high quality printer.
Personal Statement Format
Paragraph 1: Introduction
State directly why you want this residency position. Elaborate on these points in the rest of the document.
Paragraph 2: Your Undergraduate Years
Relate your undergraduate years to points made in the introductory paragraph. If applicable, include information about your major, and courses you liked and why you liked them.
Extracurricular activities and medically-related volunteer work should reflect developing traits and skills.
Paragraph 3: Your Medical School Years
Describe your medical school years’ experience and relate all that is applicable to the specialty you are pursuing.
Paragraph 4: Your Specialty Choice and Why You Selected It
“I have chosen this specialty because…” Focus on matters like continuity of care, dealing with the whole patient, role models, liking patients of a particular age range, challenges, variety of illnesses to treat, etc.
Paragraph 5: The “I Seek” Paragraph
Describe what you are seeking in a program. Consider important experiences such as strong academics diverse patient populations, outreach efforts to the community, research and teaching opportunities. This paragraph is important- Put some thought into it! Contact UA graduates in the residency program to which you are applying and get information/suggestions from them as to what is most important to focus on.
How to write a personal statement: Some tips
1) Titles and subtitles help to tell your story. They also break up the page.
2) Grammar and spelling COUNT! This statement is YOU! Make sure it is clean, and free from errors. A carefully proofed personal statement is taken as a sign that the author is compulsive and thoughtful -just what the training program is looking for.
3) Don't be afraid to be YOU! No one will remember that your grade school teachers elected you most likely to become a doctor. They will remember the candidate that had to deliver a baby horse on a farm as a teenager. They will most definitely remember the candidate that ran for public office and lost or the one who was promoted in the field from medic to platoon leader. Too many good candidates persist in thinking that the statement is only for academic achievements and medically relevant stuff.
4) Use whatever stories help define you, your skills, your character. Find a way to work your career as a medical interpreter into your story or even a background in sales or your athletic skills.
5) Use the personal statement to highlight your accomplishments. You may want to dedicate some space in your personal statement for these accomplishments with its own title and a skipped line to make it stand out.
6) Whatever you do, don't just print out your curriculum vitae in the personal statement space. This is translated as "I had nothing to say so I thought I'd just plop this down here."
7) BEWARE of the TOO SHORT PERSONAL STATEMENT. Having a pleasant amount a white space on the personal statement page is one thing. It makes the whole thing more readable. A 10 or 15 line personal statement is the quickest way to turn off a program. It says that your patient write-ups will also lack imagination and style.
8) PERSONALIZE your personal statement. Don't settle for telling your audience that there was a diverse population of patients where you trained. Tell them (briefly) some of the stories of the people you have treated. Doctors LOVE to read each other's war stories. You may even find that the stories form the basis for some of your interviews.
9) Don't make the classic writing mistake of beginning every sentence with "I". In fact, you must work hard to make the piece a good bit of writing. Every paragraph should have a topic sentence followed by two to three sentences that support the topic and then a concluding sentence. Every paragraph should build on the one before it. The first paragraph traditionally ought to tell the reader what you hope to prove and then the last paragraph should tie up to the first and show how you succeeded in telling them.
10) Have someone good read your personal statement and give you feedback.
11) The personal statement should fit on one side of one page. No one who reads hundreds of personal statements wants them to be long and drawn out.
12) There should be some white space on the page. A big box of words can be visually discouraging. If you want it to be read, make is appealing.
13) Never fawn. Never tell the program director that you are desperate or that he/she will be blessed if they accept you. This kind of behavior undermines your ability to be perceived as a quality doctor on your own terms. In fact, think as positively as possible. Believe it in your heart and make it clear that you consider yourself doing the program a favor by coming for an interview.
14) Avoid the same old clichés. No program director wants to read 300 statements that begin, "I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I was treated by my family doctor."
15) Don't be afraid to be creative. Programs are looking for creative people. Creative people make good problem solvers. They are thought of as more able to handle emergencies. Use poetry (in limited quantities), religious stories, and flashbacks to your childhood. Use different narrative lines for effect like switching back and forth between the patient's point of view and yours.
16) Back up every descriptive thing you say. It's one thing to say, "I'm a team player." It is another thing entirely to say what makes you a team player. Describe the team you were on.
The Personal Statement is your opportunity to take what is uniquely you out of the “cut and dried” format of the CV and application form. This is the time to give a program director a sneak preview of you, the applicant. Often though, it seems that most students tend to find this point of the application process quite difficult
TIPS TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE PERSONAL STATEMENT