Personal Statements

Department of Student Affairs

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:

  1. Help pull you out of the crowd of applicants – be sure to include unique experiences, background, and information.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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
  • languages
  • organization
  • teaching
  • 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.

Online Resources