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.