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18.1.08

Personal Statement Tips

The most important thing that we have to do in August is preparing our Personal Statement. It is an indispensable part of the ERAS application. An impressive PS can fetch you interviews by itself. Also when you go for the interview, make sure you go through your PS as sometimes the questions asked are based on your PS. So when you prepare the PS you should keep in mind that you might be questioned on what you write.
Different people give different suggestions when it comes to PS.
One of my friends emailed me these tips for preparing the PS. I really dont know the actual source. If any of you know the source, please leave me a comment. Then, I can give a link to the actual source.

The personal statement can be no longer than one
typed paged on the ERAS
system. This usually corresponds to a document
between 750 and 850 words.
Ensure that your statement fits in the ERAS allotted
space, because the
program will eliminate all lines that exceed its
length restrictions.

A) You actually have to provide your application
reviewers with valuable
information. If you discuss nothing else, the
following three topics must be
addressed in your statement.
1. Why are you interested in the field of your
choice?
2. What are you looking for in a residency program?
3. How the field aligns with your professional
goals?

B) Originality and creativity do not hold the same
importance .. Once again,
your application reviewers will be reading several
hundreds of applications;
so you will need to present an attention-grabbing
statement. However, the
fluffiness and individuality so valued in MSPSs are
secondary to addressing
the three themes I mentioned in section A. While
discussing your personal
development always distinguishes you, you should
focus such development in
the context of your decision to pursue a chosen
medical field.

C) Advisors in the specific field(s) of your choice
are essential to
determining the appropriate themes of your personal
statement. Unlike your
MSPS, in which an individualized, focused essay
providing some sort of
self-profile serves as the desired prototype, each
specialty and
subspecialty has certain types of individuals for
which they are searching.
For instance, many primary care fields place a huge
emphasis on your
community service involvement whereas more
competitive specialties such as
dermatology and orthopedic surgery seem to be more
concerned with research
endeavors and publications in their field. You
should identify both a
resident, who has just gone through the application
process, and an
attending physician, who is well-versed in the
nuances of your desired
specialty, to serve as advisors regarding the
content of your personal
statement.

General “Do’s”

1. Unite your essay with a central theme. If
possible paint multiple
pictures of your medical school development around
this theme, and link it
to your field of choice.
2. Unless you pursued another degree or participated
in some significant
research or community service project during your
preclinical years, most of
the content of your statement should address your
clinical development
during clerkships. Most residency programs express
minimal concern for your
preclinical performance, presuming that you suffered
no academic failures or
setbacks. If your institution has grades, your
transcript will speak for
your preclinical performance. The only information
that you should address
during your preclinical years of medical school
should be related to
obtaining other degrees or discussing significant
volunteer or research
endeavors. You should be able to relate the latter
to your current interest
to pursue the field of your choice.
3. Use interesting or unique background experiences
to complement your
personal statement. This will be your “anti-clone”
factor that distinguishes
you from every other individual applying in your
field. You will need to
ensure that these personal factors, triumphs,
obstacles, or experiences are
clearly relevant to the progression of your essay.
Fluffy and tangential
topics will not be tolerated as well in residency
personal statements as
they were in MSPSs.
4. Utilize the following advice, which applies to
all admissions essays:

* Begin your statement with an
attention-grabbing first paragraph.
* Provide specific narratives or examples in
order to demonstrate any
personal attributes you cultivated or lessons you
learned. Avoid making
statements such as “I am determined and hardworking”
without backing them up
with solid evidence.
* Keep your sentences concise and direct. Many
of the physician
application reviewers are busy people who cannot
decipher advanced literary
writing techniques.
* Link your conclusion back to your
introduction.

General “Don’ts”

1. Your statement should not be an expanded version
of your CV. The ERAS
application allows more than ample space for you to
discuss your paid work
and volunteer experiences, research endeavors and
publications, language
fluency, hobbies and interests, and other awards and
accomplishments. Only
mention relevant endeavors or poignant experiences.
2. You should avoid including any information in
your essay that you could
not discuss for at least an hour or that may be
contradicted by other
written evidence. Though this may seem facetious,
some applicants will
exaggerate their role in particular research
projects or community service
activities, but be unable to discuss them thoroughly
in interviews. This can
prove to be extremely detrimental to your candidacy.
Also, some applicants
have written things in these statements that
directly contradict information
written by their recommenders. Because waiving your
rights to viewing
letters of recommendation is the norm, you often
will not know what your
letter writers will say about you. Thus, only
truthful information should
appear in your statement.
3. Your essay should avoid the following common
indicators of poorly written
or edited documents:

* Lack of flow
* Spelling and grammatical errors
* Clich├ęs
* Redundant or extraneous words

SUMMARY

Overall, the most important advice to remember when crafting your personal statement is to provide yourself with plenty of time to write it. Two or three months prior to the date you wish to submit your final applications should prove sufficient. While respecting the different perspectives of each individual you wish to comment on your drafts, you should limit your statement to only a few individuals, making sure that one or two physicians in your desired field are among them. Also, do not be afraid to scrap one draft completely, and start another thought from scratch. Finally, be true to yourself in this essay. This is your once chance to show the unique side of yourself. Do not overdo it, but do not fail to do it. Good luck with your application process.

Here I give links to some of the PS tips mentioned in the internet. I will keep updating the list as and when I come across any useful stuff regarding PS.
University of Illinois at Chicago Personal Statement tips and samples:
This site also gives a lot of other information regarding CV preparation,etc.

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