Writing a Personal Statement for Residency Application

Personal statements are an essential, required part of applying to residency. Residency programs screen thousands of applications every cycle and read many hundreds of these statements in the process. You should aim to write an interesting statement that showcases your personality as well as your achievements. Perhaps most importantly, you will need to skillfully articulate the reasons for your interest in family medicine and the particular program you're applying to.

How to Write a Great Personal Statement

A great personal statement sets itself apart from a good personal statement in several ways.

  • First, it includes a level of specificity that shows your motivations and interests are authentic. For example, when conveying why you want to match into family medicine, show awareness of the exciting developments in the specialty, or describe your experience with or knowledge of topics like population health management, care coordination, and the social determinants of health.
  • Feel free to highlight items in your CV if they help remind your reader of the experiences you’ve had that prepared you for the position. This is your opportunity to expand upon activities that are just listed in the CV but deserve to be described so your reader can appreciate the breadth and depth of your involvement in them. It should not be another comprehensive list of your activities, but rather should refer to activities that are listed in detail on the CV.
  • The personal statement is also an appropriate place to address anything that may be ambiguous on your CV. In particular, you should address any nontraditional path you’ve taken through medical school, such as time off or an altered curricular journey. It is better to address these than to leave a program wondering. If you write about academic or personal challenges that you faced during medical school, make a positive impression by focusing on what you've learned from those experiences and how they brought you to where you are now. 

You may choose to relate significant personal experiences, but do so only if they are relevant to your candidacy for the position.

Sharpen Your Writing Skills 

The importance of good writing in a personal statement cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, not only are good writing skills allowed to deteriorate during medical school, but in some sense, they also are deliberately undermined in the interest of learning to write concise histories and physicals. For the moment, forget everything you know about writing histories and physicals. While preparing your personal statement:

  • Avoid abbreviations.
  • Avoid repetitive sentence structure.
  • Avoid using jargon. If there is a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, use it.
  • Don't assume your reader knows the acronyms you use. As a courtesy, spell everything out.
  • Use a dictionary and spell check. 
  • Use a thesaurus. Variety in the written language can add interest, but don't get carried away.
  • Write in complete sentences.

If you need a crash course in good writing, read  The Elements of Style ,  Fourth Edition  by Strunk and White. If you have friends or relatives with writing or editing skills, enlist their help. Student organizations at your school may host personal statement clinics, or your school may offer review services. Many student, medical, and specialty societies, local and national, may offer personal statement reviews or workshops.

Even if you're a great writer and feel confident about your application, you should ask trusted advisors, mentors, and friends to critique your personal statement (and your CV! ). They can help you make your statement as flawless as possible by giving you feedback about areas that might have been unclear or things that should be added.

Don't cross the line

Your personal statement should remain an original composition, even as you seek input and advice. Retain your voice as you refine your writing and don't ever plagiarize. Be aware of other ethical lines you shouldn't cross as well, for example, don't use vague references that would allow for the reader to misinterpret the nature of your experience, and don't take full credit for a project if others worked on it with you.

Copyright © 2024 American Academy of Family Physicians. All Rights Reserved.

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The Residency Personal Statement (2023/2024): The Insider’s Guide (with Examples)

Residency Match Personal Statement

A physician and former residency program director explains how to write your residency personal statement to match in to your top-choice residency program in 2024.

Read example residency personal statements and suggested outlines..


The residency personal statement allows residency program directors and associate directors the chance to get a sense of who you are and your commitment to your chosen specialty. 

As a former program director who understands how residency personal statements are reviewed, what “stands out,” and, most importantly, what will earn you interview invitations, the information below will help you write a residency personal statement to match!

It is imperative to make sure you get the most accurate guidance possible with regards to your residency personal statement content and optimal residency personal statement length (up to 5300 characters with spaces).

Want more personalized suggestions? Sign up for a FREE residency personal statement consultation .

Table of Contents

Goals for Writing Your 2024 Residency Personal Statement

Above all else, your residency personal statement offers the opportunity to show your interest in your chosen specialty when applying to residency to illustrate you are a good fit.

The more details you offer about why you are interested in the specialty and how your med school rotations, accomplishments and experiences have reinforced this interest, the stronger your personal statement will be, the more it will appeal to selection committees and the better you will do in the match process .

I encourage applicants to offer as much “evidence” as possible to “show” rather than “tell” what qualities, characteristics and interests they have. “Telling” a reader, for example, that you are compassionate and hard working means nothing. Instead, you must “show” that you embody these qualities based on your experiences in health care and the patients for whom you have cared.

The residency personal statement also offers the opportunity to write about who you are as a person to convey some details about your background, influences, and interests outside of your given specialty.

The Importance of a Balanced Residency Personal Statement

The key when writing your residency personal statement is to ensure that it is well-balanced so it appeals to a large group of people who might read your ERAS residency application.

However, it is important to understand that every program director and faculty member has his or her own idea of what he would like to read in a personal statement. As an applicant, you must go into this process understanding that you cannot please everyone, or a specific program, and your personal statement should therefore have the broadest appeal possible.

For example, some program directors would rather hear about your personal interests and curiosities and get to know who you are rather than have you focus on the specialty in which you are interested.

At MedEdits, we suggest taking a “middle of the road” approach; include some details about who you are but also focus on the specialty itself. In this way, you will make more traditional reviewers who want to hear about your interest in the specialty happy while also satisfying those who would rather learn about you as a person.

Above all, be authentic and true to yourself when writing your statement. This always leads to the best results! Read on to learn more about how to write a winning personal statement.

About MedEdits

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Residency Personal Statement Outline & Structure

Residency applicants often do well when given outlines or templates to follow, so, we will offer that, but, it is important to realize that many applicants deviate from these rigid rules. One very typical outline that serves applicants quite well in the residency admissions process is:

  • Compose a catchy introduction. Your intro can be related to your interest in the specialty to which you are applying, about a hobby or personal experience, or about your background. Regardless of the topic you choose, you want to tell a story and start with something that will interest your reader and engage him.
  • The next two to four paragraphs comprise the body of your personal statement. We encourage applicants to write about any significant experiences they have had related to their desired specialty and/or future goals. This would include information about rotations, electives, and sub internships related to the specialty, volunteer and research experiences and even significant outside interests.
  • Finally, you want to conclude your essay. In your conclusion, write about what you seek in a residency program, what you will bring to a residency program, and, if you have any idea of your future career goals, write about those as well. Your conclusion is also where you can tailor a personal statement to a specific geographic area of interest or type of program (rural, urban, community).

Residency Personal Statement Length & Residency Personal Statement Word Limit

Residency Personal Statement Length: Our recommendation is that your residency personal statement be between 4000 – 5300 characters with spaces or up to 900 words in length. 

The allowed ERAS residency personal statement length is 28,000 characters which equates to about five pages!

We have been hearing from more and more applicants that the personal statement should not exceed one page when typed in to the ERAS application . Because of this overwhelming trend, we are supporting this guidance unless you have extenuating circumstances that require your personal statement be longer.

Our recommendation is that your residency personal statement be a maximum of 5300 characters with spaces.

ERAS Residency Personal Statement Checklist

  • Ensure your personal statement flows well

The best personal statements are easy to read, don’t make the reader think too much, and make your path and interests seem logical. Rarely does a personal statement have a theme. Also try to have each paragraph transition to the next seamlessly. 

2. Your personal statement should be about you!

Your personal statement should be about you and no one else. Focus on your interests, your accomplishments and your path. This is your opportunity to be forthcoming about your achievements – by writing in detail about what you have done.

3. Be sure your personal statement clearly outlines your interest in the specialty.

Since the reader wants to be convinced of your understanding of, experience in, and curiosity about the specialty to which you are applying, be sure you highlight what you have done to explore your interest as well as your insights and observations about the specialty to show your understanding of it.

4. Make it human.

Again, your personal statement should be about you! The reader wants to know who you are, where you are from, what your interests are and who you are outside of medicine. Therefore, try to include those details about your background that are intriguing or important to you.

5. Express your interest in the specialty.

The reader fundamentally wants to know why you are pursuing the specialty. The more details you offer the more convincing you are about your commitment and your understanding of the specialty. Be sure to include details that might seem obvious. For example, in emergency medicine you must like acute care, but try to include more nuanced details about your interest, too. What do you enjoy about the diagnoses and pathologies involved? What do you value about the actual work you will do? What do you enjoy about the patients for whom you will care? How about the setting in which you will practice?

6. The start and evolution of your interest.

Readers want to know how and when you became interested in your specialty. Was this before medical school? During medical school? What have you done to pursue and nurture your interest in the specialty?

7. What you have done to learn more about the specialty.

You should explain what you have done to pursue your interest. What rotations have you done or have planned? What research, scholarly work or community service activities have you pursued to further your interest?

8. Where you see yourself in the future – if you know!

Without going into too much detail, write about the type of setting in which you see yourself in the future. Do you hope to also participate in research, teaching, public health work or community outreach as a part of your career? What are your future goals? Since many programs typically train a certain type of physician, it is important that your goals are aligned with the programs to which you are applying.

9. What do you bring to the specialty?

You should try to identify what you can bring to the program and the specialty to which you are applying as a whole. For example, are you applying to family medicine and have a distinct interest in public health? Are you applying for internal medicine and do you have demonstrated expertise in information technology and hope to improve electronic medical records? Do you have extensive research or teaching experience, and do you hope to continue to pursue these interests in the future? Have you developed a commitment to global health, and do you hope to continue making contributions abroad? Programs have a societal obligation to select residents who will make valuable contributions in the future, so the more ambitions you have the more desirable a candidate you will be.

10. What type of program you hope to join?

Do you hope to be part of a community or university-based program? What are you seeking in a residency program? Programs are looking for residents who will be the right “fit” so offering an idea of what you are seeking in a program will help them determine if your values and goals mesh with those of the program.

11. Who you are outside of the hospital?

Try to bring in some personal elements about who you are. You can do this in a few ways. If you have any outside interests or accomplishments that complement your interest in your specialty, such as extracurricular work, global work, teaching or volunteer efforts, write about them in detail, and, in doing so, show the reader a different dimension of your personality. Or, consider opening your statement by writing about an experience related to your hobbies or outside interests. Write about this in the form of an introductory vignette. I suggest taking this nontraditional approach only if you are a talented writer and can somehow relate your outside interest to the specialty you are pursuing, however. An interest in the arts can lend itself to dermatology, plastic surgery or ophthalmology, for example. Or, an interest in technology could relate to radiology .

12. Any personal challenges?

Also explain any obstacles you have overcome: Were you the first in your family to graduate from college? Were you an immigrant? Did you have limited financial resources and work through college? Many applicants tend to shy away from the very things that make them impressive because they are afraid of appearing to be looking for sympathy. As long as you explain how you have overcome adversity in a positive or creative way, your experience will be viewed as the tremendous accomplishment that it is. The personal statement should explain any unusual or distinctive aspects of your background.

  • Residency Match: How It Works & How To Get Matched

Common ERAS Residency Personal Statement Mistakes

Do not tell your entire life story or write a statement focused on your childhood or undergraduate career. 

Do not write about why you wanted to be a doctor. This is old news. From the reviewers perspective, you already are a doctor!

Do not write a personal statement focused on one hobby or begin with your birth. Some background information might be useful if it offers context to your choices and path, but your residency personal statement should be focused on the present and what you have done to pursue your interest in the specialty to which you are applying.

Do not preach. The reader understands what it means to practice his specialty and does not need you to tell him. Don’t write, for example: Internal medicine requires that a physician be knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. The reader wants to know about you!

Do not put down other specialties. You don’t need to convince anyone of your interest by writing something negative about other specialties. Doing so just makes you look bad. If you switched residencies or interests, you can explain what else you were seeking and what you found in the specialty of your choice that interests you.

Do not embellish. Program directors are pretty good at sniffing out inconsistencies and dishonesty. Always tell the truth and be honest and authentic. 

Do not plagiarize. While this seems obvious to most people, every year people copy personal statements they find online or hire companies that use stock phrases and statement to compose statements for applicants. Don’t do it!

Do not write about sensitive topics. Even if you were in a relationship that ended and resulted in a poor USMLE score , this is not a topic for a personal statement. In general, it is best to avoid discussing relationships, politics, ethical issues and religion.

Do not boast. Any hint of arrogance or self-righteousness may result in getting rejected. There is a fine line between confidence and self promotion. Some people make the mistake of over-selling themselves or writing about all of their fantastic qualities and characteristics. Rarely do readers view such personal statements favorably.

Do not write an overly creative piece. A residency personal statement should be professional. This work is equivalent to a job application. Don’t get too creative; stay focused.

Writing ERAS Residency Personal Statements For Multiple Specialties

An increasing number of applicants are applying to more than one specialty in medicine especially if the first choice specialty is very competitive. If you are applying to more than one specialty, even if there is disciplinary overlap between the two (for example family medicine and pediatrics ), we advise you write a distinct specialty for each. Remember that a physician who practices the specialty you hope to join will most likely be reviewing your statement. He or she will definitely be able to determine if the personal statement illustrates a true understanding of the specialty. If you try to recycle an entire personal statement or parts of a personal statement for two specialties, there is a high likelihood the personal statement will communicate that you aren’t sincerely interested in that specialty or that you don’t really understand what the specialty is about.

Writing About Red Flags in your ERAS Personal Statement

The personal statement is also the place to explain any red flags in your application, such as gaps in time or a leave of absence. When addressing any red flags, explain what happened succinctly. Be honest, don’t make excuses, and don’t dwell on the topic. Whenever possible, write about how you have matured or grown from the adversity or what you may have learned and how this benefits you.

If you have left a program or had a break in your medical education, you will also have the chance to explain this in your ERAS application . You should also write about this topic in your personal statement only if you have more to explain, however. 

If you have failed a Step exam or one course in medical school, this likely isn’t something to address in the personal statement. However, you should be prepared to discuss any failure during an interview. By the same token, it is best not to address one low grade or poor attending evaluation in your statement. 

Have you taken a circuitous path to medicine? If so you might address why you made these choices and what you found so interesting about medicine that was lacking in your former career.

Residency Personal Statement Example

Below are two great examples of residency personal statements that earned the applicants who wrote them numerous interviews and first choice matches. As you will see, these two applicants took very different approaches when writing the personal statement yet wrote equally persuasive and “successful” personal statements.

Residency Personal Statement Example, Analysis, and Outline: The Traditional Approach

The most common approach to the personal statement is what I will call the traditional approach, in which the applicant conveys her interest in the specialty, when that interest began and what she has done to pursue the particular specialty.

Suggested outline:

  • Introduction: Catchy Story
  • Paragraph 2: Background Information and how Interest Started
  • Paragraph 3: Write about what you did to explore your interest
  • Paragraph 4: Second paragraph about your experiences related to your specialty
  • Conclusion: Wrap it up. Write something about your future goals.

Below is an example of the traditional approach:

I looked into her eyes and saw terror. She knew the life of her unborn baby was in jeopardy. As tears streamed down her face, she looked to the attending physician. In desperation, she pleaded, “Please save our baby.” She and her husband had been trying to conceive for more than two years, and they knew this could be their only chance to have a healthy child. She went into labor at home and because of a horrible snowstorm was not able to reach the hospital for several hours. When she arrived in labor and delivery, she was crowning. But, the baby was having late decelerations. Because of the sweat on my attending’s forehead I knew the situation was serious. Yet we all tried to remain calm and to keep the patient and her husband calm as well. 

I entered medical school with an open mind as everyone suggested. Even as a first year medical student, however, I was fascinated with embryology. I entered my third year still unsure of what I would pursue. I knew I wanted a career that would be challenging and interesting. Because of my background in drawing and painting, I always loved working with my hands. Yet I also enjoyed working with people. Thankfully, my obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn) rotation was the first of my third year and I was immediately hooked.

I quickly sought out opportunities for research and became involved in a clinical study investigating the impact of a vegan diet on birth outcomes. I have always had an interest in wellness and nutrition, and this seemed like a perfect fit for me. My research is still in process, but through this experience I have learned how to analyze data, stay objective and critically evaluate the literature. So far, our findings suggest better than normal outcomes for babies born to vegan mothers. This reinforces my goal to educate my patients about the important of diet and nutrition, which I hope to make a part of my future practice. 

Early in my fourth year, I completed an elective rotation at Inner City Medical Center. There I cared for a diverse group of patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I realized how much I enjoy labor and delivery, but I also value the operative aspects of ob/gyn. I appreciate the importance of understanding the female anatomy so I can operate with precision.  I also value the diversity of practice in ob/gyn. Whether caring for a woman about to give birth, helping a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer navigate her treatment options, or caring for a perimenopausal woman who is coping with symptoms of hormone fluctuations, I enjoy caring for patients with knowledge and compassion. The outpatient aspect of ob/gyn brings satisfaction as well. I look forward to building relationships with my patients, helping them to lead the healthiest lives possible. I have also realized how much I want to care for those who lack access to care. The work I have done at Medical School Free Clinic has helped me realize the gaps that exist in access to care and education. As a future practicing ob/gyn, I hope to work in such a setting at least on a part time basis.

On that snowy night, when we realized the baby was having difficulty being born because of shoulder dystocia, a simple maneuver eased the situation. The baby’s first cry brought such joy and relief to everyone in the room and, at that moment, I knew I had to be part of this specialty. I hope to join a program where I will have the clinical exposure that will give me the skills and experience to care for a wide range of patients. I do not yet know if I will subspecialize, and I will seek out mentors and experiences as a resident to make an informed decision. I would be honored to interview at your program and thank you for your consideration.

Why It’s Great

This is a great personal statement because it clearly conveys the applicant’s interest in, and understanding of, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) and what the applicant has done to pursue that interest. Not only does this applicant have a long-standing interest in OB/GYN, but, she conveys that she has experienced the specialty in different settings and understands the diverse nature of the specialty. She also includes information about her hobbies and interests and writes about her exploration of OB/GYN outside of the clinical arena. An added bonus is that the applicant writes well and uses descriptive language making her statement interesting and fun to read.

Residency Personal Statement Example, Analysis, and Outline: The Outside Interests Approach

Many mentors advise applicants to tell the reader something about them that is unrelated to medicine or the specialty they are pursuing. This is a fine idea, but be sure your personal statement also includes some details about your interest in your specialty if you decide to move in this direction.

Suggested Outline:

  • Introduction: Write a Catchy Introduction. Be creative! Think outside the box.
  • Paragraph 2:Elaborate on your introduction offering more details
  • Paragraph 3: Write about your specialty choice and what appeals to you.
  • Paragraph 4: Write more about your explorations in medical school.
  • Concluding paragraph(s): Write about your future goals, the type of program you hope to join and consider looping back to your introduction.

Below is an example of the outside interests approach:

The landscape before me was lush and magical. We had been hiking for hours and had found a great spot to set up camp. As I was unloading my backpack and helping to pitch the tent, I saw a scene I knew I had to capture. I quickly grabbed my carefully packed Leica before the magnificent sunset disappeared. Trying to get the perfect exposure, I somehow managed to capture this image so accurately that it reflected the beauty of what was before us high in the mountains of Utah, so far away from the hustle and bustle of New York City where we attended medical school.

Throughout my life, I have pursued my interests and curiosities with focus and creativity. One of those interests is photography. Even as a small child, I wanted my own camera, and I started snapping interesting scenes and images at the age of 6. As I grew older, this hobby took on more significance. I took a college level course in photography as a high school student, worked as a photographer’s assistant and even considered a career in photography. Paralleling my interest, however, was a desire to travel and experience new places, foods, and cultures.

I have been fortunate to travel all over the world. Rather than stopping in a city or place for a couple of days and seeing the sights, I prefer to immerse myself in my surroundings, eating the food, meeting the people, and staying for as long as I can. My fluency in Spanish and Italian has made it easier to “fit in” naturally. My most recent trip to Costa Rica allowed me to visit sugar cane fields and rain forests. I also volunteered in a clinic that helps the most desperate citizens. Of course, because I never travel without my camera, I also captured the beauty of this country; those pictures can be found on my blog.

Surgery seemed like a natural choice for me. It is a very tactile and visual field that requires patience, attention to detail and creativity—just like photography. The operating room setting is invigorating. I love to be a member of a team, and in surgery team work is an essential part of practice. The ability to deal with anatomical variations also satisfies my creative side; I have always been fond of puzzles, and the field of surgery represents a real-world puzzle to me. I also appreciate the intensity of surgery and believe I have the personality and demeanor for the field. I have always enjoyed solving problems quickly, something the field of surgery requires. My rotations in surgery – in addition to my core surgery rotation I have done trauma and cardiothoracic surgery – have helped me to understand the tremendous opportunities and diversity of the field. I have heard some residents lament that the only reason they went into surgery is to operate. However, I really enjoy seeing patients postoperatively. It is only at that time that a surgeon can really appreciate the impact of his or her work.

Finally, my trip to Honduras with a surgical team from my hospital and medical school made me realize that I can make a great contribution globally in the field of surgery. There we saw patients who had no resources or access to care. The facilities in which we worked were bare-bones. Yet the impact we made was tremendous, given that this was a group of people who otherwise would have no surgical care. In this way, I hope to combine my interests in travel and surgery as a resident, if I have time, and certainly as a practicing physician. My ultimate goal is to use my training to help populations globally and domestically.

To gain the most clinical exposure possible, I hope to train in a busy urban hospital. I believe that such a setting will give me the operative experience I need to be able to navigate many situations in the future. Such a setting will also give me the outpatient experience to understand how to manage patients once the surgery is completed.

I look forward to the day when I can be snapping my camera intraoperatively, documenting what I am doing and seeking to help other surgeons. For some, such pictures may not represent the art of those pictures I take in the wilderness, but for me they reflect the beauty of surgery and the great opportunity to make a lasting impression on another human being’s life.

This is a really intriguing personal statement because the author writes about his outside interests in a compelling way that makes him instinctively likable. He then goes on to explain what he enjoys about surgery and what he has done to pursue that interest. As you can see, this applicant writes less about his specialty (surgery) than the applicant in statement #1 did, but, he still convinces the reader of his understanding of, and commitment to, surgery. In this statement, the reader gains a much broader understanding of who the applicant is as a person and what he likes to do in his free time.

Final Thoughts

Writing your residency personal statement should be about telling your story in your own voice and style. You want to highlight your interest in the specialty for which you are applying while also conveying some ideas about who you are as a person to keep your reader engaged in learning about you as a person.

Residency Personal Statement Consulting Services

MedEdits Medical Admissions offers comprehensive guidance and document review services for residency applicants to every specialty in medicine. With more than twenty years of experience in residency admissions and founded by a former residency admissions officer and physician, MedEdits understands what program directors want to read and can help you decide what aspects of your background to focus on in your residency personal statement to earn the most interviews possible.

Getting into a residency has never been more competitive. Let the experts at MedEdits help you with your ERAS personal statement. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been matched to one of their top-choice programs.

Sample Residency Personal Statement Page 1

Sample Residency Personal Statements

Residency Personal Statement Example Page 2

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personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

How to Write a Standout Internal Medicine Personal Statement

Learn how to write a standout internal medicine personal statement that will allow you to be a standout applicant to adcoms.

Posted January 10, 2024

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

Leland Medical School Week (Mar 12-14)

Tuesday, march 12.

10:00 PM UTC · 60 minutes

If you're applying for an internal medicine residency program, writing a standout personal statement is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of getting accepted. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of crafting a compelling personal statement that showcases your unique qualities as an applicant, highlights your academic and clinical achievements, and demonstrates your commitment to the field of internal medicine.

Why a Strong Personal Statement is Important for Internal Medicine Residency

The personal statement is your chance to introduce yourself to the residency program directors and show them why you're the best fit for their program. It's your opportunity to explain why you chose internal medicine as your field of study and what makes you stand out from other applicants. A well-written personal statement can help you overcome any shortcomings in your application and persuade the program directors to invite you for an interview.

Additionally, a strong personal statement can also demonstrate your passion for internal medicine and your commitment to the field. It can showcase your unique experiences and skills that make you a valuable asset to the residency program. Furthermore, a well-crafted personal statement can help you stand out from the thousands of other applicants and increase your chances of being accepted into your desired program. Therefore, taking the time to write a compelling personal statement is crucial for anyone pursuing a career in internal medicine.

Step 1: Start Early and Plan Strategically

Effective personal statement writing is a process that requires careful planning and ample time. Begin early to allow for brainstorming, drafting, revising, and proofreading. Here's a strategic plan to guide your timeline:

  • Months 6-12 before application: Start brainstorming ideas, reflecting on your experiences, and researching programs.
  • Months 4-6 before application: Develop an outline, write a first draft, and seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or peers.
  • Months 2-4 before application: Revise and refine your draft, paying close attention to clarity, structure, and grammar.
  • Month 1 before application: Finalize and proofread your personal statement, making sure it adheres to word limits and formatting guidelines.

Step 2: Find Your Unique Narrative

Your personal statement should tell a unique and engaging story about your journey into internal medicine. Avoid clichés and generic statements. Consider the following strategies to help you find your unique narrative:

  • Reflect on pivotal moments: Think about experiences, patients, or encounters that influenced your decision to pursue internal medicine. Share these stories to showcase your genuine passion.
  • Highlight your growth: Discuss how you evolved personally and professionally throughout your medical journey, demonstrating your commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Incorporate your values: Explain the values and principles that drive your desire to become an internal medicine specialist. Showcase your dedication to patient care and evidence-based practice.

Step 3: Structure and Content

A well-structured personal statement is easier to read and conveys your message effectively. Consider the following structure and content guidelines:

  • Introduction: Begin with a captivating hook that grabs the reader's attention. Briefly introduce yourself and your interest in internal medicine.
  • Body paragraphs: Organize your experiences and narrative into coherent paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your journey or qualities that make you an excellent candidate.
  • Demonstrated qualities: Showcase qualities like empathy, teamwork, resilience, and adaptability through specific examples from your experiences.
  • Program fit: Explain why you are interested in the specific internal medicine program and how it aligns with your career goals.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your key points, reiterate your passion for internal medicine, and leave a memorable impression.

Step 4: Proofread and Edit

After drafting your personal statement, proofreading and editing are crucial. Errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling can detract from your message. Here's a checklist for effective proofreading:

  • Grammar and syntax: Ensure correct grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation.
  • Clarity and conciseness: Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases to make your writing more concise and focused.
  • Consistency: Check that your writing style, tone, and formatting are consistent throughout the statement.
  • Avoid clichés: Remove clichés and overused phrases to make your statement more original.
  • Seek feedback: Work with a Leland Coach to review your statement for feedback and suggestions. Here are some coaches we highly recommend:

Writing a standout personal statement for internal medicine residency requires careful planning, thoughtful reflection, and a lot of hard work. By following the tips and advice in this article, you can craft a compelling personal statement that showcases your unique qualities as an applicant and increases your chances of getting accepted to your dream residency program.

Here are some other articles you may find helpful:

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BrightLink Prep

Example Personal Statement Residency (Internal Medicine)

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In personal statement samples by field.

Here is an excellent example of a personal statement of a medical student who got accepted to seven top residency programs in internal medicine, including Columbia, Vanderbilt, and Arizona.

You will find that this personal statement includes all of the major ingredients of success that you can find here . 

Sample Personal Statement for Residency in Internal Medicine

Being the youngest of four sisters was a challenge, but it taught me the skills to be a problem solver at a very young age. What drew me to medicine was the desire to confront and solve the puzzle to restore a patient’s health.

I completed my medical education at XYZ Hospital under the supervision of competent professionals. Having been trained in a developing country, situations often arose when patients were treated with limited resources in harsh circumstances and taxing environments. My teachers became my inspiration, working beyond their capacity to meet the challenges of the demanding profession. That is the kind of doctor I desire to be, helping the sick and bringing comfort to them in every conceivable manner. During this time, I saw the range of diseases peculiar to our region but seldom confronted by the developed world, such as malaria, dengue, polio, and tuberculosis. In any medical ward, one would find more than fifty percent of patients with infectious hepatitis, owing mainly to the lack of awareness and access to clean supplies. This gave me ample opportunity to educate and treat patients effectively.

After getting married and relocating to the United States, I committed to acquiring the best graduate medical education. I have worked in an inpatient and outpatient US-based clinical setting, which has adequately acquainted me with the system. Additionally, being the spouse of a medical resident, I saw the transformation of new, amateur residents into successful, confident physicians over three years of vigorous training. This further prompted me to strive for my goal.

Internal medicine has always appealed to me for its diverse nature. During my clinical rotations, I had the opportunity to see various spectrums of diseases. Internal Medicine deals with ailments, from common flu to multiple sclerosis. This diversity of conditions and patient population, from young to elderly, make it a very fulfilling career choice for me during a rotation with house staff medicine. I particularly remember caring for an anxious young patient with Crohn’s disease. She refused treatment and was clinically depressed. We addressed all her concerns through effective counseling and pain relief and successfully treated her. Cases like these make internal medicine very stimulating since it deals with all the aspects of the patient’s health.

Belonging to a military background and having undergone training at an army hospital, I learned to adapt. Since childhood, my surroundings instilled in me the discipline I consider my forte. Every two to three years, we moved. With these moves came new schools, homes, and friends. To survive, I had to learn to acclimatize to new environments. As exciting as it may seem, adjusting to different surroundings was always challenging. I can proudly claim that I have succeeded at it. Since moving back to the United States, I have been a homemaker, mother to my child, and a struggling medical student. These experiences have taught me perseverance, consistency, compassion, and determination, which are essential for achieving my long-cherished goal.

The inevitable constraints have not deterred me. On the contrary, I am even more committed to working hard to further my objective. I aim to work in a friendly environment, actively participate in research and use every opportunity to grow as a physician. I will be honored to match and work in your program. I believe I will be a strong candidate for your residency program, bringing resourcefulness and diversity.

This residency essay doesn’t attempt to lure us with flashy stories or impress us with the “too good to be true” achievements. Instead, it chooses a simple storyline. The essay takes the reader into her childhood and portrays her upbringing in a military family where she was always on the move, adapting to a new environment.

The essay is holistic and completely captures all aspects of a residency’s statement. It has a definite beginning, middle, and end. It describes how she was overwhelmed by the plethora of patients in third-world countries suffering from diseases unimaginable in the west.

This projects her as an applicant who has a lot of exposure to working in a challenging environment where the number of patients per doctor is usually in the hundreds. Such a high number is usually not the case here in the US and hence tells the admissions board that she is highly apt at handling an immense workload in a milieu where resources are minimal.

Moreover, the essay also portrays her as someone with so much diversity. She has worked in both developed and underdeveloped countries, which means that she will bring a lot of uniqueness to the residency program. Residency programs value applicants with diversity in background, and she is one with tons of disparate experiences.

The personal statement also gives a sneak peek into her personality. She is caring and has a soft heart, critical ingredients for success in the medical field. Not only that, but she also listens to her patients attentively and goes the extra mile to ensure they live healthy lives.

She also indicates the relentless effort she has put into working as a homemaker and a medical professional. This sheds light on her ability to multitask.

Even though her residency essay depicts success, she doesn’t end it in triumph. This is important because if you always try to finish your essay successfully, even if there isn’t one, you will sound fake. But, on the other hand, you have the whole essay at your disposal to talk about your achievements.


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Med School Insiders

Residency Sample Personal Statements

These are real personal statements from successful residency applicants (some are from students who have used our services or from  our advisors ). These sample personal statements are for reference purposes only and should absolutely not be used to copy or plagiarize in any capacity. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements. Plagiarism is grounds for disqualification of an applicant.

Disclaimer: While these essays ultimately proved effective and led to successful residency matches, there are multiple components that comprise an effective residency applicant. These essays are not perfect, and the strengths and weaknesses have been listed where relevant.

Sample Personal Statements

Encouraged by the idea of becoming well rounded, I collected many hobbies and passions as I grew up from snowboarding and cooking to playing board games and practicing meditation. Despite the increasing demands on my time, however, I never learned how to get more than 24 hours out of a day. Since I entered medical school, I have been searching for ways to continue pursuing my one my most influential hobbies, playing the violin. While my violin may be gathering more dust than I would like to admit, I discovered that the same motivations that gave me an affinity for my favorite pastime are still fulfilled in the practice of anesthesia.

Learning to play the violin was challenging; for the first few years, everything that came out of my violin sounded as if it had been scratched out on a chalkboard. Through daily practice and enormous amount of patience from my parents whose ears were being tortured, playing violin slowly came to be effortless. My violin teacher went beyond teaching me how to play but also challenged me to envision my future and write down my aspirations. While achieving my milestones gave me a jolt of confidence, I learned that setting goals are part of a broader journey of constant improvement. Developed from years of practicing violin, my discipline to work tirelessly towards my goals provides the framework that will help me to master anesthesiology.

I found violin to be most rewarding when I had the opportunity to share my music with others. Through the simple act of pulling my bow across a string, I was able to convey my emotions to my audience. The desire to directly and physically affect change is a large part of my motivation to pursue anesthesiology where problems are identified and immediately met with a potential solution. Drawn to science because of my desire to understand the world around me, I enjoy creating a hypothesis and executing a plan in order to test it. While I was at [UNIVERSITY], I identified areas in which the school could improve the student experience and then implement projects that could address these areas. As the Academics and Research Committee chair, I planned as a summer math course for incoming freshmen to prepare them proof writing, which was a topic that many were to which they were not previously exposed. I derive satisfaction from the ability to take an idea and carrying it through to completion. As a life long learner, I take pleasure in finding ways to grow and expand my mind. My love of learning started from a young age where my favorite use of my computer was to browse my CD-ROM “the way things worked.” My golf team nicknamed me ‘Encyclopedia’ because of my tendency to share interesting facts with them as we drove to tournaments around [STATE]. To this day, it is difficult for me to have dinner with my friends without bringing up an interesting fact I learned from a podcast.

When playing violin became second nature, practicing became a sort of therapy where the world around me disappeared and my mind became quiet and focused. Throughout my life, I have been drawn to tasks that require intense concentration to transform thoughts into physical action from rehearsing a swing to hit a perfect drive to carefully executing a protocol for an experiment. The direct and focused care that takes place in the OR actually turned out to be tranquil and relaxing for me. Monitoring the patient, forming differentials, testing my hypothesis, and planning ahead, I found my mind completely immersed while I was assisting in cases. Able to use my own hands to care for a patient, I left the OR feel satisfied that my efforts were wholeheartedly directed towards providing the best possible care for my patient.

I first discovered chamber music at violin camp and immediately fell in love with beautiful harmonies and intricate counter melodies. One of the most shocking things about chamber music was how foreign the music sounded when I practiced at home because the individual parts frequently do not capture the beauty of piece. It isn’t until rehearsal as a group that the true form of the song emerges. Chamber music, similar to the operating room, involves a small group of people working together toward a single goal. Everyone from the surgeon to the nurses has his or her own role, which is needs to be executed appropriately in order to provide the best care for the patient. The teamwork required in the OR reminds me of seemingly impossible feats humans are able to accomplish through coordinated efforts. This collaboration is an essential characteristic of the type of environment in which I would like to work. In addition, I hope that the anesthesia residency I attend values the spirit of self-reflection and constant improvement. I am excited to pursue a career in anesthesiology where I will continue to build on my interests and strengths that were honed through years of practicing the violin.

The author did a masterful job of integrating one of his/her main outside passions (violin) into an interesting and engaging narrative as to why the applicant was fit for anesthesia.

Compared to the common “writing your CV” mistake that many applicants make, this personal statement is a breath of fresh air. The theme of violin is not irrelevant, as the author relates seemingly unrelated aspects of its practice or performance to key elements of anesthesia, medicine, or being part of a team in the operating room. 

The author allows his/her personality and voice to come through. Reading this, it is easy to imagine a quirky and intellectual applicant who is genuinely curious and excited to pursue the career of anesthesia, along with some interesting hobbies. It is no surprise, then, that this applicant interviewed at top programs across the nation and multiple residency admissions committee members cited the applicant’s personal statement during the interview.

As I stand on stage in front of 500 audience members, they are all eagerly awaiting my next line. In order to start the scene, I need a suggestion from the audience. “What am I holding?” I raise my empty hand in the air. One brave soul replies “Bacon!” My fellow improvisers and I proceed to perform a scene set around a bacon dinner party. We deliver our lines punctuated by laughter until the scene comes to a close. I recall this scene during my first night in the emergency department (ED). I am struck by how much improvisation has taught me. Emergency Medicine (EM) and improv have very similar motifs. Every scene in improvisation is different, as is every ED patient. Scenes are fast paced and force you to draw from life experiences while working in a team setting, similar to the controlled chaos often encountered during an ED shift. Ultimately, ingenuity, communication and resourcefulness are the main draws I have to EM which are traits that have been instilled into my character by my experience with improvisation.

During my third year of medical school, an elderly woman presented to the ED with acute vision loss. Reassessing the patient was difficult because I had no way of documenting the improvement of her vision. Improvisation had prepared me to use creativity and whatever tools available to find a solution for any given situation. I created a system where she could mark an ‘X’ wherever she could see on a grid drawn on paper. Each hour she would add more X’s to the grid as she received corticosteroid treatment. Helping patients with improvised solutions gives me the feeling of being an artist which can complement the logic and criteria needed in EM.

New and imaginative ideas in improvisation are born from constant communication between improvisers. Emergency physicians are constantly communicated information which changes their management of a patient. A growing discipline in EM is the idea of shared decision-making (SDM). My research aims to improve the communication between the emergency doctor and the patient using SDM which is when the patient relies on their life experiences, values, and preferences while the EM physician contributes his/her medical knowledge to improve decision-making. I have been involved in several projects to help identify barriers to SDM in the emergency department, and I am currently leading a research project on the implementation of SDM in oral anticoagulation therapy for patients with new onset atrial fibrillation. Through this novel concept, I learned how to effectively communicate with patients about their illnesses and the benefit of giving them an active role in choosing their care plan.

Entering medical school, I developed an original research project incorporating my life experiences. Five years ago, my grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. In medical school, I learned of the benefits of various alternative treatments of neurodegenerative diseases. Combining my experience with Alzheimer’s and improvisation, I developed a study where elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were enrolled in an eight-week improvisation class. My efforts to improve the participants’ verbal fluency, level of depression and cognition using a treatment that had not yet been explored gave me the ability to administer care with the tools given to me by past experiences. Approaching the undifferentiated ED patient similarly requires resourcefulness and problem-solving which can stem from past life experiences. I believe I will be able to pull from these experiences salient information applicable to the situation because improvisation has helped me nurture this characteristic.

In my future career, I see myself working with underserved populations and performing research. There I can lift those who are in need as well as continue to research improvements in patient engagement through SDM. I know if I am given the chance to practice medicine in an environment that fosters ingenuity, communication and resourcefulness I can continue to be strong advocate for my patients and become a great EM physician.

Building from a unique background, the author of this residency personal statement brings a unique element to the table – improvisation. Similar to the personal statement above, the author uses their passion and interests outside of medicine to illustrate how the skills they have developed in that area will translate to their being an effective physician. 

Notably, the author also describes his novel research project incorporating improvisation into research and the backstory of how this idea was derived from Alzheimer’s dementia effecting his own family members. This simple anecdote reinforces the applicant’s passion for improvisation, their interest in furthering the scientific literature through research, and the personal connection to a condition. 

The applicant comes across as interesting. However, to further improve the impact of the essay, the author may consider tightening up the conclusion with a reference back to improvisation or other parting words that are more unique.

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  • v.14(5); 2022 Oct

Ten Steps for Writing an Exceptional Personal Statement

Danielle jones.

All authors are with Emory University School of Medicine

Danielle Jones, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine, Associate Section Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine Grady Section, and Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency

J. Richard Pittman, Jr

J. Richard Pittman Jr, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine, and Program Director, Fourth Year Internal Medicine Sub-Internship

Kimberly D. Manning

Kimberly D. Manning, MD, FACP, FAAP, is Professor of Medicine, and Associate Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Department of Medicine

The personal statement is an important requirement for residency and fellowship applications that many applicants find daunting. Beyond the cognitive challenge of writing an essay, time limitations for busy senior residents on clinical rotations present added pressure. Objective measures such as scores and evaluations paint only a partial picture of clinical and academic performance, leaving gaps in a candidate's full portrait. 1 , 2 Applicants, seemingly similar on paper, may have striking differences in experiences and distances traveled that would not be captured without a personal narrative. 2 , 3 We recommend, therefore, reframing personal statements as the way to best highlight applicants' greatest strengths and accomplishments. A well-written personal statement may be the tipping point for a residency or fellowship interview invitation, 4 , 5 which is particularly important given the heightened competition for slots due to increased participation on virtual platforms. Data show that 74% to 78% of residency programs use personal statements in their interview selection process, and 48% to 54% use them in the final rank. 6 , 7 With our combined 50 years of experience as clerkship and residency program directors (PDs) we value the personal statement and strongly encourage our trainees to seize the opportunity to feature themselves in their words.

Our residency and medical school leadership roles position us to edit and review numerous resident and student personal statements annually. This collective experience has helped us identify patterns of struggle for trainees: trouble starting, difficulty organizing a cogent narrative, losing the “personal” in the statement, and failing to display unique or notable attributes. While a bland personal statement may not hurt an applicant, it is a missed opportunity. 4 , 8 We also have distinguished helpful personal statement elements that allow PDs to establish candidates' “fit” with their desired residency or fellowship. A recent study supports that PDs find unique applicant information from personal statements helpful to determine fit. 4 Personal statement information also helps programs curate individualized interview days (eg, pair interviewers, guide conversations, highlight desirable curricula). Through our work with learners, we developed the structured approach presented here ( Figure 1 ). Applicants can use our approach to minimize typical struggles and efficiently craft personal statements that help them stand out. Busy residents, particularly, have minimal time to complete fellowship applications. We acknowledge there is no gold standard or objective measures for effective personal statement preparation. 9 Our approach, however, combined with a practical tool ( Figure 2 ), has streamlined the process for many of our mentees. Moreover, faculty advisors and program leaders, already challenged by time constraints, can use this tool to enhance their coaching and save time, effort, and cognitive energy.

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Structured Approach to Writing a Personal Statement

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Ten Steps for Writing an Exceptional Personal Statement: Digital Tool

Note: Use the QR code to download the digital tool and follow the 10 steps highlighted in Figure 1.

Given word count and space limitations, deciding what to include in a personal statement can be challenging. An initial brainstorm helps applicants recall personal attributes and experiences that best underscore key strengths (Step 1). 10 Writing explicit self-affirmations is challenging, so we recommend pairing with a near peer who may offer insight. Useful prompts include:

  • ▪ What 3 words best encapsulate me?
  • ▪ What accomplishments make me proud?
  • ▪ What should every program know about me?

Reflecting on these questions (Step 2) helps elucidate the foundations of the narrative, 10 including strengths, accomplishments, and unique elements to be included. Additionally, the preparation steps help uncover the “thread” that connects the story sequentially. While not all agree that personal or patient stories are necessary, they are commonly included. 5 One genre analysis showed that 97% of applicants to residency programs in internal medicine, family medicine, and surgery used an opening that included either a personal narrative (66%) and/or a decision to enter medicine (54%) or the specialty of choice (72%). 9 Radiology PDs ranked personal attributes as the second most important component in personal statements behind choice of specialty. 9 Further, a descriptive study of anesthesia applicants' personal statements ranked those that included elements such as discussion of a family's or friend's illness or a patient case as more original. 3 We feel that personal and patient stories often provide an interesting hook to engage readers, as well as a mechanism to highlight (1) personal characteristics, (2) journey to and/or enthusiasm for desired discipline, and (3) professional growth, all without giving the impression of being boastful. Sketching these Step 2 fundamentals prepares applicants to begin writing with intention.

Writing and Structuring

Once key elements are identified, the next steps assist with the actual writing. Utilizing information gleaned from the “Preparing” steps, start with a freewriting exercise (Step 3), an unrestricted association of ideas aimed at answering, “What experiences have cultivated my strong interest in pursuing [______]?” At this stage, ignore spelling and grammar. Just write, even if the product is the roughest, rough draft imaginable. 10 Setting a timer for 10 to 15 minutes establishes a less intimidating window to start. Freewriting generates the essential initial content that typically will require multiple revisions. 10

Next, we recommend structuring the freewriting content into suggested paragraphs (Step 4), using the following framework to configure the first draft:

  • ▪ Introductory paragraph: A compelling story, experience, or something that introduces the applicant and makes the reader want to know more (the hook). If related to a patient or other person, it should underscore the writer's qualities.
  • ▪ Paragraph 2: Essential details that a program must know about the applicant and their proudest accomplishments.
  • ▪ Paragraph(s) 3-4: Specific strengths related to the specialty of choice and leadership experiences.
  • ▪ Closing paragraph: What the applicant values in a training program and what they believe they can contribute.

Evaluate what has been written and ensure that, after the engaging hook, the body incorporates the best pieces identified during the preparation steps (Step 5). A final paragraph affords ample space for a solid conclusion to the thread. Occasionally the narrative flows better with separate strengths and leadership paragraphs for a total of 5, but we strongly recommend the final statement not exceed 1 single-spaced page to reduce cognitive load on the reader.

This part of the process involves revising the piece into a final polished personal statement. Before an early draft is shared with others, it should be evaluated for several important factors by returning to the initial questions and then asking (Step 6):

“Does this personal statement…”

  • Amplify my strengths, highlight my proudest accomplishments, and emphasize what a program must know about me?
  • Have a logical flow?
  • Accurately attribute content and avoid plagiarism?
  • Use proper grammar and avoid slang or profanity?

While not as challenging as the other steps, optimization takes time. 10 At this stage, “resting” the draft for 1 week minimum (Step 7) puts a helpful distance between the writer and their work before returning, reading, and editing. 10 Writers can edit their own work to a point, but they often benefit by enlisting a trusted peer or advisor for critiques. Hearing their draft read aloud by a peer or advisor allows the applicant to evaluate the work from another perspective while noting how well it meets the criteria from the tool (provided as online supplementary data).

A virtual or in-person meeting between applicant and mentor ultimately saves time and advances the writer to a final product more quickly than an email exchange. Sending the personal statement in advance helps facilitate the meeting. Invite the advisor to candidly comment on the tool's criteria to yield the most useful feedback (Step 8). When done effectively, edits can be made in real time with the mentor's input.

We bring closure to the process by focusing on spelling and grammar checks (Step 9). Clarity, conciseness, and the use of proper English were rated as extremely important by PDs. 3 , 9 Grammatical errors distract readers, highlight inattention to detail, and detract from the personal statement. 3 , 9 Once more, we recommend resting the draft before calling it final (Step 10). If the piece required starting over or significant rewriting based on feedback received, we also suggest seeking additional feedback on this draft, ideally from someone in the desired residency or fellowship discipline. If only minor edits (eg, flow, language) were incorporated, the personal statement can be considered complete at this time.

Writing a personal statement represents a unique opportunity for residency and fellowship applicants to amplify their ERAS application beyond the confines of its objective components. 3 Using this stepwise approach encourages each personal statement to be truly personal and streamlines the process for applicants and reviewers alike. All stakeholders benefit: applicants, regardless of their scores and academic metrics, can arm themselves with powerful means for self-advocacy; PDs gain a clearer idea of individual applicants, allowing them to augment the selection process and curate the individual interview day; and faculty mentors can offer concrete direction to every mentee seeking their help.

Personal Statements

Your CV is a beautiful, readable, error-free summary of your accomplishments. You are moving on to your personal statement. You are ready, in one page, to tell residency program directors why they should select you, everything that has led you to this moment, to this decision, to this specialty choice. No pressure at all!

This blank page can be intimidating to many students. You are not alone. Take your time, so you can write several drafts.

Your CV tells people what you have done. Your personal statement tells people who you are.

  • Do not use space in your statement re-stating what is already in your CV or other parts of your residency application.
  • Don't redo your personal statement from your medical school application. You don't need to convince someone to admit you. You are in! You will have a job at the end of your fourth year.
  • Do use your personal statement to help you find the job that is the most ideal match for you and your goals. You are going to be a doctor in a few short months. This personal statement should be much more focused on your specialty selection, your professional traits and your accomplishments that will impact your work as a physician.

A well-written personal statement should accomplish the following goals:

  • Help pull you out of the crowd of applicants – be sure to include unique experiences, background, and information.
  • Give the reviewer a glimpse at the type of resident you will be – don't say you are hard working (all residency applicants are). Instead, include examples of how you have acquired the attributes you want to feature in your statement. (See more ideas below.)
  • Make the case that this specialty is really the right match for you. No program director wants to select a student who, six months into the residency, realizes they are not a good fit. What have you done to be sure this is the right career path for you?
  • Be specific about what you like about the specialty. Do you enjoy the procedures? Why? Do you like the environment of the OR? Why? What type of patients do you enjoy working with? What experiences led you to consider this specialty? And, ultimately, why did you select this specialty?
  • What about you will contribute to the specialty and the program? Residency programs, and residents, want to select their future peers and colleagues. What do you bring to them? What can you offer? How will you enhance that area of medicine?

Students should select six to 10 characteristics to weave into their statements. Some possibilities you could consider including are:

  • leadership skills
  • future practice location
  • team building skills
  • organization
  • ability to work under stress
  • problem solving
  • patient communication skills

Sample Personal Statements

Sample statements are from University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine graduates who matched into various specialties. Ideas can be used for any specialty choice. The Associate Dean and the Director of Student Services are available to give you feedback on your personal statement draft. You can email a draft to Cherie Singer .

  • Anesthesiology
  • Dermatology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Plastic Surgery

Online Resources

  • Medical Blog – personal statement pos

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

Match Application Blog

Personal statement samples blog.

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want my team to help you with your Residency Application, click here.

Your personal statement is an opportunity to tell your story – it is truly an understated component of the residency application! You have to make program directors want to meet you by writing an impressive personal statement that makes you stand out among the many who apply.

In this post, we will provide you with excellent personal statement examples that you can use as templates when writing your own personal statement for your residency application!

Sample 1: the basketball player | internal medicine.

A coach’s instructions, two team chants, followed by the blare of a whistle, opened and closed basketball practice every day. With repetition, my teammates and I strove for perfection to build a skill set that could be recalled when it mattered most. To love the sport of basketball is to love the grind. During my internal medicine rotation, I witnessed similar devotion by attending physicians and residents. Determination to master the foundation of medicine while engaging in a cohesive multidisciplinary team is what resonated deeply with me, and greatly influenced my choice to become an internist.

My passionate desire to become a physician first stemmed from when my grandfather was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and, later on, heart failure. Initially perplexed by the complexity of his diagnosis, I spent hours researching congestive heart failure, determined to find ways to increase his time with us. Being my grandfather’s primary caretaker towards the end of his life instilled the notion of service and fueled my passion for helping others through this career path in medicine.

During my third-year internal medicine rotation, one of my first patients was a 65-year-old female who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and began crying as my attending delivered her prognosis. I talked to her every day, trying to make her feel better. While nothing could completely change her affect, she seemed to appreciate my company. As I reflected on her case, I realized how much I enjoyed getting to know my patients and connecting with them personally, in addition to understanding the complex pathology that plagued them. Several similar experiences on my internal medicine rotation drew me to this specialty which offers a holistic approach and appeals to my innate desire to understand how things work. Internal medicine requires one to understand the interactions between the different systems to diagnose and treat a patient effectively. Additionally, I enjoy the acutely evolving nature of this field and the endless fellowship opportunities available upon completion of my residency training.

My passion for internal medicine led me to start the Internal Medicine Interest Group at our school. Listening to the experiences of different internists further solidified my resolve. Seeing the inspiration within the eyes of the younger medical students as our guests talked about this specialty made me realize the value of role models and generational teaching. This was a source of inspiration for me to pursue a career that not only allows me to take excellent care of my patients, but also teach the next generation of doctors on how to do the same. Being the president of this interest group and the point guard for Duke University’s basketball team, I gained invaluable insight as to how my past experiences shaped my ability to do better in the future, so that my team could achieve lofty goals. This awareness will prove to be paramount in the hospital when serving as an internal medicine physician.

As I enter my fourth year of medical school, I realize how similar medicine and basketball are. The teamwork, which unifies everyone towards a similar goal, the perseverance and long hours required to master the profession, and, arguably the most important, the confidence and trust you build between the team and the people relying on its performance, are critical to medicine and sport alike. Just as I was a trusted member of my basketball team who always put the team’s interest above mine to ensure our success, I am determined to serve as an integral part of the medical team and will do my best towards becoming an excellent clinician while training at your residency program.

Sample 2: The Farmer | Internal Medicine/ ICU

Growing up, my father’s dream for my future was that I would someday take over from him in running the family farm. My childhood was a continuous balancing act between completing homework, executing my farm duties, and being a good son to my parents. Years of navigating these competing responsibilities had made me fairly adept at multi-tasking, and in the back of my mind, I still harbored the fantasy that I could both fulfill my obligations to the farm while also entertaining my growing passion for medicine. However, this naïve, but well-intentioned vision for my future came crashing down when I was admitted to the hospital for meningitis. Spending days on end in the largest hospital in our city, I witnessed firsthand the impact of exceptional and compassionate patient care. I was impressed by the vast scientific knowledge and skillful manner in which my physician communicated my diagnosis and treatment plan with me. I knew then that I could never work on the family farm and that my true life’s calling was to become a physician.

For the next two years, I worked as a waiter to be able to afford my dream of attending medical school. Every day after a long shift at work, I would return home and study for the admissions exam until I fell asleep. After a grueling two years, I gained admission to medical school, thrilled to finally be studying the subject to which I had chosen to dedicate my life.  

I quickly developed a passion for internal medicine as I began my clinical rotations, and in particular, the high-acuity patients I encountered in the intensive care unit. I was amazed by the medical complexity of each patient and the breadth of knowledge that critical care physicians must have in order to rapidly diagnose and treat patients, many of whom were hanging on to life by a thread. What I most enjoyed about my time rotating in the ICU was that almost every single patient was a medical puzzle, and that it took the concerted and deep collaboration of a whole team of healthcare providers to come to a suitable consensus on patient management. It was particularly awe-inspiring to see patients on the brink of death fully recover after spending a few days in the ICU. I quickly realized that I had found my intellectual and spiritual home, and that I would like nothing more than to dedicate my life to the care of the sickest patients in the hospital.  

When I expressed my interest in pursuing internal medicine residency followed by a critical care fellowship to my mentor, she immediately recommended pursuing my dream through training in the US given the comparatively better access to cutting-edge technology, clinical experts, and seemingly limitless research opportunities. However, the financial burden was a huge barrier for me. I tackled this obstacle in the only way I had ever known how; by working in the evenings after school and on days off to save up enough money to come to the US. But even that was not enough to reach my goals, so I took on a job as a general practitioner in India for two years to be able to afford the plane tickets and the battery of exams needed for entry into US residency programs. This experience helped to hone my clinical skills and bedside manner and will serve me well during my residency training. Additionally, since coming to the US, I have become more involved in clinical research, working alongside critical care physicians at the Mayo Clinic on a number of projects and learning more about the intricacies of the US healthcare system.

Having spent two years in the US, I am ready to embark on the next step in my academic journey and look for a program with comprehensive internal medicine training and robust research infrastructure to expand my growing passion for clinical research. I aspire to be a clinician-scientist who takes insights from my interactions with patients in the ICU to further the field, both from a treatment perspective and from the perspective of improving health care equity and access.

My journey has been arduous, circuitous, and marked by many obstacles along the way. But I know of no other pathway as intellectually stimulating or personally rewarding as medicine. My father has since come to terms with his initial disappointment that I would not be taking up his mantle to work on the family farm. But he has expressed newfound pride in my goal to pursue medicine and to provide excellent care for patients and their families the way that the doctors that treated my meningitis did for me all those years ago.

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

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Sample 3: Schizophrenia | Psychiatry

I hear voices! These three words summarized my grandmother’s lifelong suffering. I grew up in an Indian family, accustomed to the tales of old people hearing voices, seeing strange things, and wandering away for months. All this was very commonplace and rarely attended to. In a country plagued with limited access to education and healthcare literacy, mental health disorders were considered a myth. The social stigma precluded discussion of symptoms and provider visits. It was only during my medical schooling that I understood such symptoms to be part of mental illness that affects patients and causes intense distress. As my curiosity was aroused, I found psychiatry to be my true calling.

The opportunity to complete four months of psychiatry rotations during my final year of medical school allowed me to witness and treat psychiatric diseases that I had only known previously as vague symptoms. I remember taking care of identical twins afflicted with schizoaffective disorder stemming from years of extensive emotional and physical abuse by their family. Years of lack of care and social abandonment had resulted in shared hallucinations and delusions, with multiple suicidal attempts. Effectively gaining their trust by validating their concerns enabled me to unveil their self-injurious behavior and suicidality, prompting appropriate management. On subsequent visits, both patients had significant improvement in their symptoms with a more positive outlook and adherence to medications and psychotherapy. Such experiences and many others that followed provided me with an in-depth insight into the contributing factors to mental health disorders and the effectiveness of prompt and adequate treatment in optimal patient recovery.

Since relocating to the United States for a master’s program in clinical psychology at the University of San Diego, California, I have gained clinical and research acumen that has further reinforced my passion for psychiatry. My role as a crisis counselor for the past two years with CalHOPE, California, has provided me with clinical versatility and a profound understanding of patients’ ongoing conflicts. Interacting with hundreds of patients and communities with depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder, has helped me hone my skills as a listener to actively pick up subtle cues and offer a tailored approach to care. Nothing has been more gratifying than witnessing patient improvement with the right treatment.

Currently, I spearhead the research on the psychological effects of drug misuse and addiction in underserved populations along with different strategies to facilitate early diagnosis and intervention. I have learned the skills required to formulate a research question and design a study from an idea to publication and seek to utilize this knowledge to positively impact patient care across the globe. I am passionate about research and working with communities combating drug addiction and mental health stigmatization. Therefore, I seek a residency program that will equip me with the skills to become an excellent psychiatrist and researcher so that I can build therapeutic alliances with diverse patient groups and backgrounds.

My clinical experiences have illuminated that the most admirable physicians are those who cater to the medical and psychological needs of patients from different socioeconomic backgrounds. While my grandmother’s tales of hallucinations served as the fuel that ignited my interest in psychiatry, every experience I went through during my medical journey confirmed that psychiatry is my natural calling. I stand now as an aspirant for this field seeking the requisite training that will enable me to be a beacon of support for communities with mental health disorders and break the barriers of stigmatization and social injustice.

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Sample 4: the caribbean school | obgyn.

“Time to close”, said the scrub nurse as she placed the needle driver in my hand, just a few hours after a young female patient had presented to the emergency department at the Sint Maarten Medical Center with vaginal bleeding. Within minutes of her arrival, she was being rolled back to the operating room for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. As a student rotating on the service, I asked to scrub into the case with the team and was given the opportunity to close at the end of the procedure. That experience was my first exposure to the unique world of obstetrics and gynecology and served as my catalyst for pursuing this specialty.

As a second-generation American immigrant, I had watched both my parents train as physicians in their home country and subsequently re-train in America in their respective specialties. Their sacrifice and dedication towards building a foundation and home for me and my siblings, inspired my work ethic. Their passion and commitment to their patients drew me to the field of medicine.

After persistent efforts, I secured admission into a medical school in the Caribbean. Studying medicine at Sint Maarten, I knew the challenges that awaited along my career path as a physician seeking to integrate into the American residency system. I pursued each opportunity to serve the medical community of Sint Maarten, while advancing my education as I shadowed OBGYN physicians on Saturday mornings, during my free time. I obtained history and examined every patient on the floor prior to them being seen by my attendings. This experience not only improved my clinical knowledge and skills significantly, but also opened my eyes to the diverse needs of the island and its people. Living in Sint Maarten allowed me to witness the effects of low socioeconomic status, lack of resources, and limited medical literacy on the overall health and well-being of a community.

Moving back to the US for my clinical rotations, my passion for women’s health continued to fuel my desire to pursue residency training in OBGYN. Whether it was in the delivery room encouraging a first-time mother or in the clinic counseling a patient with bladder incontinence, I was drawn by the breadth of the practice. During my third year of medical school, I assisted a team of OBGYN residents who were comparing surgical outcomes after laparoscopic versus robotic hysterectomy. This experience showed me the impact that researchers can make on patients’ lives world-wide, and kindled my interest to develop the skillset that propelled an idea to a publication. Presenting our research at the ACOG meeting this past spring allowed me to learn more about the intricacies of OBGYN and engage in meaningful conversations with leaders of the field.

Although that Saturday morning at the Sint Maarten Medical Center sparked my interest in this specialty, it was the culmination of my clinical experiences which affirmed it. I look forward to integrating patient care, clinical skill, and technology in surgical management throughout my residency. By training at an academic center, I hope to continue my contributions to this field as a learner, a teacher, and a leader. The same way my parents inspired my passion and dedication to medicine, I hope to inspire future generations during residency and beyond.

Sample 5: The Iraqi Female Applicant | Surgery

‘Females can never be surgeons!’ These were the words that resonated in my ears every time I expressed my interest in surgery. My medical school tutors, family, friends, all dissuaded me from pursuing this course. In a patriarchal society like the one I grew up in, women were expected to adhere to restrictive cultural norms. Thankfully, I persevered.

Growing up in war-torn Iraq made for a difficult and unusual childhood. War and fighting were the norm, as were constant displacement and unstable living situations. Due to the unrelenting violence that ravaged the country since before I can remember, the emergency room in my medical school hospital, Al Mosul University Hospital, was constantly flooded with trauma patients.

The combination of diverse cases and shortage of clinical staff proved the perfect storm for piquing my surgical interests, as I was afforded the opportunity to perform tasks typically reserved for first and second-year residents. Though I quickly rose to the intense demands of working in Al Mosul’s ED, my male colleagues would often remind me that surgery was not an appropriate avenue for women, and that I should instead choose an ‘easier’ specialty that would allow me to focus on raising a family. For me, however, the decision was crystal clear. Surgery was the perfect blend of manual dexterity and methodical decision making. I was not only fascinated by the diversity of surgical cases, but also by the surgeons’ abilities to repair and heal the horrific war injuries. Seeing patients who suffered bomb blasts on the brink of death be stabilized through expert surgical intervention sparked my passion for the incredible restorative power of surgery. The fast pace, required precision, and the exquisite coordination of working as part of a surgical team further cemented my interest.

At a local surgical conference, I was fortunate to meet a visiting US surgeon who was in Mosul as part of his mission trip to Iraq. After speaking to him at length about my burgeoning interest in the field, he encouraged me to follow my passion, and even helped me secure several rotations in the US. It was during these rotations that I received my first exposure to the US healthcare system, from its incredible access to technological advancements unheard of in most Iraqi hospitals to its focus on cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce. Following my rotations, I spent two years as a post-doctoral clinical researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), investigating longitudinal outcomes for trauma patients who sustained debilitating war injuries. My research years were transformational, not only providing me a robust foundation in clinical research, but also giving me a deeper appreciation for the positive impact of holistic care on trauma patients’ lives and wellbeing. As a result of my experiences at BWH, I hope to enroll in a program with equal parts emphasis on surgical and research skills development and that embraces diversity as a core value. Following my residency, I aspire to return to Iraq and continue to treat patients suffering from trauma, conduct research on optimizing outcomes for trauma patients, and educating the next generation of surgeons.

As a female growing up in Iraq, I faced many challenges during my quest to secure a residency spot in the US. Despite the discouragement of tutors and family members as well as the daunting prospect of starting a long and difficult journey in a new country, I am steadfast in the pursuit of my professional dreams. I have one goal that I will keep fighting for in the years ahead: an unwavering commitment to make a difference in patients’ lives and empower women in Iraq and around the world to help me make that difference. My message to those women who, like me, are told by those around them that they can never be surgeons: do not be discouraged. Let their words fuel your strength and fight to make the world a better place for yourself and your patients!

personal statement for internal medicine residency examples

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Medical residency (internal): personal statement

Internal medicine residency personal statement example - preview

  • Reading time: 3 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 4th July 2019
  • File format: Text

Limping out of the court with a twisted ankle, I winced in pain. As the main player of the university Table-Tennis team, I was determined not to let my team’s effort go in vain. The final match was two days away and I decided to focus on my strengths- my backhand chop, as opposed to only concentrating on my opponent’s weakness. As I was getting my foot examined, my coach remarked, ‘The pain of regret is greater than the fear of failure’. This thought comes back to me today as I prepare to apply for my Internal Medicine Residency in the United States.

Exploring newer horizons and pushing myself to resist complacency have always been my mantra, be it academics or sports. During my medical school rotations, I was drawn towards Internal Medicine as a subject. The hunger to go beyond the prescribed basic course requirements pushed me to travel alone to the United States for my clerkships in the fourth year of medical school. I observed how excellent medical practices integrated with cutting edge technology are a perfect blend for providing superior patient care.

Throughout my Infectious Disease rotation at the University of Connecticut, I was introduced to a wide spectrum of infectious illnesses – Skin and soft tissue infections, sexually transmitted illnesses, HIV, Hepatitis C, infective endocarditis and even my very first case of a tick bite! These experiences made me yearn to come back to this country to pursue residency training with an aim to better myself with every chance. I am eternally grateful to my attendings and fellows there, who recognized my enthusiasm and encouraged my dream of applying for an Internal Medicine residency. With this in mind, I set about taking up the American Licensure exams while working in the Department of Gastroenterology at Fortis Hospitals, India.

I had the privilege of working with renowned physicians during my term at Fortis, many of whom were trained in the United States. With the guidance of the excellent faculty, I was able to utilize the concept of evidence based care towards the treatment of the patient population. I also took up opportunities to tutor and teach students during their Internal Medicine rotations in the hospital. Their valuable feedback and encouraging response, coupled with appreciation from my superiors, instigated the desire to pursue an active role in academia in the future. I believe there is no better way to affect the future of medicine than by sharing knowledge with student physicians. It is during the training period that one has to develop keen observation skills without compartmentalizing the patient. Like Osler said, ‘The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the person who has the disease’. I cannot think of any other specialty which demands such extensive knowledge and application and provides a continuous scope for learning.

Although I continued to work towards my dream of an Internal Medicine Residency in the United States, the exposure to research eluded me. It was an incredible opportunity to broaden my horizon when I was accepted to work under Dr. Michael F. Holick, a pioneer in Vitamin D and Metabolic Bone Diseases at Boston University. I took it up as a challenge and over the months grew to understand the intricacies of research and how perfection in every little step matters to the end result. The translational research strengthened the application of my basic science knowledge in a clinical setting. During the six months spent in his laboratory and clinic, I observed and followed up frequently misdiagnosed conditions such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I witnessed how medicine being an all encompassing field requires the patient, doctor, as well as the society at large to play equally important and coordinated roles, demanding perfection and utmost commitment. This experience like many others before reinforced the importance of always pushing boundaries and exploring newer territories, to grow as an individual.

This very reason motivates me to continue to strive towards my dream of pursuing an Internal Medicine Residency in a well-rounded program, catering to a diverse group of conditions. I look forward to being a valuable contributor in the team, working towards the common goal of providing superior patient care. Having grown up with the influences and experiences that I have had, I know I have the dedication to do the hard work required to achieve my goals. Being a sportsperson made me a natural team player and also instilled discipline in me from a very young age. The final day of the tournament when I gave it my all and won the match- much to the delight of my team, it dawned on me what getting out of the comfort zone truly meant. It meant overcoming the fear of failure and breaking boundaries; and I had done just that.

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IMG Personal Statement Examples

IMG Personal Statement Examples

IMG personal statement examples outline a variety of important structural and content requirements for this component of your application. Reading residency personal statement examples can help you construct an essay that resonates with similar quality and assembly. The personal statement is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are and what appeals to you about their program. Because international medical graduate (IMG) status can make the match more difficult for some schools and residency programs, having a strong personal statement can significantly increase your chances of getting invited for an interview. In this article, we provide some examples of personal statements for IMGs to inspire your own.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 9 min read

Img personal statement example 1.

Since I was young, I’ve had a keen interest in wanting to become a doctor due to my mother’s influence; she’s a cardiologist who works at a hospital in my hometown in Georgia. She always encouraged me to make my own choices irrespective of hers, and she never tried to deliberately push me into medicine’s outstretched arms. Medicine, at least early on in my life, was never on my radar. I was too invested in my creative endeavors, which led to a burgeoning career as a commercial actress starting in elementary school. However, in my senior year of high school, I felt weighed down by the yawning void of my intellectual cravings. I was, as my mother would say, a scientist at heart, which I began to accept when I volunteered at the research institute at a local hospital studying new genomic technology.

I had my doubts about whether I would be able to pursue a career in medicine due to my conflicting creative interests; however, when I took a trip to Delhi, India, in my first year of undergraduate studies, I volunteered at a slum hospital, and it was the inspiration that aroused my already established interest in public health. I mostly observed the health care workers, but I assisted with routine medical tasks and fulfilled a supportive role during routine checkups. On rare occasions, I would provide advice about nutrition or general health to some patients, which invigorated my passion for helping others and illuminating health disparities; I hadn’t realized how pervasive the lack of health awareness was in this community; it both disheartened and mobilized my eagerness to explore medical school abroad.

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Growing up, I was not encouraged to get good grades or work hard in school. In fact, it was much the opposite: my father worked on a farm and my mother as a hairdresser. In school, I couldn’t rely on the support of my parents, who were both against academic pursuits. In their words, school was a meaningless, debt-accruing venture that accomplished nothing more than having a fancy piece of paper to hang on the wall. The start of my medical school journey began when I made the brave choice to apply to undergraduate programs instead of working on my father’s farm, which is what he always wanted me to do. We had lots of disagreements and negotiations; I ended up promising to work for him on weekends when I wasn’t studying, and the university was within reasonable commuting distance so I could still commit to the compromise.

However, as I finished my undergraduate studies, I knew I needed a change of scenery. I wanted to live in another part of the world where education and academic excellence were encouraged, not undermined. I decided I was going to complete my MD degree in Mexico, in a city that I knew was scourged by a lack of health care resources. I was intrigued by the prospect of learning a new health care system in a less developed geographical area because I saw the parallels with my own hometown, where people tend to ignore their ailments because they’re suspicious of the health care system – again, a consequence of the lack of educational resources. I was convinced that medical school was the only way to make a real collective difference in this attitude emblemized in some rural areas. And, when I volunteered at a clinic specializing in sexual health, I became aware of how some obstinate traditionalist views impair good-faith attempts to educate and protect reproductive rights for women.

The Philippines is known for its commitment to health care excellence. My family is no different. My parents own a clinic in Manila; my mother is a family doctor, and my father is a nurse. My two older brothers work at the clinic fulfilling administrative roles while they complete their undergraduate degrees. They intend to become doctors to help my parents run their clinic and, eventually, inherit it. As high expectations abound, I always felt that I was set up to become a doctor by proximity to such high-achieving family members dedicated to health care. Of course, I was nudged gently in that direction, but my autonomy was never compromised. My first exposure to working in a clinical environment was as a teen, when I assisted in recreational therapy at my parents’ clinic. As expected, I found the interactions I had, particularly with elderly patients, to be interesting and rewarding. I had a knack for humor, which seemed to be remedial for many of the patients who were palliative or undergoing life-changing surgery that would require extensive physical rehabilitation.

Yes, internal medicine is one of the many IMG friendly residency programs .

According to the results of the program director survey published by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the second most important listing in the section for personal characteristics and other knowledge of applicants considered in deciding whom to interview was the personal statement.

You need to demonstrate your skillset and inclination toward the specialty you’re interested in using clinical experiences and research. With that said, getting into too much detail about your research can be distracting and redundant, especially if you include this information in other application components.

You should discuss what you hope to gain from a residency program in the US, and why it’s important for you to pursue further education in this country as opposed to the one you completed your medical degree in.

You might decide to complete your fourth year of medical school in the US to gain exposure to US clinics and health care systems. Gaining references can also be a beneficial aspect of completing at least part of your education in the US.

Because you’re an international applicant, programs are more competitive and usually present more challenges for this type of applicant, which can reduce your chances of getting matched.

You should talk about any clinical experiences that contributed to your decision to pursue residency in the US, in addition to any other activities that activated your scientific interests and developed your clinical skills.

IMG residency consultants can help you navigate many of the challenges you will face as an international applicant. They can help you organize and write your materials and develop a strategy for applying to programs that suit your applicant status and background.

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Internal Medicine – Personal Statement

As I was making my final decision on my career path I tried to write several personal statements for different specialties. The one that was the easiest and most enjoyable to write was the one I wrote for internal medicine. I found that there were lots of stories I’ve gathered during my third year rotation in internal medicine that resonated with me and affirmed my determination to become a physician.

I felt that my personal statement reflected on the “professionalism” competency as my initial story demonstrated my personal struggle between social stigma and maintaining professionalism by growing out of fear. I’m happy that I was able to stay respectful and compassionate and grow as a professional.

I plan on continuing this competency by being an honest, kind and respectful health care provider throughout my medical career.


“Who are you?”… “I’m the medical student working with the internal medicine team. It’s nice to meet you.” On my first day of my internal medicine rotation I was assigned a unique patient. He was a prisoner with a fever, melena, cellulitis and signs of acute kidney injury. As I walked into the inmate’s room—no doubt looking very nervous—I quickly introduced myself. Wasting no time, I took a brief history and proceeded onto my physical exam. His right leg was visibly inflamed and swollen, with pus seeping from a superficial wound. His foley catheter had minimal amounts of urine and he exhibited costovertebral angle tenderness. On a rectal exam, the melena was apparent by sight and smell. I began to formulate a list of hospital problems, and with the help and guidance of my attending physician and residents, we created a treatment plan. Each day as I visited my patient, I began to see the positive effects of our treatment. His wounds were healing. As I measured the amount of lower extremity edema with a measuring tape, I found the swelling had decreased dramatically in a matter of days. He began to have adequate amounts of clear, yellow urine, and he had multiple days without a fever. Even his melena resolved! However, the best part was that I grew to know this patient as a person. He was a proud father of two grown children: one a kindergarten teacher, the other an engineer for the Navy. He enjoyed a close relationship with his father and his hobbies included fixing cars and playing guitar. I learned that his prisoner status was not his defining characteristic and that he was like any other patient. Though initially I perceived him as someone to fear, he was just another person who needed help. During this time, I appreciated the opportunity I was given as a medical student to learn about the human body and to have this rare window into someone else’s life.

When I decided to pursue medicine, I was the first in my family to attempt a medical career. My only experience with doctors was conducting research with them or shadowing in college. Still, there were certain qualities I admired about physicians and their practices that drew me toward medicine. I found these were best exemplified in internal medicine. Firstly, I enjoyed the idea of a life-long relationship with patients and pursuing a career with the main principle of helping others. Next, I found the challenging and detective-like process of interrogation (history taking), scene investigation (physical exam), and forensics (labs and imaging) to be thrilling and satisfying. Finally, it appealed to my love of organization and details since everyday I would write notes, make lists, and constantly adjust my patients’ plans until the mystery was solved and a life had been saved.

My extracurricular activities, work experiences, and research further contributed to my interest in internal medicine. Before entering medical school, I had conducted cardiac/radiology research at the Los Angeles Biomedical Institute. I enjoyed viewing the human body through CT imaging and was fascinated by the complexities and inner workings of the heart. In my first and second year of medical school, I worked with a medical oncologist and was able to see the varied manifestations of breast cancer and how medications can become a lifesaver. Then once I started surgery rotations, I found the most interesting and intellectually challenging moments were during pre-rounds and morning rounds where I formulated differentials and interacted with patients. Out of all the avenues of medicine I had explored, I found that internists spent the most time with their patients and provided healing physically, emotionally and socially. I have come to believe internal medicine is the foundation and home base where patients are cared for from the beginning to the end of their hospital stays. I want to become this anchor and support for my patients.

As a future physician, I envision myself as not only an efficient and comprehensive clinician, but also as a caring patient advocate. My ideal practice would focus mainly on clinical practice with some research and teaching opportunities. During my free time I envision myself volunteering in free clinics or participating in medical mission trips to help those in need. So who am I? Simply, I am a doctor-to-be who wants to be a friend and guide for my patients through this ever-changing healthcare system.


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Residency Personal Statement Examples: Top Tips for Best Length, Content, and Structure

Residency Personal Statement Examples Top Tips

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In this article, we look at residency personal statement examples with our top tips for the best length, content and structure.

A residency personal statement is an opportunity to explain why you’ve chosen your specialty and show program directors why you’re the best candidate.

You need to leave a lasting impression on program directors.

Program directors read thousands of personal statements so they really want to see something original.

Your statement should highlight specific qualities that make you stand out and shine in order to help you get into a top residency program.

Read on for examples that could be used by candidates for internal medicine, paediatrics and psychiatry residencies.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of the best structure for Residency Personal Statements

Residency Personal Statement Example 1: Paediatrics

  • Residency Personal Statement Example 2: Internal Medicine

Residency Personal Statement Example 3: Psychology

  • 8 Tips on How to write a Personal Statement for Residency?

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

More personal statement tutorials, examples of the best structure for residency personal statements .

1. Narrative Statement

For example, a narrative statement for a residency could be:

I wanted to work in the community health network since I was a young child in a very deprived neighborhood. My parents were both health practitioners and I grew up in a household where learning about medicine was the norm. In high school, I took advanced classes in biology, chemistry and physics and continued my studies at Georgetown University where I earned my medical degree. After completing my residency at Medstar D.C., I want to return home to help underserved communities as their new primary care provider.

In the second example below, the applicant writes about her childhood friend who had cancer, which made the applicant become passionate about one day studying oncology to help others in the same way.

2. Goal Statement

For a residency application, a goal statement could be:

I want to become an emergency medicine consultant in order to use my expertise in trauma medicine to improve emergency health care in developing countries. My dream is to join Doctors Without Borders to help treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people as well as to help train local healthcare professionals to provide sustainable high-level care.

This statement demonstrates the applicant’s desire to grow personally and professionally, as well as their ambition to use their knowledge for the greater good. It also shows that they have thought about what they want out of their career and that they are pursuing this specific field in order to work with an NGO or other non-profit.

In the first example statement, the writer states candidly that although they did not always know they wanted to be a paediatrician, they are now completely committed to this path with the goal of working in an inner-city community.

3. Challenges Faced

Have you struggled with an illness that affected your health and well-being – depression, cancer, or a serious accident? For example:

Being diagnosed with skin cancer at age 12 turned my world upside-down, and the treatment I received at our local hospital gave me both a future and a burning desire to become an oncologist myself. I aspire to work in pediatric oncology in order to help other families and to be the kind of empathetic doctor that every patient deserves.

Have you had a challenging upbringing or background – for example, growing up in poverty, or in the foster care system, have you experienced the death of a parent?

Could these experiences make you a better doctor?

In the third example, the candidate talks about how the challenges his sister faced as a high-functioning individual with ADHD, anxiety and depression and how that inspired him to volunteer with a charity overseas, ultimately leading him to pursue a psychiatry residency.

In applying for the paediatrics residency program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I am aiming to join an outstanding team from whom I can learn to be an excellent pediatrician. I used to think I was quite an indecisive person because I wanted to try lots of different things and didn’t feel passionate about one particular hobby or sport growing up. However, I came to realize that in my own way I am unique because of having a wide range of interests and the ability to turn my hand to many different things. In the end, I tried fencing at 14 years old and found my ‘forever sport’ and am enjoying my volunteer role as our team medic.

I had the same feeling for the first few years of medical school – I was passionate about medicine, certainly, enjoying the theory as well as the various clinical rotations but didn’t have a clear idea about a residency specialism that many of my classmates seemed to, so it took a while to realize that paediatrics was the place for me.

My Pre-Medical Biochemistry undergraduate degree at B State University involved processing huge amounts of data and I enjoyed the challenge. Our pre-med advisor helped me sort through my strengths to choose a residency specialism and she pointed out that paediatricians work in a similar way, when confronted with symptoms presenting outside the usual range of childhood illnesses. The more challenging the cases I might encounter in Philadelphia, the more I can learn and grow as a doctor.

There were several moments of clarification along the way. I was fascinated by new research into sleep disorders among young teens and the negative effect some medications might have on them. Similarly, supporting a local clinic and attending workshops on screening for anxiety really resonated with me. During my final year, I sat in the NICU with an anxious first time mother whose baby was about to be discharged after six weeks. I walked her through a list of questions and a checklist to go through with the baby’s paediatrician and called myself to set up the appointment. In the end, I realized that I want to be a clinician who can support families and young people in the community, move towards a diagnosis or at least identify the right specialist, and see children throughout their journey to becoming adults.

I’m a people person and can quickly put patients at their ease, but understand the importance of focusing on asking what the child is thinking and feeling as well as what their parents or guardians tell me is the case. I push myself to achieve at the highest level and would thrive in a busy, fast-moving environment. I am able to work efficiently but also ask for help when necessary. My goal is to work in an inner-city practice where I can also be involved in the local community as a volunteer, and mentor and support other young people considering medicine as a career.

(500 words)

Residency Personal Statement Example 2: Internal medicine

When we were young, my friend Ella and I dreamed of becoming astronaut-hairdresser-brain surgeon-actresses. Later, this crystallized into a determination to become a doctor. We were fortunate to have families who encouraged us to dream big and believed that there were no limits to what we could achieve. Ella was diagnosed with leukaemia the week after her thirteenth birthday and as we cried, I told her, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be a doctor one day and I can fix you’. Her doctors were inspiring in their kindness, dedication and care and Ella was given a second chance at life, while I learned through many hours visiting her in the hospital that there are no hero doctors, only outstanding teams. An internal medicine residency at Hope Hospital would give me the opportunity to join just such a team.

Since studying pre-medicine at Kansas State and starting my medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, I have been determined to complete a residency in internal medicine ahead of pursuing a fellowship in medical oncology. During my radiation oncology rotation, I met with patients and conducted physical exams, observed radiation therapy and attended multidisciplinary tumor boards. Working with radiation therapists, specialist nurses and physicists, my final presentation was on a 50-year-old female patient with inflammatory breast cancer, receiving radiation therapy following chemotherapy and a mastectomy, who needed extra emotional and counselling support as she was bipolar and so struggled with multiple hospital appointments. Everything I learned about pathology reinforced the importance of collaboration and evidence-based decision-making across all internal medicine disciplines.

This spirit of collaboration was fully present when I worked with paramedics during a volunteer trip to Malawi and saw their indomitable spirit and optimism in the face of overwhelming community challenges. Taking time to reassure a frightened patient that may not have ever been in a hospital before is as important in a Malawian field clinic as on a children’s ward in the USA. I helped triage patients at a small rural community clinic and benefited from the incredible depth of knowledge of the local doctors who made sure that treatment was not just appropriate for the presenting condition but matched the patients’ cultural and local situations also.

In a relatively simple case, I prescribed a young female patient amoxicillin to take three times a day with food. Her mother, who had brought her on a bus from their village several hours away for treatment, looked worried when I gave her the box of pills and said goodbye. The doctor called the mother back, asked her some questions in an undertone and gave her a small carrier bag full of individually wrapped biscuits. The mother looked instantly relieved, thanked us both again and left with her daughter. The doctor said calmly, ‘That family only eat once a day. She needs a biscuit with the other two pills or she’ll develop stomach problems.’ It was a lesson I will never forget, emphasizing the importance of getting to know a patient’s situation to make sure that they have the resources and ability to correctly follow a course of treatment that is optimal for them.

Following my return to the USA, I put together a college marathon team and we fundraised over $40,000 to support the Star Children’s Foundation, which works on projects to improve medical care in rural areas in Malawi. I hope to go back there in the future and see the progress made first-hand, possibly contributing to advanced training myself when I have learned enough through an internal medicine residency at Hope Hospital to be useful!

(600 words)

I have long had an interest in better understanding psychopathologies and wish to pursue a psychiatry residency at Excellent Hospital after graduating from Columbia University Medical School. It has been fascinating to see the societal change in terms of acknowledging and talking about mental and social issues such as depression and anxiety as well as the contribution and importance of inclusion of neurodivergent people in our communities. As a future psychiatrist, I am committed to treating every patient with respect and dignity, ensuring I am treating the person rather than focusing only on the diagnosis.

My psychiatry rotation during medical school was an enriching experience and I became confident in taking patients’ psychiatric history and conducting mental status exams. My ability to build rapport with patients and question them directly but respectfully improved over the six weeks and I look forward to focusing more on these skills as I gain a deeper understanding of effective psychiatric care.

Last year I volunteered with a charity supporting mental health and neurodivergence awareness in Hanoi, Viet Nam, as I feel a deep connection with that country, thanks to having Vietnamese-American relatives. I learned that very few psychologists and even fewer clinical psychiatrists can prescribe medication and treatment. As increasing numbers of teenagers and adults as well as younger children are being diagnosed with ADHD, as in the US, there are often long waiting times, and challenges in accessing medication. There is much work to be done on the use of nonstimulants to treat ADHD where stimulants such as amphetamines are ineffective and I completed my final research paper on this topic.

In Viet Nam, it was interesting to me to encounter some of the same prejudices as my older sister encountered from relatives and her primary care doctor, who insisted that my sister could not have ADHD because she is a well-paid, successful accountant. The struggle to balance and often hide symptoms of her condition has left my sister battling anxiety and depression and I am particularly interested in developments in treating ADHD in combination with depression, severe anxiety and other psychiatric conditions.

Following my residency, my goal is to qualify as a psychologist and practice locally while offering continuing support to the team in Hanoi. I am determined to become an outstanding psychiatrist, enhancing my patients’ emotional well-being while supporting them as individuals with the best and most professional care.

(400 words)

8 Tips on how to write a Personal Statement for Residency?

1. include details about your past experiences and accomplishments..

  • Identify the qualities and traits you want to show off – for example, compassion, empathy, or hard work.
  • Think about real incidents where you have demonstrated these qualities and describe them in detail in your application essay. You need to use specific examples that illustrate how you have grown over time and what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Include any unique personal or professional achievements that aren’t listed on your CV in order to highlight why they are special and worthy of note in this particular application process/program/position you are applying for One of our students did volunteer work at a community clinic while still in high school as part of a state-wide program – it turned out, the director of the program was on the residency selection board! It’s always worth carefully checking as much information as possible about the residencies you are applying to.
  • Make sure all of the statements are relevant to the position for which you’re applying, so if you are applying for a dentistry residency program then focus on dentistry experiences.

2. Explain why you want to pursue a particular specialty.

  • Make sure your application shows your interest in the field by highlighting any experience or exposure you’ve had with it.
  • Use clear, precise language and focus on your reasons and motivation – there are 500-800 words allowed in most applications.
  • Make sure to use program-specific terms like “residency” or “fellowship” when referring to programs in order to show that you pay attention to detail; also use the specific program name.
  • Be specific when describing what you enjoy about the diagnoses or pathologies involved in the field, as well as with patients or settings in which you will practice it!
  • Include details about the classes, rotations, and volunteer work that you have done.
  • Identify the specialty(ies) that interest you and highlight the things you have done in your career to explore it.

3. Talk about any skills you have that will help you succeed in the residency program.

Remember that your statement needs to say clearly what draws you to medicine and your specialty so mention:

  • The desirable qualities, attributes, and skill sets that make you well-suited to a residency program will help you succeed.
  • Your long-term plans as a practising physician after completing your residency (e.g., what you hope to accomplish in your residency setting).
  • Excellent IT skills, the ability to use a particularly challenging piece of software or equipment if relevant.

4. Explain any obstacles that you have overcome.

  • Identify any obstacles that you have overcome in your life, such as a difficult background, mental health challenges, or an illness.
  • Explain the obstacle briefly and provide any relevant background information needed to understand it better.
  • Say how you dealt with this obstacle.
  • Make it clear that despite facing hardship, you took action to move forward in a positive manner and are now stronger as a result.
  • Make sure that you focus on highlighting how this experience has made you more likely to succeed as a medical professional.

5. Make sure that your statement is well-written and easy to read.

  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon – make it easy for your readers.
  • Avoid informal, casual writing – Make sure your personal statement is free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Avoid controversial topics like ethical issues, religion, and politics – Don’t make polarizing or potentially offensive statements when you don’t know who will be reading your statement.
  • Focus on why you have chosen this particular residency. Make sure they will clearly understand your motivation.

6. Add relevant information, such as a learning disability or foreign language proficiency.

  • Mention these in your personal statement with a brief explanation and a focus on how it makes you a better candidate.

7. Make sure that your statement is consistent with the rest of your application.

  • Your statement needs to be consistent with the rest of your application by making sure it reflects who you are as a person and includes relevant experiences/facts that show how you will be successful in the program you’re applying for.
  • Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors; read it over several times before submitting it to make sure everything sounds good together.

8. Have someone review your statement for accuracy and clarity.

  • Choose a trusted peer, teacher, specialty advisor, or admissions counsellor to review your statement for accuracy and clarity.
  • Ask them to read your essay aloud and provide feedback on typos or pacing issues.
  • Ask them if they have a good sense of who you are and why you want to pursue this specialty after reading the essay; if not, revise until it meets their expectations of accuracy and clarity.

Some of these questions were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version

What is the best length for a residency personal statement?

The best length for a residency personal statement is one page, which is equivalent to 750-800 words. This meets the academic law and is as allotted by the Electronic Residency Application Systems (ERAS).

Carefully check the word limit for your application as they vary.

What kind of content should be included in a residency personal statement?

It is important to include content that reflects on your strengths, experiences, and reasons for applying to a particular program, as the examples above show.

Ask yourself the following questions and make sure you include the answers in your statement:

  • What draws you to medicine/your specialty?
  • What are your qualities, attributes, and skill sets that make you well-suited to a residency program? What will help you succeed in it?
  • Your long-term plans as a practising physician after completing your residency program – where do you want to work and in which field?
  • What attracts you to a particular residency program (e.g., city or location)? How it would make you a good fit for the team/program setting?
  • Any experience working in the city or program being applied for or with the leaders of that program in previous roles.

What is the best structure for a residency personal statement?

  • Start off with an introduction that briefly describes who you are and why you are applying for the residency program. You can write about personal experiences that have shaped who you are as a physician or other related experiences to make them better connect to your story.
  • Provide details about your academic achievements, medical experience and volunteer roles to show your strengths as a candidate for the residency program.
  • End with a conclusion summarizing what makes you an ideal candidate and why it is the right fit for you.

How can I edit my residency personal statement?

  • Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to write multiple drafts and for others to review your personal statement.
  • Create bullet points: Write down all the ideas and topics you want to include in your personal statement without making them into full sentences at first.
  • Write your first draft: Expand on the points you chose from step 2, but don’t worry if the language isn’t perfect yet since this is still far away from your final draft.
  • Go onto the second draft: Give it a few days/weeks before transitioning into this stage so that ideas can settle in mind and focus on those that best convey the story being told in your personal statement (e.g introduction & ending).
  • Send out for feedback: Send it out to friends/experienced people who know how to edit personal statements for feedback (do not send it out randomly). If need help with editing services, check out our website re-write & structural editing service which offers professional guidance at affordable prices!
  • Revise after receiving feedback: Make sure changes reflect points you are hoping to convey in the final version of your personal statement after receiving feedback from an experienced person who knows how the residency match process works!

How can I make sure my residency personal statement is error-free?

  • Understand the purpose of a personal statement: A personal statement is used by applicants to showcase their strengths and why they are a good fit for the residency program they are applying for.
  • Identify the weaknesses in your current statement: Take time to review your personal statement and look for any mistakes or areas that could be improved upon. Try to be as objective as possible when doing this review so you can spot any issues easily.
  • Get feedback on your work: Once you have identified any weak points in your personal statement, seek out feedback from others who have experience writing them or who can provide an objective view on what needs improvement in yours specifically.
  • Revise based on feedback received. Leave it for 24 hours then re-read it for a final time with a fresh eye.
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