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Residency Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide (Example Included)

A step-by-step medical residency personal statement guide to help you match into your dream program.

A medical school student wearing a white coat and working on her residency personal statement at a computer

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: brainstorming topics for your personal statement, part 3: how to write an amazing residency personal statement, part 4: in-depth analysis of a full-length personal statement example, appendix: frequently asked questions.

Applying to medical residency programs isn’t exactly easy. After four years of medical school, and years more spent before that preparing for medical school, you’re probably ready for a breather. But residency applications hit you with everything from USMLE scores to Medical School Performance Evaluations (MSPEs). The uncertainty leading up to match day can be stressful and anxiety inducing—will your near-decade of work pay off?

Thankfully, the residency application process is fairly transparent—we know what the most important aspects of the residency application are. Every two years, the NRMP’s Program Director Survey reveals which factors are cited as the most crucial components of your residency application and are thus the core deciders for whether or not you’ll get an interview. Though the exact ranking varies from year to year and according to specialty, typically you’ll find USMLE scores, letters of recommendation from physicians in your targeted specialty, and MSPEs hovering at the top.

But these materials may not express what drew you to the specialty in question or what got you into medicine in general. And though it can seem as if programs are overwhelmingly interested in your scores and evaluations, they are also interested in the person behind the grades.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the factor that was fourth-most cited by program directors on the NRMP’s 2020 survey: the residency personal statement.

Before we get into the step-by-step guide, we’ll offer some general framing thoughts. Being able to communicate your motivations and personality through your application, especially your personal statement, bodes well for your ability to bring that same enthusiasm and drive as a resident and in the rest of your career as a physician, so take note. 

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Why does the residency personal statement matter?

The personal statement is an essay of about a page (one page in ERAS is 3,500 characters including spaces) in which you articulate who you are and why you want to enter a certain specialty. It’s your big opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants by highlighting anything that isn’t well represented in other parts of your application but that nevertheless contextualizes your CV and accomplishments. This context could include interesting life experiences and motivations for pursuing a given specialty. 

There’s a good reason the personal statement is relevant for program directors. Because so much of the information that programs have to determine whether you’ll be a good fit is quantitative in nature, it’s likely that programs will receive many applicants who have similarly competitive scores and grades. What can serve as a tiebreaker?

Letters of recommendation offer qualitative information. But the personal statement is the main opportunity for you to directly make a case for yourself, on qualitative terms, before you attend residency interviews .

The personal statement can also weed out applicants who don’t demonstrate an adequate understanding of their specialty of interest or who come across as pretentious and pompous. For this reason, in addition to the basic requirements of proper grammar and spelling, you’ll need to strike the right tone with your essay: seeming aware of your motivations and accomplishments to date, passionate about what you hope to achieve in the specialty, and also humble.

Remember: a great personal statement cannot save an otherwise weak application, but a poor one could hurt an otherwise strong application.

What should the personal statement accomplish?

The residency personal statement should include and reflect:

What draws you to the specialty

The skills or qualities that will help you succeed during the residency and as a practicing physician

Your long-term plans, what you hope to accomplish, and your preferred setting

Personal attributes that make you well-suited to the specialty and training

What attracts you to a particular program (if you’re applying for a specific program outside of the national matching system or if you customize a personal statement within NRMP) 

Ultimately, the combination of these elements will give program directors a sense of the kind of colleague you would be and how you would fit into their program.

Meet our students

Throughout this post, we’ll provide examples from students who have gone through this process so you can see their writing in action.

Roger: Roger immigrated from Mexico as a teen and attends a medical school in a rural area. His path to medicine wasn’t straightforward. After graduating from high school, he worked for several years in construction, quickly climbing the ranks to become project manager for a small roofing firm before deciding to go back to school. He hopes to specialize in dermatology because, after growing up in poverty and performing blue-collar work for years, he wants a comfortable life that will allow him to focus on his growing family. 

Mohana: Mohana entered medical school believing her path was pediatrics. But after an away rotation in radiology, she’s leaning toward radiology, having become attracted to the more technical aspects of the field and its work-life balance. After years of schooling, Mohana mostly wants time for her musical hobbies.

Cynthia: Cynthia either wants to work at a research hospital or practice gynecology. She thinks she could be happy with either, but knows she’d be happiest if she could do both. She also received an MPH before attending medical school. Cynthia still has a taste for social justice, but it isn’t always evident on her CV.

Kazuo: Kazuo initially wanted to pursue thoracic surgery, but after spending time with surgeons, he decided the culture was not for him. Now he’s certain he wants to pursue anesthesiology, and isn’t entirely sure how to convey his interest. He is worried this change of heart may hurt his chances of matching into his top programs.

Brainstorming topics

Before you begin writing, set aside time to brainstorm. Whether you have an idea in your head or are struggling with where to start, freeform thinking can expand your options, call to mind experiences you hadn’t considered, or even help you pick unique interests you otherwise might have left out.

If you’re uncertain of how to proceed, jot down your answers to the following questions:

What first drew you to medicine?

Was there an experience, clinical or otherwise, that had a significant impact on you? What was it and why is it meaningful?

When did you know you wanted to pursue the specialty in question? What attracted you to the specialty?

What are your greatest qualities? When have you demonstrated these qualities?

Where do you see yourself 20 years into your career as a physician?

What’s an important part of who you are that isn’t on your resume?

Who are your role models and why?

What are your most meaningful extracurricular activities? Why?

What’s an accomplishment you are most proud of?

What was your most enlightening moment?

What medical cause do you care about most, and how did you come to care about it?

These are just a few questions to get started. Add more as they occur to you.

Another way to approach the personal statement is to ask what qualities make a good physician in your target specialty and consider how you embody those qualities. For example, here are a few qualities that might represent pediatric neurology: 

Strong communication or interpersonal skills


Technologically inclined

Passion for advocacy


After brainstorming, take anywhere from a few hours to a day or a week to step away from your notes. This will help you as you move onto the next step: focusing your ideas.

Focusing your ideas

Here are some sample topics our residency applicants came up with:

An accidental run-in with poison ivy

Advocating for his Spanish-speaking roofing clients

Adjusting to the U.S. after immigrating from a small town in Mexico

Teaching herself MaxMSP programming skills

Babysitting her nieces and nephews

Her away rotation in radiology

Giving sex-ed talks in local middle schools

Being a surrogate daughter for her next-door neighbor, Leticia

Presenting her research findings at conferences


His ten-year meditation practice

His experience in surgery rotation

Admiration for his father, who taught him darkroom photography

Once you’ve generated your list of ideas, consider how they do or do not compellingly answer the following questions:

Why this specialty?

Before writing your personal statement, you should be very clear, personally, on why the specialty you’ve chosen is the right one for you.

Program directors want to know that you have a realistic idea of what your specialty will entail. For instance, you might be interested in plastic surgery because it’s a highly paid field but fail to understand the importance of artistic anatomy in its practice. If your application fails to convey compelling reasons for pursuing a specialty beyond high salaries or the potential lifestyle benefits associated with it (especially true for specialties like radiology and dermatology), it may cost you an interview invitation.

(Suggested reading: The Most Competitive Medical Residencies: A Complete List )

What strengths do I have that are not apparent in my other application materials?

Though your recommenders may offer a sense of your personality and interests, you are in the best position to include meaningful details that can’t be found on a CV. What aspects of your life do you think might compel a selection committee to pick you over other applicants? What makes you unique?

How do I embody the qualities of a good physician in the specialty?

This is slightly different from understanding the realistic requirements of a given specialty. Instead, it joins the strengths of your full life to the characteristics of an exemplary practitioner in your field of choice. 

For instance, an anesthesiologist who performs their role well may go unnoticed by a patient, whereas a pediatrician who is too technically inclined may come across as cold or uncaring. The decisiveness of a surgeon in the OR is distinct from a psychiatrist adjusting a patient’s depression medication through trial and error over time. Make sure that the details you select speak to the qualities of your chosen specialty.

Let’s look at how our students applied these principles.

With two young children and another on the way, Roger wants good work hours and enough money to give his children a high quality of life. He’d never thought much about dermatology until he had accidental contact with poison ivy and took an elective in the specialty. Also, Roger hopes to practice in a rural setting because the low cost of living would facilitate his family-oriented lifestyle, but he knows he must communicate a more selfless reason in his personal statement. Roger’s approach will combine seemingly unlike things (roofing, dermatology, advocacy for rural patients) into one cohesive portrait of who he is and what matters to him.

Mohana doesn’t list her hobby on her resume, so writing about it for her personal statement will illuminate a side of her that neither quantitative scores nor letters of recommendation can comment on. Programming beats is Mohana’s passion, and she wants to show off how her technical prowess can serve her in the field of radiology.

But what to make of her experience babysitting her nieces and nephews? For Mohana, childcare helped her learn that she was particularly adept at soothing children in unfamiliar situations. It isn’t her strongest idea because she’s primarily interested in diagnostic radiology but including it may convey to program directors that she understands that radiology remains as patient-centered as any other medical discipline. 

So far, Roger and Mohana are using their experiences to tell a story, not just enumerate things they’ve done. At the end of the day, great personal statements tell stories—about you, your journey, and why you’re right for a given specialty. If your idea is a topic without a story, it’s not worth mentioning.

Questions to determine if an idea can be a story:

Can you reference a specific anecdote (a day, a summer, an interaction)? Can you include significant details that convey the specificity of what you experienced?

Is yours a story no one else could tell? You want a story that, even if someone had the same jobs, schools, or extracurricular activities as you, they would not be able to write in the same way.

Does the narrative have an arc? Do you demonstrate growth and insight over a period of time?

Is the voice of the essay yours? Is the language lively?

Regardless of the idea, you should be able to answer yes to at least one of these questions.

To that end, while Cynthia felt that her positive experiences presenting her research at conferences best expressed her passion for research, this information was readily available on her resume and could be a sentence in her personal statement, not an entire framing narrative.

On the other hand, Cynthia’s experience serving as a “surrogate” child for her neighbor, Leticia, could be used to encompass her interests in reproductive health, patient advocacy, and gynecology. Leticia, an elderly woman who had never had children of her own, was sterilized without her consent while receiving an appendectomy as a teenager in the 1960s. The injustice of this fueled Cynthia throughout her medical education.

Similarly, Kazuo thought his experience in the operating room was a natural place to begin: it was where he discovered he did not want to be a thoracic surgeon after all, but an anesthesiologist. But to convey a greater sense of his levelheadedness and exactitude, he chose to also talk about his role model—his photographer father—and the lessons learned in darkrooms and meditation, neither of which could readily be written about by another applicant.

Start with an outline

With so many great ideas and a narrative in mind, you might be tempted to start writing your essay now. But an outline will keep your ideas organized and help you write more efficiently. Even if you don’t start draft one with an outline and instead just “vomit draft,” consider making draft two a reverse outline so that at some point you have structure guiding you.

Here’s one path to follow:

First paragraph: Lead with detail

The residency personal statement is short—under 3,500 characters—and this brevity creates constraints. While an opening anecdote is a good approach to hook readers, you may choose to describe a situation or an experience more generally to accommodate the brevity.

Both options are possible, but what you choose depends on the anecdote in question and what you hope to accomplish over the course of the statement. The point is to pin your unique story to your interest in medicine by the end of the first paragraph if you can, but at the very least by the end of the second paragraph.

How do you choose your opening story? One way is to check against the questions above: Can you remember specific details? Is it something only you could write? Is there an arc or will there be one over a few paragraphs, even the whole essay?

Kazuo has a specific anecdote in mind for his hook: the first day of his surgery rotation. As you’ll see, the essay passes the specificity test by the strength of its details—an ovary riddled with cysts, the bright OR light, the origins of Kazuo’s surgical interest, the introduction of the father as a character—and sets Kazuo up to discuss how he came to be interested in anesthesiology. 

One of the most powerful moments in my medical education occurred during an oophorectomy. As Dr. Srivastava removed a cyst-riddled ovary, I noted that his calm was contagious; I felt focused but at ease. The surgery finished without a hitch. In fact, it was anticlimactic, even unremarkable. Having dreamed of becoming a surgeon since age 16, when my father had to undergo emergency surgery after a heart attack, it was a let-down. But my photographer father’s words on darkroom printing—“Look at the shadows, and they will guide you”—made me reconsider. When I looked away from the bright overhead light, I saw the reason for our calm: our anesthesiologist, Dr. Grant, had been silently watching the whole time, making sure the infusion was working as planned. 

Roger, on the other hand, describes a situation that conveys the roots of his advocacy.

 As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hailstorms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, timeworn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, which drew me to medicine. 

By distilling the career wisdom of years into one crystal clear statement about the relationship between allyship and medicine, Roger is anticipating an arc he will develop across the length of the essay while setting himself apart from his more traditional colleagues.

Body paragraphs: Connect your narrative to a thesis

Roger has, by the end of the first paragraph, indicated what drew him to medicine in the first place. This is a good approach, and a model that works for articulating the thesis for the specialty as well. 

Mohana gives her thesis in her second paragraph. Her opening anecdote was about how playing her first MaxMSP composition for friends was the culmination of hours of online tutorials and technical discussions on programming forums.

She describes the elation she felt at seeing her creation come to life for others and the satisfaction she received from sharing a common language with those who like learning through doing. This anecdote conveys something about Mohana’s personal qualities but doesn’t mention medicine at all. 

That’s where her second paragraph comes in. 

My passion for making music machines and my interest in radiology are fraternal twins. I want to be a radiologist because it would put my analytic skills to use just as trouble-shooting atonal compositions compelled me to search for answers. As someone who enjoys collaboratively finding creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems, I am especially suited to being a “doctor’s doctor”—a radiologist. I love talking shop with knowledgeable colleagues. Establishing a common diagnostic vocabulary with fellow clinicians intrigues me most of all. In fact, my radiology rotation felt like a real-life MaxMSP forum except that, instead of collectively developing an audio patch, we jointly scrutinized sagittal reconstructions for complex fractures.

Connect the personal to the professional

Having described the impact of growing up next door to Leticia, Cynthia connects that personal story to how she envisions moving forward in her professional life in her third paragraph. She also takes the opportunity to make a case for both research and clinical practice, giving herself a flexible statement that could suit a variety of program environments.

As I researched sources of misdiagnosis among OB/GYNs, particularly pertaining to endometriosis and hormonal disorders, I was driven by memories of Leticia. She once described how it took her ten years after her forced sterilization to understand the female reproductive system enough to comprehend what had been taken from her. As an OB/GYN, I would make sure no patient left my examination room without a clear understanding of her reproductive health. Moreover, the sex-ed I do in Baltimore middle schools has inspired me to share my research findings through outreach. Over time, my clinical and research experiences will give me the authority to advocate for reproductive health education reform. It is my ultimate goal to ensure that no young woman suffer as Leticia did. 

Demonstrate change and growth over time

One way to keep a personal statement reader engaged is by using the tried and true storytelling methods of conflict and resolution. Put another way, things have to happen—specifically, they have to change.

Body paragraphs are the perfect place to develop these transformations. What events incited your growth? How are these shifts related to your interest in pursuing a specialty or the kind of practitioner you will be?

Kazuo, for example, reckoned with the realization that surgery proper was not for him. But rather than consider this a failure of direction on his part, Kazuo uses this to his advantage, spinning it as a successful reorientation that more closely aligned with his experiences and values.

I was excited to alternate between preoperative procedures and pain management in the anesthesiology rotation. Some tasks felt familiar; assisting the attending in diluting medications called to mind the exact ratios I once mixed for my father’s developer and fixer so that his prints expressed the full gradient between black and white. Other tasks, like induction and the occasional corrections required for maintenance, were foreign. But the beeping monitors and visual cues entered my mind like the thoughts I’ve aimed to consider without fear or anxiety in my ten years of meditating. By honing my attention in darkrooms and in silent morning meditations, I’ve become attuned to others, often anticipating the needs of recovering patients before they can articulate these themselves. My anesthesiology rotation helped me understand that behind every unremarkable surgery was a great deal of foresight and diligence. These are the qualities I enjoy exercising most.   

Notice how Kazuo includes personal biographical details and establishes their relevance to anesthesiology. Interests aren’t mentioned just for the sake of mentioning them. They have been selected because they illuminate some aspect of Kazuo, whether it’s his longtime—and personally meaningful—interest in mixing solutions or his mindfulness. 

More importantly, however, is that these align with the qualities of a good anesthesiologist. For Kazuo, an anesthesiologist should not merely be reactive, but proactive, “anticipating the needs of recovering patients before they can articulate these themselves.” By the last line, Kazuo’s body paragraph is in conversation with his opening anecdote. In fact, Kazuo has demonstrated a transformation from the naïve student in the surgery rotation to the attentive, proactive, and self-aware anesthesiologist-to-be.

Communicate the kind of specialist you hope to be

Kazuo wants to exercise his foresight, diligence, and calm. Mohana wants to be a “doctor’s doctor.” Here are how Cynthia and Roger express the qualities they would like to respectively embody. 

I want to take the expertise I gain in my OB/GYN practice and reproductive health research and apply it in policy.  

Short, sweet, and to the point. Roger chooses to convey his ultimate goals in his conclusion, which can also be an acceptable approach if your essay’s structure invites it.

I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care.

In one sentence, Roger synthesizes the different facets of his interest in dermatology and returns to the advocacy he first mentioned in his intro paragraph.

Conclusion: Tie it all together

Your concluding paragraph should leave selection committees with an understanding of who you are and why you’re applying. There are several ways to think about an ending to successfully avoid falling victim to clichés:

Don’t pre-write your ending. Some people have deeply ingrained ideas of what an essay’s conclusion should accomplish and can even write with a conclusion already in mind. However, it’s best to let a conclusion naturally respond to the elements in the essay, so don’t force it.

Avoid declarative sentences. Program directors see it all the time: “And that’s what would make me a great oncologist” or “I would bring these skills to your program.” Don’t let their eyes glaze over. Write something more unique.  

Consider ending on an image or with a callback to where you began the essay. This is one of the most organic and satisfying ways to conclude any piece of writing. Mohana’s essay, for instance, opens with playing her music for others. She closes with the following.

There is a joy in finding your tribe. I’m lucky to have several. The wider world of musical programmers is my creative community and the radiology team at Beth Israel Deaconess is an example of my ideal medical community. Whether creating a neural network for note generation or exploring new possibilities for interventional radiology, I know my fascination with innovation, technique, and diagnosis will help me find harmony between invention and the tried-and-true backbone of medicine–excellent patient care. People-centered radiology–that’s music to my ears.  

After you’ve finished the first draft of your residency personal statement

First, celebrate! Writing is hard no matter what, and the fact that you’ve accomplished anything with language is no small feat. But you’re just getting started. Settle in for some revisions:

Read your essay aloud. This will alert you to typos, problems of pacing, and issues of form that you might otherwise miss. Reading aloud also helps you get a sense for your essay’s voice—it should sound like you when read aloud.

Ask for feedback . You should have a trusted peer, professor, specialty advisor, or admissions counselor read your essay. The core question to ask them is, “Do you have a good sense of who I am and why I want to pursue this specialty after reading this?” If the answer is no, revise, revise, revise.

For big changes, don’t edit—rewrite. It can be a pain to invest so much time into a draft only to scrap it, but if you decide on structural revisions or major changes in content, start with a new document. Starting anew may give you a more cohesive and coherent final product. This doesn’t mean all your hard work was in vain. Print out a hard copy of your original, keep it on the table beside you, and open a clean doc. Drawing from your previous draft for your revision will ensure you have one essay at the end, not two spliced together.  

Before we go into our analysis, consider reading the personal statement example in its entirety. As you go through it, keep the following questions in mind: 

Does Roger demonstrate an understanding of his specialty of interest, including the kind of qualities an exemplary resident in the specialty must possess? If so, which ones?

Does Roger tell a story about how his interest developed? How does Roger demonstrate growth and change?

Could anyone have written this statement, or is it unique to Roger?

After reading the statement, do you have a good sense of who Roger is and why he wants to pursue dermatology? 

Let’s look at the dermatology statement Roger produced based on the process we described.

As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hailstorms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, timeworn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, which drew me to medicine. 

In medical school, I serendipitously found the specialty within which I wanted to apply this passion after accidentally dumping a bag of mulched poison ivy on my head. The resulting rash was painful but interesting and sparked a curiosity in cutaneous manifestations of disease that later led me to a dermatology elective. There, I was impressed by the dermatologist’s keen eye for detail, and I found the diagnostic challenge and the detail-driven expertise to be both fascinating and rewarding.  

Each new rash I saw was reminiscent of inspecting leaky roofs and I wanted to emulate my new mentors, who had developed the ability to diagnose and treat skin disease based on the subtle cues they saw. Such was the case when a grizzled farmer from a distant rural community with infrequent follow-up ascribed a sore on his arm to a specific trauma. Despite this history, the dermatologist recognized some subtle and suspicious features, prompting a biopsy that later showed invasive squamous cell carcinoma. In addition to the dermatologist’s diagnostic acumen, it was her relationship with the patient and her understanding of his community, values, and risk factors that allowed her to guide this patient to a better outcome.

In medical school I have enjoyed caring for those who, for cultural, insurance, or geographic reasons, have difficultly receiving care. After one shift in my inpatient pediatrics rotation, I brought my guitar to play for a Latino boy who was dying from leukemia and made his parents my favorite recipe for chile verde with pork. Although I couldn’t offer any more to them medically, I hoped to aid the fear and disconnection they had expressed with the unfamiliar environment now surrounding them. The connection made in that moment helped ease their suffering and fostered a better union between the treatment team and patient.

Multiple studies have suggested that outcomes for dermatologic conditions tend to be poorer in certain demographics. As part of my own research, I have begun investigating these disparities. This has included a research project where we evaluated the effects of social and demographic factors on melanoma outcomes. One finding that spoke to me was that outcomes tended to be poorer in areas with fewer dermatologists. Having grown up in a small town and having completed medical school in a more rural area, I feel a special connection to these communities. I hope to continue to engage in research that better elucidates these disparities to supply better care to these populations.

In my career I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care. Training at your program would enable me to meet these goals and effectively treat and advocate for these patients. 

(Word count: 563; Character count: 3,498)

Residency personal statement analysis  

Let’s analyze the entire personal statement section by section and answer the questions posed above.


As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hail storms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, time-worn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, that drew me to medicine.

Roger leads with details like “roofs leaky from hail storms” and “time-worn signs of hail damage” that make his previous career in construction vivid in the reader’s mind. The specificity also ensures that only Roger could write an introduction like this. He indicates the hundreds of hours he spent learning to examine subtle signs of roof damage in a manner that suggests, without stating it outright, both the kind of learner Roger would be as a dermatology resident and the transferable qualities he gained from his work and life experiences.

The last line of the paragraph, which helps anchor the reader in Roger’s motivations from the beginning, describes how Roger’s interest came to be. This thesis makes it much easier to navigate the essay and helps Roger compellingly articulate who he is and why he has chosen to apply for dermatology.

Body section 1: Specialty

In medical school, I serendipitously found the specialty within which I wanted to apply this passion after accidentally dumping a bag of mulched poison ivy on my head. The resulting rash was painful but interesting and sparked a curiosity in cutaneous manifestations of disease that later led me to a dermatology elective. There, I was impressed by the dermatologist’s keen eye for detail, and I found the diagnostic challenge and the detail-driven expertise to be both fascinating and rewarding. 

In this section, Roger emphasizes his interest in dermatology and develops the idea he introduced in his opening paragraph: being attuned to subtle signs of damage. Roger finds kinship in the dermatologist’s “keen eye for detail,” relishes the “diagnostic challenge,” and emphasizes “detail-driven expertise”—all qualities he previously expressed about himself as a roofer and which he is now connecting to dermatology as a field.

In the second specialty paragraph, Roger turns his attention to a mentor to tell a specific anecdote that demonstrates his clear understanding about what dermatology entails. With his point about the visual and attentive elements of dermatology made, Roger transitions to describing the patient relationship toward the end of the second paragraph. The “understanding of his community, values, and risk factors that allowed her to guide this patient to a better outcome” sets Roger up to describe how he shares this awareness as well.

Finally, the specificity of the mulched poison ivy, its resulting rash, and the grizzled rural farmer makes this firmly Roger’s and no one else’s.

Body section 2: Advocacy

In medical school I have enjoyed caring for those who, for cultural, insurance, or geographic reasons, have difficulty receiving care. After one shift in my inpatient pediatrics rotation, I brought my guitar to play for a Latino boy who was dying from leukemia and made his parents my favorite recipe for chile verde with pork. Although I couldn’t offer any more to them medically, I hoped to aid the fear and disconnection they had expressed with the unfamiliar environment now surrounding them. The connection made in that moment helped ease their suffering and fostered a better union between the treatment team and patient. 

In this section, Roger returns to the advocacy he mentioned in his introduction. He keeps it unique by describing a specific interaction with a single family and even mentions his favorite recipe, which gives the body paragraphs a touch of his personality.

The cultural angle helps remind the reader of the ways Roger has been interested in culturally-specific service since his days in roofing, when he advocated on behalf of Spanish-speaking clients. 

Finally, Roger gives context to the research on his CV by showing how his preference for the underserved isn’t merely an ideological commitment. Rather, Roger’s attraction to dermatology dovetails with his passion for connecting with the underserved because his research credentials back it up. Even his upbringing in a different country finds a parallel in the rural environment where he hopes to practice now. The combination of details makes this section uniquely Roger and deepens our sense of who he is.

In my career I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care. Training at your program would enable me to meet these goals and effectively treat and advocate for these patients.

Roger keeps it short, perhaps due to word count. Still, his first line clearly articulates who he is and what draws him to dermatology. Placing this line at the end of the anecdotes and examples Roger used throughout the essay helps the image of him crystallize in the minds of the selection committee. Roger’s last line isn’t our favorite—it’s a little bit common. But the rest of the essay is specific enough that we aren’t hung up on it.

Final thoughts

By reflecting on how your personal attributes and interests inform who you are and who you might be in your chosen specialty, your well-crafted, authentic, and unique personal statement will help you land those coveted residency interviews and, ultimately, match into the residency program of your dreams.

ERAS allows me to use up to 28,000 characters. Do I really need to stick to one page?

Yes. A page is considered standard, and even if you submit more, many program directors may not read past your first page. Thus, keep your statement short and sweet. Remember that one page in ERAS is 3,500 characters including spaces, which equals approximately 550–750 words.

Can I edit my personal statement after uploading it to ERAS?

Yes, ERAS allows you to edit your personal statement at any time during the application season, even if you’ve already assigned it to programs you’re applying to.

Should I address red flags in my personal statement?

It depends on the severity of the red flag. We don’t recommend using your personal statement to explain a situation that’s simply less than ideal, such as a low but passing Step 1 score. However, if you have a serious issue in your candidacy—for instance, you failed the USMLE, you repeated a preclinical year or clerkship, or you have unexplained interruptions in your medical education or career—it’s generally advisable to address it head on in order to demonstrate maturity and honesty. Don’t make excuses; do take ownership of the problem and explain how you’ve learned and grown from your mistakes.

If there is a legal issue in your past, the ERAS application contains legal disclosure fields in which you can discuss the incident. It’s typically not necessary to also address the issue in your personal statement unless it played a formative role in your journey towards your specialty.

The above are our general recommendations; however, given the many nuances and gray areas that tend to accompany red flags, it’s usually a good idea to discuss how to handle them with a trusted advisor in your specialty.

Should I tailor my personal statement to specific residency programs?

Generally speaking, it’s not necessary to tailor your personal statement to each program to which you apply. That said, ERAS does allow you to upload as many personal statements as you wish, so it is possible to send different versions of your personal statement to different programs.

Before you consider doing so, keep in mind that it’s probably not realistic to send a customized personal statement to every program that you’re applying to. Instead, you might do so for, say, your top three programs. Another approach could involve creating two different versions of your personal statement to send out as you choose.

For instance, you might have one version geared towards research-heavy programs and one geared towards community-oriented programs. Or, perhaps a few programs on your list are in your home city and the rest are located elsewhere. You could then create a personal statement for the hometown programs that includes a few sentences reflecting your geographical tie and why it’s important to your medical career (e.g. “ Having grown up in a medically underserved community in Romulus, my lifelong goal has been to improve access to healthcare for the citizens of Wayne County …”).

In any case, you should only tailor your personal statement to reflect genuine, well-founded reasons for your interest in a program. Because tailored personal statements are neither the norm nor the expectation, half-baked attempts to demonstrate fit will be noticeable.

(Note: We should mention that the one situation that always calls for multiple personal statements is if you’re applying to more than one specialty.)

eras personal statement tips

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How to Make a Statement with Your ERAS Personal Statement

  • by Med School Tutors
  • Jun 29, 2023
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal

eras personal statement tips

Dr. Leila Javidi, Taylor Purvis, and Dr. Brian Radvansky contributed to this article.

Starting your residency application can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when it comes to writing your ERAS personal statement. It’s not clear why essays of this nature are so intimidating—maybe it’s because not all medical students are well-versed in language arts, many of us dislike writing, or maybe just the thought of putting “who you are” onto paper brings to the surface some uncomfortable feelings of self-awareness (whoa—this just got intense!).

This is a joke or course, but to be honest, sometimes when we sit down to write our ERAS personal statement we immediately think things like, “I’m not that interesting,” or “I haven’t done anything cool in life, I’ve spent most of my time in school thus far.” And that is completely normal. The majority of us haven’t had those pivotal moments in life that shake the ground beneath us and form a new foundation for who we are, and that’s OK!

Your ERAS personal statement isn’t intended to be a best-selling memoir. It’s intended to add another dimension to the otherwise black-and-white application full of scores and grades. It is an opportunity to show program directors your personality, what motivates you, and what you’re looking for in a residency program.

While you’ve probably heard all of this before, we bet you have more specific questions about how to tackle the ERAS personal statement. All of us sure did! So, without further ado, h ere are answers to the 12 most important questions about medical residency personal statements.

12 Frequently-Asked Questions About the ERAS Personal Statement

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1. How big of a deal is my ERAS personal statement to program directors?

According to the 2020 NRMP program director survey , 78% of program directors cite the ERAS personal statement as an important factor in deciding which candidates to interview,  making it the fourth-highest ranked factor behind USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2, and letters of recommendation. So, it’s pretty important in the grand scheme of your application!

Now, from experience in talking to different program directors and mentors, it’s clear that the most important thing is that your ERAS personal statement is well organized, well written, with proper grammar, no red flags, and that it’s only one page single-spaced. The standard ERAS personal statement length is typically 500-800 words (roughly four paragraphs).

A personal statement typically isn’t the “maker” of your residency application—however, it can be a deal “breaker” if it doesn’t have those attributes. That said, if you have a memorable, well-written personal statement, program directors will mention it, and it will make you stand out as an applicant. If they are on the fence about whether or not to interview you, a personal statement could potentially be the deciding factor. So, it’s pretty important!

2. What are things I should include in my ERAS personal statement?

A good ERAS personal statement should include the following: 

A catchy introduction to grab the reader

There are different ways to go about doing this, but if you’re stuck, an effective way to grab the reader’s attention is to open with a patient vignette. An interesting case is sure to pique the curiosity of your reader and keep them engaged as they read. Preventing boredom is something to strive for, as your application is one of perhaps hundreds that they are reading.

Ultimately, though, remember this is a personal statement. After you reveal the diagnosis or outcome of the patient vignette, you need to let the reader know what the case meant to you! The point of relating the vignette is to reveal something about yourself, not just present an interesting story about a patient. 

An overview of your desirable qualities

When letting the reader know what your positive qualities are, it’s important to remember a basic rule of good writing: SHOW, don’t tell. For example, instead of saying you are compassionate, describe a story from your life that demonstrates your compassion.

Highlights from your life experience 

This includes jobs, extracurricular activities, and hobbies that would help you to be an ideal candidate for whichever residency you are applying to. Pro tip: DON’T REGURGITATE YOUR CV. This is your opportunity to tell people things that aren’t on your CV. Do you play chess in the park every Saturday, or have you traveled to some amazing places? Tell us about it!

You shouldn’t rehash your CV in your personal statement, but it is a great place to elaborate on activities listed on your CV. It can be used to explain why those activities are so important to you, how they have helped you grow as a person, and other things that don’t often shine through on the CV itself.

Proof of why you should be accepted 

The most important part of your statement is providing proof of why you should be accepted. Describe your strengths, but do not talk about things too generally. You should be able to back up everything you say. Give details and examples. Which doctors have you shadowed? What kind of research have you been involved in, and where was it published? Don’t just mention that you have volunteered, say the names of places you were at and what you were doing.

Why you are interested in your specialty

This doesn’t have to be a profound story, but it should be the truth!

What you are looking for in a residency program

Is a strong procedural curriculum important to you? Is the culture of the program more important? Try to mention things you know your programs of choice embody.

Address any red flags on your application

Did you do poorly on Step 1? Did you take a leave of absence for a long time? Best to just come out and talk about it without being defensive. Show how you have grown from the experience, rather than apologizing for it!

A cohesive closing statement

Sometimes the first and the last sentence of the statement are the hardest to come up with, but it’s worth your time to make it tidy, even if it isn’t profound.

3. What are things I shouldn’t include in my ERAS personal statement?

Controversial topics.

Stay away from extreme religious or political statements. It doesn’t mean you can’t say you are an active member of church, but don’t use this as an opportunity to discuss whether or not you are pro-choice. You never know who is going to be reading this, and anything too polarizing can be off-putting for some readers. 

Feelings of bitterness or negativity

Leave out any traces of bitterness, defensiveness, or anger about anything that has happened in your life. Everything must have a positive spin.  

Too much self-praise or too much modesty

Avoid talking about yourself in a glorifying manner, but don’t go too far the other way and come off as too modest.

Too many qualifiers

You don’t want to go overboard with the qualifiers, which are words such as “really,” “quite,” “very,” etc. In fact, in many cases, it’s better not to use them at all. 

“Flowery” language you wouldn’t use in real life

It’s a personal statement, not a creative writing assignment. Keep the language in your statement simple. You’re not going to score any points by using unnecessarily fancy words. Your goal is clear communication.

Also, don’t try to sound like a doctor. This is just another way of trying to impress the reader. You want the reader to like you based on the way you write, not be turned off because you are trying to impress them.

“Try to avoid using a lot of jargon and abbreviations,” advises Mary Dundas, educator at Academized. 


Avoid talking hyperbolically about how passionate you are. As noted earlier, it’s better to show than tell so give examples of things you have done. Above all, keep the writing in your statement professional.

If you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of most applicants! 

4. How can I make my ERAS personal statement unique?

As evidenced by The Voice and American Idol , it is everyone’s impulse to divulge their “sob story” to help them stand out and garner sympathy from the audience. While it’s important to include stories that helped shape you as a person, it is very transparent and cliché to talk about that person you know who was struck by a medical tragedy, and how ever since you vowed to “save people.”

The best way to make your statement unique is to allow your personality to shine through. Use your words, your humor, and your depth to tell your story. Find a way to show yourself to your reader, and if you do this, your essay will be unique!

5. Should I have more than one ERAS personal statement to upload?

In short, absolutely have multiple personal statements to upload. Especially if you are applying to more than one specialty, it’s essential that you have several versions of your personal statement.

That doesn’t mean you have to write a whole new one, you just have to tailor it to fit that specialty. If you’re applying for a preliminary year, tailor your personal statement to explain how important you feel a solid foundation in medicine is for dermatology (or whichever specialty you are applying to) and what you’re looking for in a preliminary year.

Furthermore, I found that for the programs I really wanted to interview with, I would upload a tailored personal statement for that program saying something like, “I am seeking a family medicine residency position with ABC University program because of their dedication to XYZ.” Simply name-dropping their institution and noting the strength of their program demonstrates your attention to detail and interest in their institution. Even if you are an amazing applicant, if a program doesn’t feel you are interested in their specific program, they won’t interview you. It’s best to make sure you give those out-of-state programs some extra attention so they know you are willing to relocate for them!

Lastly, you should know that you can upload as many versions of your personal statement as you like onto ERAS, but be especially careful when uploading and make sure you apply the correct personal statement to each program! Triple-check your work! Pro Tip: Use your file names to help you stay organized. Pick a format and stick with it, such as “PS-JohnsHopkins,” “USCF-PS,” etc.

6. When should I start writing my ERAS personal statement?

The sooner the better, people. Get cracking now! You can even begin to think of ideas during your third year as you develop your interests in specific specialties. As ideas come to you, jot them into your phone so you don’t forget!

One of the best ways to begin writing your personal statement is to go over some questions about yourself. Ask yourself, who are you and what drives you forward? Think about the kinds of things that interest you and why you developed those interests. Maybe consider some mistakes you have made, how you learned from them, and how they have changed you. Or ask yourself, how do your interests and personality contribute to the goals you have set? 

Think about those kinds of questions and write down the answers. Reflect on them, put them away, and come back to them. Then, use them to form an outline—this will help you figure out all your points and what you want to say before you start writing. 

If you still feel like you just don’t know how to get started, give the five-point essay format a shot and see if it works for you. In short, you begin with a paragraph that is about four or five sentences long. The goal of this first paragraph is to grab a reader’s attention. Use the next three or four body paragraphs to talk about yourself. Try and have one of them focus on your clinical understanding, while another talks about service. Then end with a solid conclusion paragraph that mirrors your introduction, summarizes who you are, and ends by looking toward the future. 

7. Should I ask for any help with my ERAS personal statement?

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, YES! Absolutely ask for feedback on your personal statement. After getting your draft finished, show it to whoever will look at it—however, please remember to take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt and to strongly consider the source. It is absolutely essential to have your personal statement reviewed by an objective third party to ensure that the message you are trying to communicate is loud and clear. This means that you shouldn’t give it to a friend or family member who is going to placate you with a useless, “Yeah, looks great!”

Find a mentor, advisor, chief resident or attending, someone who is accustomed to reading ERAS personal statements, and get feedback from them. You can be certain that going through this step will only make your personal statement better. If you take their advice and don’t like how things are panning out, you can always revert back to an older draft.

But in just about every case, another set of eyes to give you big-picture feedback on what you’ve written will improve your piece. Do this early in the process, when you have gotten a simple draft together, so that you don’t present someone with an idea that you are married to, only to find out that it doesn’t come through clearly.

Be sure to ask other people what they think of your draft, but be careful about asking other students for help. Sometimes they get weird, and try to give you advice about making your statement more like theirs because they want to feel justified in their own efforts.

Finally, it should be mentioned that there are services out there that will “write your personal statement” for you. Aside from the obvious reasons why not to do this, you have to be really careful. Those services don’t know you, don’t know your voice, and oftentimes have very generic ways of putting these statements together.  Using a service to help polish your statement, though, is A-OK. Some you may find useful in that regard are ViaWriting , Writing Populist , StateofWriting , and SimpleGrad .

Lastly, you may consider working with a residency counselor who can help set your application apart with insider advice and ensure you optimize all elements of the residency application process. Our residency consultants are residents and attendings who have successfully guided hundreds of students from residency applications through the Match!

Typical residency consulting work consists of:

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Not sure if a residency consultant is the right fit for you? Take this quiz to see if you would benefit from some extra guidance during the residency application process!

8. Where can I find examples of ERAS personal statements to inspire me?

Every good writer learned how to write by reading the works of other people. This includes personal statements! Very often your career offices from your undergraduate studies will have examples of personal statements that can serve as inspiration for your own masterpiece. You can also ask older classmates and recent graduates if they would feel comfortable sharing their personal statements with you. 

Remember, too, that inspiration can come from nontraditional sources. Try reading poetry or a novel before sitting down to write your statement. You might be surprised by how it helps to get your creative juices flowing!

9. Is it better to cover all of my experiences, or focus on a few in particular?

It’s better to focus on several key experiences rather than provide a broad overview of your life up to the present time. Your resume will fill in any gaps for your reader. The point of the personal statement is to spend a few paragraphs reflecting on one or two themes that define who you are as a person. Stay focused, and go deep!

10. How much should I share about my career goals in my ERAS personal statement?

Remember, the majority of training programs you will be applying to are academic medical centers. For those programs in particular, make sure to emphasize why an academic environment is a good fit for you. This does not have to mean research! Perhaps you like the idea of becoming a clinician educator and want to be at XYZ program for the opportunity to teach medical students. 

Likewise, if you are applying to a program at a community hospital, make sure to reflect on how your career goals are suited for that environment. Maybe private practice is on your radar, or you want to practice in a hospital that is more close-knit than a large academic center.

Whatever the case, try to make your stated career goals align with the orientation of the program you’re applying to. In reality, you may have no idea what direction you want your career to go in. But for a personal statement, try to commit to one general theme if possible.

11. What about my personal statements for preliminary or transitional year programs?

For applicants who are also applying to preliminary or transitional year programs, it can seem daunting to tailor your personal statement to a position that isn’t part of your ultimate specialty. But don’t worry—preliminary and transitional year programs still want to know who you are as a person and why you’re interested in anesthesiology, dermatology, or whatever advanced specialty you’re aiming for. You don’t need to change your personal statement as much as you may think!

The goal of a personal statement for these one-year programs is not to convince the reader that you suddenly love internal medicine despite going into radiology. The reader knows this is a temporary stopping place for you. Instead, emphasize the traits that make you YOU and will enhance their hospital!

12. What if I’m interested in a non-traditional path after residency?

Some of you may be thinking of alternative career paths after residency such as consulting or pharmaceutical work. It’s probably best to leave those specific goals out of your ERAS personal statement and allow readers to assume that you want to continue in clinical medicine after graduating from residency. You might want to instead phrase it as something you want to be incorporated into your clinical career, but not something you would leave medicine for, even if that’s what you have in mind!

Remember, you are under no obligation to share your every thought and desire in a personal statement! These statements are being read by reviewers who dedicated their lives to education and clinical medicine, so keep that in mind.

Further Reading

Keep these tips in mind as you write your ERAS personal statement, and you’ll be way ahead of the other applicants. If you start to get stressed out, remember, you have an amazing story to tell, and we are here to help tease that story out from the confines of your brain! For more help, reach out to one of our residency advisors .

Looking for more help during the residency application process? We’ve got you covered with more (free!) content written by Blueprint tutors:

  • How to Get Standout Letters of Recommendation for Your Residency Application
  • How to Maximize Your Chances of Matching With Your Dream Residency
  • What’s It Like Working With a Medical Residency Consultant?
  • Residency Interview Tips & Tricks: The Ultimate Guide
  • Dual Applying for Residency: Is It Right For Me?

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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

Getting into a residency has never been more competitive. Founded by a former associate program director, the experts at MedEdits will make your residency personal statement shine. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been matched to one of their top-choice programs.

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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

Residency Related Articles and Guidance

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  • Residency Personal Statement
  • How to write a residency interview thank you letter.
  • What Outfit To Wear To Your Residency Interview
  • Medical Residency Timeline & Length
  • Medical Residency Salary By Specialty
  • How To Master MyERAS, The Medical Residency Interview, and Common Residency Interview Questions
  • Master the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) & ERAS Timeline
  • Residency Letters Of Recommendation (with ERAS Samples)
  • Residency Letter of Intent
  • How to Write a Residency Letter of Intent
  • Residency Love Letters
  • Residency Match Success: Lessons Learned

Residency Specialty Articles

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How to Write Your ERAS Personal Statement

Alexandra R., MD

A prospective resident sitting at a desk, working on her ERAS personal statement.

4 Keys to Writing A Compelling Residency Application Personal Statement

There are a variety of mixed opinions about the importance of the ERAS personal statement in the residency application process. Some people think that a personal statement, if it is captivating enough, can be your gateway to obtaining an interview. Others, however, think that a personal statement is simply a formality and that most programs do not take the time to look at it closely. Thus, in the latter scenario, the main goal is to not have your personal statement stand out in a negative way. Regardless of what you have heard and may continue to hear throughout the residency application process, you need to interpret the advice in the context of your particular scenario: decide for yourself how important the ERAS personal statement may be in the setting of your background and experiences as well as how important it may be for the field that you are applying into.

In general, you should start working on your ERAS personal statement early so that you can have multiple rounds of revisions. It is actually completely normal (and a good sign) if you end up having multiple completely different versions! The hardest part is sitting down and starting- just do it! The earlier you start writing, the more time you have to continue re-working and re-thinking your story. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective. Remember, having a great personal statement hook is a key component to writing a compelling statement that residency program directors will actually want to read. The hook is so important, we have actually dedicated an entire post to writing it correctly here. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective.

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Once you feel comfortable with a first draft, consider who you would like to share it with to receive constructive feedback. Ideally, it would be somebody whose opinions you value and who has demonstrated some success of their own accord – either friends who have gone through the application cycle and matched at one of their top 3 ranked programs, or faculty you have developed a relationship with. Often, medical schools also have advisory deans or some advising office, who may provide valuable insight into what residency program directors are looking for. An alternative advising source may even be the career center at your university. Even though career centers advise undergraduates, professional degree students (MD, JD, MS, etc), and even graduate students, their writing advice is broadly applicable to any field and their close attention to detail can be invaluable. Additionally, if you have friends that have applied in previous years, particularly in the same specialty in which you are currently applying, it can be helpful to see if they feel comfortable letting you read their statement – this can give you insight into the many shapes and form the PS may take and can provide helpful tidbits of information they’ve gleaned from the application process itself. You can also ask your advising office / deans for examples of personal statements specific to your specialty. In the event that you exhaust the resources available to you and you still feel uncertain about your statement, we welcome residency applicants to look into our residency matching services at Elite Medical Prep. We offer focused professional personal statement help from students who have successfully matched into some of the most competitive and prestigious residency programs in the world. 

Keep in mind that you do not need to incorporate everyone’s feedback into your personal statement. However, it is helpful to have multiple people’s advice and perspective, thus we encourage you to reach out to more than one person. We took a survey of our EMP tutors and ~60% said they worked with 6+ people, ~30% worked with 3-5 people, and 10% worked with <3 people to edit, read, and provide suggestions.

Lastly, once you have your personal statement finalized, please make sure you know what it is about. More than 85% of our tutors surveyed had an interview question about something specifically relating to their personal statement that was not anywhere else on their application. Be ready to talk about whatever stories you included—use the personal statement as an opportunity to help you shine and be remembered in a positive way!

We surveyed our tutors about advise they received about their own personal statements and collected feedback points from ERAS personal statements they have reviewed to see what feedback you should remember:

1) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement too long:

  • The structure of the personal statement should be about 4 paragraphs.
  • You do not want it to be more than one page single-spaced (standard font like arial or times new roman, size 12).
  • If your personal statement is too long, it is even more likely for programs to not read it completely.

2) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement weird or controversial:

  • “It’s okay to make your personal statement ‘vanilla’. You don’t want it to be a red flag /too creative that it strikes readers the wrong way.”
  • “It’s far more likely that your personal statement will be entirely forgettable than that stand out, and that’s OK. Better to have a relatively bland, but acceptable PS and otherwise stellar application than to have a stellar application tainted by a PS that went too far in trying to be too interesting or original, or having something you write strike a reader the wrong way.”
  • “Never write about something that could possibly make you cry if brought up.”
  • “ Unless you feel very strongly about certain political beliefs or controversial topics (i.e. abortion) and would not want to be at a program where anyone felt otherwise, it’s probably better to avoid writing about anything polarizing in your statement.”
  • “Your personal statement should be neither personal nor a statement”… basically, you aren’t necessarily going to stand out with your personal statement, you just want it to support the rest of your application, and it doesn’t need to be groundbreaking.”

3) Highlight what uniquely draws you to that particular specialty:

  • “Remember that everyone reading your statement has gone into the field you have chosen and they know why it is awesome – so avoid singing general praises of a field – it needs to be PERSONAL!”
  • “Tie everything into why you chose that particular specialty.”

4) Make your statement easy to read by telling a short and concise story about yourself:

  • “That was way too long and formulaic. Cut to the chase but also paint a story rather than tell one.
  • “Tell a unique story that gives insight to who you are as a person.”
  • “Think about the purpose of your personal statement in the context of all the other components of your application: this is mainly useful as more of a personality gauge – ie who are you and what makes you tick?”
  • “After reading your personal statement, the reader should come away with the feeling that they really want to meet you – not that you just summarized your ERAS in paragraph form. This is your opportunity to convey what is intangible on ERAS and in your letters – so use it as such!”
  • “Even though your life is not coherent, you should present a coherent narrative – and make it brief! Not more than 500 words.”
  • “Build a story around an interesting fact or experience.”
  • “Show, don’t tell” – Try to use anecdotes as much as possible

Good Luck!!!

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About the Author

Alexandra earned her Neuroscience degree from the University of Michigan, graduating with Summa Cum Laude recognition in 2014. She continued her education at the University…

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eras personal statement tips

How To Write A Good ERAS Personal Statement [Ultimate Guide]

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Are you dealing with an ERAS personal statement for the first time? It’s not a simple document, and while you’re at it, you must make sure that yours stands out among other candidates .

I’m here to tell you what unsuccessful applicants do — not pay attention to miscellaneous details in the process, such as writing their residency personal statement !

Perhaps you’re searching for how to write one like a pro. If so, then stay put and read on to achieve a captivating personal statement and have a good shot at getting the interview!

Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here. 

Table Of Contents

What Is The ERAS Personal Statement?

Getting into the best residency program is vital for every medical professional. Not only will it add substantial value to your career, but it will also help you grow in more ways than you think.

You might be thinking about how exactly you get accepted into one. It would be best if you focused on writing a well-crafted personal statement for residency , among other things.

A personal statement is a one-page essay articulating who you are and why you want to be part of your chosen specialty .

An ERAS personal statement is essential to the whole ERAS application process. It must create an ideal picture of you as a candidate and why program directors should consider your application despite the limited slots available.

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eras personal statement tips

How To Write A Good ERAS Personal Statement

An ERAS personal statement should very much remind you of essay writing — it follows a logical order and requires distinctive sections such as an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Step #1 Start With An Outline

Too many ideas can cloud our heads, and they can sabotage our personal statements. To keep our thoughts organized, writing an outline is the best way to start !

Step #2 Lead With Details

As I’ve mentioned, a residency personal statement must be concise — under 3,500 characters plus the spaces are enough, but it creates constraints.

For a good introduction, you may want to start with an anecdote to hook your readers . You may describe an experience or a situation related to your specialty.

The point here is to pin a unique story to build momentum. My additional tip for you is to write straightforwardly but be as detailed as possible !

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Step #3 Connect Your Narrative To The Main Topic

One way to keep a reader invested is by being a compelling storyteller . The body portion of your statement is the perfect place to develop transitions.

This is the section where you must describe what kind of medical specialist you aspire to be . You may also add the interests that made you pursue the specialty .

Your personal statement’s body can be of two sections or paragraphs — one for discussing your specialty and the other for your advocacy.

Step #4 Tie Them All Together

Your last paragraph should leave program committees with an understanding of who you are and your reasons for applying .

Keep this short and precise.

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eras personal statement tips

Does The Personal Statement Matter For Residency?

Some people think a personal statement is only for formality, and most directors would not take the time to read them thoroughly. 

Yet, according to the 2021 NRMP Program Director Survey , the personal statement ranks second with 83.8 percent in terms of deciding whom the program directors want to interview !

Regardless of what others may think, a personal statement can be your gateway to acquiring an interview if it’s appealing enough. Moreover, you may want to keep an eye on your letters of recommendation as it ranks first in the 2021 survey .

However, presenting good letters of recommendation only offers qualitative information. The personal statement allows you to make a case about yourself in qualitative terms directly.

To answer the question of whether a personal statement matters for your residency application, of course, it does! Note that a poorly-written personal statement could hurt your firm application, but a good one could help you advance to the interviews.

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What Should I Put In My ERAS Personal Statement?

Remember that a sound ERAS personal statement is not a hundred percent about what you do but better about who you are and how you present your passion, skills, and ambitions .

Your personal statement should contain information not found in your resume — it should offer new details about you . It must highlight what uniquely ties you with your specialty .

Try answering one or two of the queries below and convince the program directors that you are a good fit for them.

  • What are your long-term or career plans?
  • What outside interests do you have?
  • What are your grounds for choosing the specific specialty?
  • What accomplishments do you want to emphasize?
  • What contributions can you provide to the residency program?

These elements give program directors information about who you are on a deeper level and what kind of associate you would be if you become part of their team.

You may also add a story to spice up your personal statement.

How Long Should An ERAS Personal Statement Be?

There are no specific word counts or number of paragraphs you need to follow to perfect your ERAS personal statement.

You may write long passages but only for proofreading purposes. Chances are, you still have to chop and delete some unnecessary words or phrases.

You know what they say, “less talk, less mistakes.” You don’t have to make your personal statement too long just to prove a point.

More likely, if your personal statement is too long, they won’t take the time to read it. One page single-spaced personal statement could be enough.

The format of your personal statement can be about four paragraphs. Make sure it’s short, precise, and easy to read.

More importantly, the length of your ERAS personal statement should not be your only concern. Plagiarism and grammar must also be on your list of priorities.

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What Are the Things To Avoid In Writing An ERAS Personal Statement?

After knowing what to put and what to write, it’s time to understand what things you should avoid in writing an ERAS personal statement.

Incorrect Grammar, Spelling, And Punctuation

Check your grammar thoroughly! There are plenty of free apps that may help you with this one.

SpellCheckPlus and Grammarly are some tools you might want to familiarize yourself with to be a better writer. 

Don’t overcomplicate your sentences. Make sure not to give your readers a hard time decoding what you’re trying to say.

More importantly, try not to sound like a thesaurus. Be as authentic as you can.

ERAS Personal statement

An ERAS Personal Statement Should Not Be Like A Resume

Think of it this way, your CV or resume is the fancy, polished, and summarized version of you in a paper . Your personal statement is your chance to be more personal, honest, and vulnerable .

Give the program directors the chance to connect with you, so don’t just list off your accomplishments and focus exclusively on the momentous shiny parts of your life.

Don’t Make Someone Else The Hero

Yes, you may talk about a few people who have influenced you , but make sure you’re still the story’s main character! It’s a “personal” statement for a reason, not “someone else’s” essay!

When you re-read your personal statement and realize that you have a whole paragraph talking about someone else, scratch them and write a new one.

Don’t Whine In Your ERAS Personal Statement

You can write about the challenges you’ve encountered in your life or how much you’ve grown, but don’t spend too much time discussing how tough you’ve had it . After all, you’re vying for respect, not pity.

Additionally, if you’re talking about overcoming a specific challenge, make sure to focus on them, not just simply brush over it.

Don’t Put Anything Irrelevant

A lack of focus is one of the most common issues in any type of writing. Don’t throw in any information that isn’t relevant to your story.

Every sentence you write must contribute to the overall point of the personal statement . Unless you’re planning to dig deeper into details, it’s much better not to include them.

Should I Put My Red Flags In The Personal Statement?

This question heavily depends on what red flag you’re talking about. As much as we all want to be as honest as we can, sometimes, leaving out some details is the best way to do it.

Putting situations like having a low passing grade on your exams is not something the program committee would want to hear from a medical candidate.

On the other hand, let’s say you failed your first exam on the first try. Don’t make excuses; take ownership of why and what happened , and explain what you’ve learned from such circumstances .

Honestly, it’s all about how serious the red flag is and how far you can explain yourself as truthful and mature. 

what is a residency personal statement

Do I Need To Hire A Professional To Write An ERAS Personal Statement For Me?

The truth is, you don’t need to hire a professional to write your residency personal statement . As the name suggests, writing one can be done by you personally.

Although you don’t need one, hiring a professional writer who knows what they are doing might help you progress . Take note that writing an ERAS personal statement is not as easy as it sounds.

If you don’t feel like engaging with a professional, try at least asking for others’ opinions regarding your personal statement . This way, you’d receive constructive feedback to further enhance what you’ve written. 

I’m not talking about random friends here. Make sure you’re asking the right people — friends who have gone through the ERAS application cycle or faculty with whom you have developed a relationship.

When Should I Start Writing My ERAS Personal Statement?

Give yourself plenty of time to write. Start as early as now !

Most of the time, our first writing draft is not the best one. Generally speaking, you should start working on your residency personal statement as early as possible to have more time for a couple of revisions .

Edit your residency personal statement and proofread it carefully. Remember that every word counts, so take time to edit them until you’re fully satisfied.

Can I Edit My Residency Personal Statement After Uploading It To The ERAS?

Yes, you won’t have to worry about last-minute corrections. ERAS allows applicants to edit their personal statements anytime , but only during the application season!

Although we want to expose the best things about ourselves, sometimes, writing less is more. Always remember that program directors have limited time, so don’t make your ERAS personal statement hard to read at first glance.

Most importantly, a solid residency personal statement may or may not guarantee an interview, but a poorly-crafted one will indeed comprise your shot at the residency program.

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eras personal statement tips

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Writing the Perfect Residency Personal Statement

If you’re in your third year of medical school, it’s time to sharpen your personal statement writing skills again for the ERAS application .

The good news is you already wrote a great one that got you accepted into medical school ! Now, you’ll need to dig deep and channel the same creative spirit that was there about 3 years ago. 

Many applicants are looking for a special formula for writing a personal statement . But here’s the truth: There’s no secret formula. A fantastic residency personal statement includes well-written storytelling detailing your experiences as a medical student and why you’re an excellent fit for the residencies you’re applying to.

In this article, we’ll talk about inspiration, length, structure, and dynamic writing. Let’s dive in.

What is the ERAS personal statement, and why do you need to write one?

Your residency personal statement is similar to your medical school personal statement in that it’s your chance to directly make a case for yourself . Residency program directors use these essays to get to know you beyond your CV. They can only learn so much about you from your medical education history.

Most of the information program directors use to determine if you’re a good fit is quantitative —  GPAs, USMLE scores, etc. Odds are, these numbers will be fairly similar across the board. 

What sets you apart from other applicants will be qualitative — your personal experiences and career goals, whether you’re hard-working or a team player.

What should you include in your residency personal statement ?

In your residency personal statement , include your experiences and interests that have driven your ambition to mature as a medical professional.

Take time to think about what qualities you’d expect in an exemplary physician. Then, create a list of topics reflecting these qualities from your background.  

Create a list of ideas of what to write from these prompts:

  • Memorable or “a-ha” moments during medical school (including specific rotations ) that changed the way you think about medicine.
  • Volunteering or non-profit work.
  • Your greatest skills and qualities and how you use them when practicing medicine.
  • Specific instances of when you used strong teamwork skills.
  • A personal anecdote that isn’t included on a resume, like an elective that led to an unexpected encounter with a patient that you won’t forget.
  • Professors, mentors , family, friends, or anyone else that has inspired your path.
  • Your goals in your future career.
  • Reasons you are drawn to your specialty.
  • Meaningful experiences in medical school or extracurriculars .
  • Your most commendable achievements.

Why did you choose your specialty?

When you explain why you chose a specialty, discuss the reasons why you enjoy that specialty and how your strengths will apply to your future career. 

Make your answer heartfelt and honest. If your only reasons are money and the lifestyle, your chances of an interview with the program directors will plummet.

Answer these questions while brainstorming :

  • What appeals to you about this specialty?
  • Did past experiences or clinicals influence your decision for this program?
  • What do you believe are the most important qualities for a physician in this specialty? How have you begun to cultivate these qualities in yourself?
  • Are there future goals you want to achieve in this specialty?
  • Have you done any research related to this field or the advancement of this specialty?

How long should a personal statement be for residency?

The personal statement essay section on ERAS allows for 28,000 characters (about 5 pages). 

Our advice? Don’t max out your character count.

Program directors must read the demographics, transcripts, MSPE, experiences section, personal statement , and letters of recommendation before making a decision. That’s a lot of reading.

Your goal is to make your point concisely — writing about a page plus a paragraph is the sweet spot.

Personal Statement Structure

Many applicants don’t know where to start, so we suggest breaking the essay into bite-sized pieces. Use a standard 4-5 paragraph structure. This way, you’ve got small, manageable goals.

Write your residency personal statement using:

  • An introduction paragraph.
  • 2-3 paragraphs to expand on your theme.
  • A conclusion paragraph to tie it all together.


Draw the reader in with a story or anecdote, and introduce a theme. A narrative voice works well here to engage the reader and get them interested. 

Don’t tell an extensive story; provide just enough to provide context and introduce a theme.

Body Paragraphs (2-3)

Explore and expand on the central theme of your personal statement . You can talk about the traits or life experiences that will make you good at family medicine , dermatology , or whatever specialty you’re pursuing. 

Ensure you’re being specific to the specialty — you don’t need to prove you’ll be a good doctor so much as a good doctor in the field you’re applying to .

Wrap everything up and end with a “bang.” The conclusion should serve to bring all your points together in one place. When I say end with a “bang,” I mean to finish strong . 

Stating: “For the reasons above, I believe I will make an excellent internist, ” doesn’t leave the reader with much.

Try something a bit more passionate, idealistic, and enthusiastic. Here’s an example:

“ Internal medicine is centered around improving lives, orchestrating, and managing complex patient care . To me, the true challenge is in the art of internal medicine — to tailor to patients’ needs to maximize their health and improve their overall quality of life.”

With this approach to the structure of your personal statement , the essay becomes more manageable. You can set yourself mini-assignments by just developing one component at a time. Complete one portion each week, and you’ll be done by the end of the month!

Should a residency personal statement have a title? 

There is no hard and fast rule about whether a residency personal statement should have a title. Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to include a title in your personal statement is up to you.

Consider these factors when deciding whether or not to include a title:

  • A good title can serve as a headline for the reader, making your essay stand out before they even start reading. 
  • A good title can make your statement stand out and help it to be more memorable.
  • On the other hand, a poorly chosen or overly generic title could actually detract from your personal statement.

Most residency programs do not require, or even want, a title for personal statements. Be sure to check the program’s guidelines before including one.

If you do choose to include a title, make sure it is relevant, concise, and impactful. Avoid overly generic or cliche titles, and focus on conveying the main message or theme of your personal statement. 

It is less common to have a title, so if you do it right, you may stand out from the crowd.

How To Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out

Take time to brush up on your writing skills to make your personal statement stand out . 

These skills may not have been your focus in the last few years, but concisely expressing your dedication to the specialty will retain a program director ’s attention. 

Oh, and always remember to proofread and check your grammar! If you specifically prompt ChatGPT to “review your personal statement for grammar and punctuation only,” it does a pretty good job. 

Just be sure not to have AI write your personal statement, as it doesn’t know your stories, and can’t convey your sentiment, tone, or emotion.

Language and Vocabulary

The simpler, the better. Hand your essay to a friend or family member to proofread. If they have to stop and look up any word, it’s probably the wrong word choice. Maybe it’s the perfect word for the sentence, but anything that distracts the reader from the content is a problem.

Avoid the following:

  • Contractions. Contractions are informal language. They aren’t appropriate for applications or professional writing.
  • “Really” as in “I really learned a lot.” Try the word “truly” instead. It sounds more sincere.
  • “Really” or “very” as in “it was a really/very great experience.” Here, “really” is a qualifier that holds the place of a better word choice; e.g., Really great = fantastic, wonderful, exquisite; Very important = paramount, momentous, critical.

Simple sentence structure is usually the best. Follow these rules:

  • Avoid quotations if you can. This is your essay, and it should focus on what you have to say, not someone else. There may be exceptions to this rule (like a statement a professor made that changed the course of your medical career), but these are rare.
  • Punctuate correctly. Misplaced commas or a missing period can distract a reader from your content. If grammar isn’t your strong suit, have a friend (or a spellchecker like Grammarly) check your essay for errors.

Avoid Clichés

Saying you want to go into pediatrics because you love kids might be true, but it’s also a given. Everyone going into healthcare is interested in helping people. 

This is your opportunity to make it more personal. Talk about the life experiences that have uniquely informed your career path and what makes you different from every other med student trying to get a residency interview . 

Don’t Make It Too Complicated

Be simple, straight to the point, and authentic. 

Aim for clear wording that communicates your central theme. If you talk about your professional future and goals, they should be realistic and carefully considered. Your goal is to leave program directors with a strong impression of your character and maturity. 

Try Dynamic Writing

Dynamic writing is all about feel and rhythm. Even good content written poorly can come out flat. Here are some cues to evaluate and improve your writing:

  • Read your writing out loud. Do you have to catch your breath in the middle of a sentence? If so, the sentence is too long and needs some additional punctuation, editing, or to be split up.
  • Vary your sentence structure and/or the length of the sentences. When you’re reading, do you feel like there is a repetitive rhythm? This usually results from too many short sentences stacked on top of each other.

Be Prepared To Revise Your Statement

You’ve done this part before. Once the bulk of your statement is done, have someone else read it, then start revising. The great thing about the revision process is that you don’t have to write the first draft perfectly. 

If you can afford it, consider working with a professional team for help with the residency application process , including personal statement editing.

Our friends at MedSchoolCoach can help you with personal statement editing. 

Should you write multiple ERAS personal statements ?

Write a residency personal statement relevant to each specialty you apply to, each with a clearly stated goal.

While it’s a good idea to write a personal statement for every specialty you apply to, you don’t have to write one for each specific program . Maybe you have research experience in a few different specialties and aren’t sure where you’ll get residency training .

A blanket personal statement to cover all specialties is bland at best and, at worst, a red flag . Your interest in becoming an OB/GYN should be informed by different experiences than your interest in anesthesiology or plastic surgery .

Anyone who reads your personal statement should have all the relevant information for integrating you into their program. Don’t overshare experiences or learnings from irrelevant rotations , classes, or experiences.

Let’s say you send your personal statement to a program director for a radiology residency program . If he reads that you’re torn between radiology and emergency medicine , is he more likely to accept you, or an applicant who seems all-in for his program’s specialty?

Ready to write? Get your residency personal statement prepared!

It’s time to knock out that first paragraph ! We have given you the structure and tools to write a personal statement that reflects your strengths. Remember, there’s no formula for the perfect personal statement , but there are tried and true methods for strong writing.

Schedule a free consultation with MedSchoolCoach to see how we can help you increase your chances of matching into the residency of your choice. 

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Writing an Effective Personal Statement

Written by Elizabeth Bashian, MD

Of all the components of the ERAS application, the personal statement is one of the most difficult parts to complete—as med students, we’re generally uncomfortable with situations with no “right” answer. That said, you’re not writing the great American novel. In general, 2% of personal statements are good enough to set applicants apart in a good way, 3% set applicants apart in a bad way, and 95% don’t make a huge difference either way. If you’re reading this looking for advice, you’re probably aiming for that 95%. Make sure your personal statement is well-written, but don’t lose sleep over it—there are plenty of other stressors during application season. The hardest part is getting started so we have a basic, yet highly effective, formula that will get you past your empty Word doc. 

-       Paragraph 1: an anecdote about why you fell in love with your specialty of choice . This can usually be a patient story: you were rotating on peds and had the chance to tell the parents that their child was cured, when you scrubbed in on a Whipple and followed the patient throughout their recovery, the time you got to catch the baby during your OB/GYN rotation. It can also be a personal experience: after you tore your ACL in high school soccer, you realized you wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon, etc. This story should be interesting enough to draw someone in but succinct enough that they keep reading the rest of your personal statement.

-       Paragraph 2: what you ~love~ about this specialty . As a general surgery applicant, I talked about how surgeons demonstrated leadership both in and out of the OR, how much I liked the technical aspects of working with my hands and being in the OR, and how general surgery specifically allowed you to be involved with both medical and surgical aspects of care. While there is a lot of overlap between specialties, try and identify a few characteristics unique to that specialty. 

-       Paragraph 3: what traits/experiences/skills do you have that make you well qualified for this specialty . The key here is that these should not necessarily be skills you’ve learned on your 1 month AI; instead, try to come up with something that will set you apart from every other applicant. For example, your role in student government has taught you leadership and communication skills; training for marathons has helped build resilience; your activism work has taught you how to advocate for patients, etc. While there’s some variation between specialties, most programs are looking for people who are hard-working, compassionate, efficient, resilient, and good communicators, so these sorts of traits are a good fallback

-       Paragraph 4: Conclusion —in 1-2 sentences, sum up your greatest strengths and how those will make you a resident they want to work with. Very briefly touch on your intro anecdote—“and the patient makes a great recovery, teaching me the power of effective communication”—but don’t get bogged down in details. This can also be a good area to include program-specific information if you’re sending unique applications to any program.

A few other considerations: grammar and spelling mistakes are a major red flag. Also, if you’re including medical information, keep it general but make sure it makes sense—ask an upper-level resident or attending to review it for accuracy. Keep it concise: about 1 page. My biggest advice is to start early (like today) and have a draft you can come back to a few times. I asked a lot of people to read mine; some gave me great feedback, and others were not so helpful, but starting a draft early gives you more time to get feedback as well. 

eras personal statement tips

“Dos and Don’ts” of a Personal Statement

Tips for the eras work and volunteer experiences sections.

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How to write your personal statement for ERAS/residency applications

The personal statement is occasionally a chance to “make” your application, but it’s always a risk to “break” it.

Keep in mind: it’s only 1 page (literally—it should fit on no more than one page when printed from the ERAS application, which is somewhere around 750-800 words on the longer end; 600-650 is a better goal; mine was around 500). On one interview, I was told that the program’s main criteria for evaluating personal statements was not noteworthiness but rather inoffensiveness .

Questions to ask yourself in approaching the PS:

  • What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
  • What are my career plans?
  • What accomplishments do I want to emphasize?
  • What outside interests do I have?
  • What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?

You don’t have to answer all of these questions, but answering one or two will help you get the point of view you need to get a draft going.

The personal statement is a chance to state why you are choosing a specialty (and a location or a specific program) and to try to convince the reader that you are a good fit. While you are trying to say that you are awesome, you cannot simply say you are awesome . Like fiction, you should show, not tell when possible. This is not a CV in paragraph form. You must be more subtle.

Things to do:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to write; start now.
  • Write more than one. Tell your story from multiple angles and see which one comes out on top.
  • Often your first essay is not the best.
  • Consider explaining gaps in your application (leave of absence, course failure, low Step 1)
  • If there are particular programs you are desperate for, you may consider tailoring your statement for them. The individualized approach is obvious and is unlikely to make the desired impact. If you tailor, don’t be a sycophant (it’s too transparent). The most important time to individualize your PS is if you discuss, for example, your desire to be part of a big bustling academic center: make sure to change that if you are applying to a small community program.
  • Be straightforward in your writing
  • Edit and proofread your work carefully . Then do it again. And again. And then one last time for good measure.
  • Be concise. Edit down until every word counts. I personally subscribe to the common reviewer adage: “The more you write, the less I read.”
  • Ask for second opinions and feedback; you don’t always have to listen but it’s important to receive.
  • Your parents and significant others are wonderful readers, but they are generally insufficient. They love you too much. Have your PS vetted by your Specialty and Faculty Mentors .

Things to avoid:

  • Self-Congratulatory Statements
  • Self-Centered Statements
  • “Emotional” Stories (give it a try, but be wary). Telling your reader about your feelings directly often makes the feelings themselves feel contrived.
  • Reality embellishment (anything you write is fair game as interview fodder; if you can’t discuss it at length, then it shouldn’t be there)
  • Using tired analogies (or any analogies, really)
  • Quotations (you couldn’t think of 500 words of your own?)
  • Remember, your reader has a stack of applications. Don’t make your essay hurt to read, overly cutesy, or sappy to the point where it’s no longer convincing.

For most people, your personal statement will not/cannot stand out in a good way (standing out in a bad way, though, is entirely possible). Why you pursued medicine may have been an interesting story (hint: it probably wasn’t), but why you chose your specialty is likely even more banal. If you don’t feel like you have anything special to say, it’s because you don’t. That’s normal. Aim for competence.

There are sample essays available for perusal on medfools . I think even the “good” ones are pretty painful in general, but your mileage may vary. Here are some good tips from UNC. The AAMC Advisor also has some quick advice . If your remember your login, Careers in Medicine also has similar stuff.

These are very good recommendations. In addition to proofreading and seeking advice from friends and family, I would also suggest considering a professional editing service. Although some of them can be costly, they see thousands of personal statements and will be able to objectively tell you if yours is competitive. This article also provides some good advice on residency personal statements:

I don’t agree with the need for professional services for the vast majority of applicants, and I really dislike people promoting their services through comments on my blog. In this case, the linked article isn’t terrible, so I’m not deleting this.

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Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency

Tips to convey “ why you for residency specialty”, use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewer..

  • Include topics that help the interview go smoothly.
  • Be sincere and help the interviewer know what’s important to you.
  • Include only the information that you want to discuss.

Write a focused essay, four or five paragraphs in length, that covers the basics.

  • The first paragrap h could introduce the reader to you and could focus on what led you to a career in medicine, more importantly your specialty. The tone of the first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
  • The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty. (Personal experiences from rotations, leadership activities, work, volunteer, community service, studying abroad, background and/or life/ family experiences).
  • The third/fourth paragraphs should confirm why you think this choice is right for you AND why you are right for the specialty. This is an opportunity further distinguish yourself.
  • The  close/final paragraph could inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals and/or how you see yourself in this specialty. Also, avoid spending too much content on “ What I want/seek/am interested in from a residency program …” The focus should be more on why they should choose you over other candidates

Questions to ask when approaching your Personal Statement:

  • What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
  • What are your key attributes?
  • What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
  • What are your career plans and how will your background/additional education contribute to the field?
  • What makes me unique enough to stand out among other candidates?

Your goal should be to write a well-crafted statement that is both original in its presentation and grammatically correct. Articulate your personal drive in as eloquent language as you can provide. The writing should flow. No one expects you to be a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about why you?

Don’t spend a lot of time providing information about you that programs will generally assume to be true for most competent medical students; “I want to help people”, “I love medicine”, “I want to match into a residency program where I can learn”

If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points beyond the career choice. Avoid spending too much time on “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine.” How did you arrive at your specialty choice and what experiences support how you arrived at the specialty choice?

Support your strengths and skillset with examples . Most medical student personal statement list similar strengths, “hard worker/will work hard”, “good communication skills”, “relate to/interact with patients” – so if you provide strengths that are common among medical students or even unique to you, it will be important to provide evidence to support your claims, directing programs to come to their own conclusion about your strength.

I f you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV , they should be relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.

Use your own words rather than rely on quotes; your own thoughts are more powerful. If you can make it work, great, but don’t dwell on quotes. With only 800 words or less…it is favorable to make them all your own.

Do NOT plagiarize your personal statement.

Length ; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 – this will be acceptable for most residency programs.

Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?

  • Melva Landrum , TCOM Residency Counselor will provide thorough feedback through an evaluation form that breaks down your entire personal statement including: content, grammar, structure, flow and overall impact. You can email your personal statement to [email protected] within one week.
  • The Career Center can also review personal statements and Center for Academic Performance (CAP) office can provide feedback mostly on grammar and structure.

This page was last modified on November 10, 2023

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eras personal statement tips

July 11, 2022

13 Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Your Residency Personal Statement

13 Essential Do’s and Don’ts For Your Residency Personal Statement

Residency applicants can submit applications via ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) starting September 7th. Don’t wait until the last minute – get cracking on those residency essays now!

Why is your residency essay so important?

Your personal statement is a vital part of your residency application ; it’s where you’ll explain why you’ve chosen your specialty and show the committee why you’re the best candidate for training. And unlike other pieces of your application (such as your letters of recommendation or your medical school transcript), your personal statement is something that you have complete control over. 

For a knockout personal statement, heed these do’s and don’ts!

  • DON’T reuse your med school personal statement When you applied to medical school, you had to demonstrate an interest in medicine and demonstrate that you had the potential to become a successful doctor. At this point in your education, you are a doctor – or about to be one. Unless your premed school career is very relevant to your specialty choice, there’s no need to explain why you originally pursued medicine. And if you reuse your med school personal statement, your specialty decision could come across as unformed or immature.
  • DO explain why you have chosen your specialty Your decision to pursue a certain specialty is a personal one, and program directors want to hear about it. Did you have a mentor who helped you see dermatology in a new way or did you love your time in the pathology lab? What is it about delivering babies that thrills you more than caring for them after they’re born? Use specific examples to illustrate your story and your distinctive experiences and perspectives. Most importantly, where do you see yourself in the future? Make your choice unambiguous and your commitment undeniable.
  • DON’T offer superficial or generic explanations for choosing your specialty “Internal medicine is like solving a puzzle.” “GPs serve as gatekeepers.” “The OR just feels like home.” Cliches like these – without the proper care – can be the death knell for personal statements. But what if you do love diagnostic puzzles, or enjoy helping patients navigate the healthcare system? What if you really do feel most comfortable in a surgical environment?
  • DO bring out your unique experiences and perspectives Sharing the very specific details of your experiences and supporting your explanation can elevate your reasons from a generic cliche to a specific, and personal insight. Use anecdotes to illustrate your story and bring your unique experiences and perspectives to life. To explain why you like the fast-paced energy of the emergency room, share a particular experience you had there, how your people skills and your ability to stay calm under pressure came into play, and how you felt a sense of accomplishment in helping patients in distress. To explain why pain medicine appeals to you, you might mention how you connected with an anesthesiologist who opened your eyes to the potential of this field. The more examples you can give about why this specialty is the specialty for you, the better.
  • DON’T sound pompous or self-important When describing your skills, be mindful of the line between confidence and smugness. You want to sound enthusiastic and confident, but never arrogant or boastful . For example, it can be very off-putting to a reader if you talk about how work was too easy for you, making it sound like you think you’re more accomplished than everyone you worked with. After all, your readers are considering you as a potential colleague.
  • DO emphasize your strengths with tact and grace You’ve gained some valuable technical skills and exposure to clinical practice, but so have all your classmates. Which of your unique qualities will make your #1 residency program rank you as their #1 choice? Your personal experiences, both in medical school and outside, reveal more about you than your CV and USMLE Step exams. A good way to think about this is in the context of what’s needed for that specialty. Will the listening skills you developed through mentoring premeds help you as a family practitioner? Have quick reflexes, honed through years of playing piano, prepared you for the technical dexterity you’ll need in surgery? Will teamwork skills developed at the student-run clinic help you contribute to an obstetrics team? Select specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and make your essay come alive.
  • DON’T send the same personal statement to every program You’re probably applying to many residency programs and the thought of tailoring each one is daunting. Yet each program has certain distinctions that make it unique. If your personal statement talks about how much you love research and hope to continue that pursuit during your residency training, program directors in community-based programs might not think you’re a good fit for them. On the other hand, a completely generic statement of what you’re looking for in residency won’t appeal to anyone. How can you show your interest in specific programs without getting overwhelmed?
  • DO create multiple interchangeable versions of your personal statement While it’s unreasonable to suggest writing a different essay for every school, tailoring certain features in a limited number of essays can be a useful strategy. You might have one version for academic programs that emphasizes your future research interests, while your version for community-based programs leaves that line out and focuses on clinical opportunities. Or you might have a version for rural programs vs. urban, or for programs in your preferred geographic location vs. the rest of the country. ERAS allows you to save multiple versions that you can upload to certain schools – just be sure you give each one a unique name to keep them straight.
  • DO tailor your essay to your top program Do you have a dream program, one where you’re sure you’d be able to excel? If so, it’s well worth the extra time and effort to detail exactly why you want to rank it #1. This may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t take long to identify why you want to work with a specific researcher or continue learning where you had a great externship. Don’t underestimate the bonus points you can get for this approach. Tailoring your essay to their specific offerings demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested.
  • DON’T use all 28,000 characters for your personal statement ERAS permits 28,000 characters for your essay – around 7,000 words! – but no residency director wants to read even close to that much. Instead, stick to a one-page essay – usually 600-800 words – that addresses your key points. Your essay will be more effective if you’re more to the point and concise. In order to do that well, 
  • DO keep your purpose in mind As you write, remember that you’re trying to land an interview, not detail every aspect of your medical school training. If you throw in everything but the kitchen sink, your story will be generic and lack any impact. Instead, select the key experiences that led you to your chosen specialty, the details that will demonstrate your fit for it, and where you see your future contributions in this field.
  • DON’T submit without proofreading In their rush to submit, some applicants skip this step, only to later find a typo they’re unable to correct. To avoid this, take a break from writing – at least a few hours, or better yet, a day – before carefully proofreading your essay. Try reading aloud as you go along. Since your ear often picks up what your eye misses on the screen, you’ll be more likely to catch awkward phrases, repetitive sentences or ideas, or other glitches.
  • DO have someone else also read your essay Even after you’ve done your own quality control, your own writing is so familiar that it’s all too easy to miss a typo. You also want to ensure that the entire essay reads well, hitting the high points that are most important, and striking the right tone. Getting the all-clear from another reader will give you confidence that you are ready to submit!

You’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your journey. Now that you’re ready for your next achievement, make sure you know how to present yourself to maximum advantage in your residency applications. In a hotly competitive season, you’ll want a member of Team Accepted in your corner, guiding you with expertise tailored specifically for you. Check out our flexible consulting packages today!

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Residency Personal Statement - Download your copy today!

Related Resources:

  • From Example to Exemplary , a free guide to writing outstanding application essays
  • All You Need to Know About Residency Applications and Matching
  • M3 Journaling: How to Do it and How it Can Help Your Residency Application

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Personal Statement Guidelines

Guidelines for writing personal statements.

The Personal Statement should be personal and specific to you and your experience/s. The goal of the personal statement is so that reviewers can get to know you as unique applicant and what you will bring to the program and the field. Consider the following when putting together your personal statement.      

  • Never use another person or program to write your personal statement.
  • Never copy another individual’s personal statement. This is a violation of professional conduct and the Match.

Before you get started:

  • Some specialties may require that you have a separate personal statement for each program.
  • Some students will choose to make a common personal statement but modify a paragraph that is program or location specific.
  • Be sure to check with specialty and program requirements when drafting your personal statement.

General Tips :

  • Grammarly® is an example of a free online resource.
  • Stick to 1 page
  • Save these highlights for your interview or your noteworthy characteristics.
  • We recommend that you create your personal statements in a text file.
  • The way you create a text file is Click on 'Start' menu on the desktop, under 'All Programs' Click 'Accessories', Click 'Notepad'. Change the Font to Courier New 10 which is used by ERAS. Keep it to less than one-page single spaced with one-inch margins all around and spaces between paragraphs.
  • Do not use any special characters such as Bold, Italics, Underlines, &, ñ, µ, @,#,% etc.
  • You don’t want it to look too cluttered.

When you may need more than ONE personal statement :

  • If you are dual applying, you likely will need separate personal statements
  • For a preliminary program personal statement, you may consider a separate personal statement or modify the personal statement to include what you are looking for in a preliminary program.
  • You may consider personalizing a personal statement due to location, family, other circumstances. We recommend that you do this either early or at the end of the personal statement.
  • If you are deciding between two or more specialties, it is sometimes helpful to write a personal statement for each. If you cannot see the real differences among them, others who read your statements may be able to discover your true passion.
  • Label your personal statement files well so that you know which personal statement is being used for which specialty or program

Before drafting your personal statement, please use the information below to help you organize your thoughts :  

  • 2-3 paragraphs with a theme (see prompts below)
  • Final thoughts/projections forward

Suggested prompts for your personal statement might be : 

  • Why you chose this field? 
  • Personality traits
  • Experiences such as education, leadership, service, research, or volunteerism
  • Related hobbies, etc. 
  • A brief explanation of gap time particularly for research, dual-degree or certification and how you see this time as beneficial to your residency goals.
  • Some things of that nature might be best explained in your MSPE, if you wish.  Discuss this with the OSA dean writing your MSPE. 
  • Applicants can describe any challenges or hardships that influenced their journey to residency. This could include experiences related to family background, financial background, community setting, educational experiences, and/or general life experiences. This question is intended for applicants who have overcome major challenges or obstacles.
  • Some projection into your future, of both a professional and personal nature, if you wish. You may not want to be too specific about sub-specialty aspirations, though. People like to see an open mind. 
  • What you see as the next exciting things happening in your field of interest? How do you see yourself as part of them?

Common Pitfalls:

  • Avoid being a just list of reasons that you like the specialty
  • Balance being personal without overly revealing in these cases
  • If you don’t want to talk about a situation in your interview, it shouldn’t be in your personal statement
  • If you can’t talk about a situation without becoming overly emotional, you may want to brainstorm if that should be in your personal statement (remember this is a job interview)
  • If the description of your story is 1/3 of your personal statement, you are missing an opportunity to talk more about yourself.
  • AVOID: I disliked all other specialties till I rotated on XXX.
  • AVOID: I noticed that I didn’t really like the way XXX interacted with patients
  • AVOID: The patient was angry and non-compliant.
  • Run the risk of losing the reader’s attention

Final Thoughts :

  • Be specific in what you ask them to review (I.e. grammar, content, voice)
  • Faculty members in the type of program to which you are applying.
  • People who know you well, on whom you can count for honest feedback, and who can make any necessary corrections in syntax and grammar. 
  • Read your personal statement out loud to yourself- this is the best way to hear/find things that do not make sense grammatically or in syntax.

Additional Resources:

  • Personal Statement Worksheet
  • Personal Growth Program
  • Residency Application

The Top ERAS Personal Statement Requirements You Need To Know

Featured Expert: Dr. Michael Chung, MD

Unique ERAS Personal Statements

You’re tired, exhausted, spent; you don’t want to write another personal statement ever again, especially since ERAS personal statement requirements are different from medical school personal statement requirements, which means you have to write a completely new one. We get it. At this point in your journey, you already know things like how to choose a medical specialty , and whether you want to enter a family medicine residency or an internal medicine residency , but maybe your skills have been dulled by writing countless patient histories and physicals, which do not lend themselves to writing a personal statement (but they can, also). If that is the case, we can help you sharpen your writing skills, and give you strategies to mine your past and personal experiences that will make you a memorable candidate. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to master your ERAS personal statement, regardless of the specialty you are going into and hopefully get you in on your first try.

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

Article Contents 22 min read

Eras personal statement requirements.

Learning How to Write, Again

You are unique, but so is everyone else. That’s the challenge of getting into any professional program, whether medical school, a residency, law school or an MBA, how do you stand out from all these other unique individuals who have also graduated medical school and are now your competition? 

What are the most competitive and least competitive residencies? Find out in this video:

The answer is simple – your personal statement.

Your personal statement is a safe space for you to get out anything that motivates you, inspires you, troubles you, makes you scared, makes you angry, or gives you strength. But neither is it a confessional. If you talk about all those things, you have to talk about how you made those emotions real through your actions.

Your residency personal statement can be an outlet for all the things you experienced during school or clinical rotations that you made a mental note of but didn’t know how or where to express it.

The first time you heard a patient cry out in pain.

The first time you saw a baby born.

The first time you felt a pulse stop. 

How did all that make you feel? How did you react? How did it change you?

These are the things that all residency program directors want to know (but, not only).

A great personal statement should cover the future, as well as the past.

What will this residency program add to who you are, as a future physician, researcher, and overall person? And vice-versa, what will you add to it, and how?

These are also important questions to answer.

We don’t have to tell you how important a personal statement is; that fact has been drilled into you since you applied to medical school. You want to make a great first impression with your personal statement as it directly addressed to the residency program directors.

But, let’s be real. The best residency personal statement will not save an application that is poor or below average in other areas, such as having too low a GPA, too many failed courses, or lack of experiences.

Still, many residency programs do review applications holistically, meaning they look at all the aspects of your application, not just the metrics. So, what you need to know is how to be creative, how to develop a voice and style that is unlike any other.

Of course, this is not easy. It can take years of practice and writing to develop an unmistakeable and uncanny writing style.

But, hopefully, by the end of this article you will have discovered the following:

  • Learn how to write the why (you know why you want to enter this program, but how do you say it)
  • The differences between average writing and great writing
  • How to incorporate experiences, important events, emotions, people and other perspectives into your writing

Before we get to helping you find your voice, the ERAS system has a few requirements that you should know, which can help you format and structure your statement so you don’t go over the word length or use the wrong format. Word and page limits can seem daunting, like walls closing in on you. 

But they can actually be quite useful. Knowing you can only use a certain number of words should help you during the editing process, where the word limit will make you less afraid to remove words, sentences and paragraphs that you don’t need. But keep whatever you take out and use it in your interview or supplemental essays, if the program requires them.

The length of an ERAS personal statement is generally one page. In words, that’s about 500-600 words. The other format requirements include:

  • Write your statement in plain text in either Notepad (for Windows) or Text Edit (for Apple)
  • Write your statement directly into the online dialog box

These are all the technical ERAS personal statement requirements you need to know. But one thing we need to make clear, before we get to anything, is to give yourself a lot of time. You should start following these steps at least six months before you actually have to submit your application; taking into account all your rough drafts, rewrites, editing, asking for advice and letting others read your statement.

Now, let’s focus on how to start your personal statement, which can involve many different steps and strategies.

Finding Your Voice

You’re a smart, accomplished medical school graduate. We don’t have to explain what the ERAS is or how important it is, because you know all that. However, after years of working with hundreds of residency candidates like you, who we helped get into their programs, we know a thing or two about writing residency personal statements , and writing, in general.

And the first thing we want to say about writing an ERAS personal statement is:

Take the pressure off.

Think of writing your statement as seeing a friend or visiting a relative you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s an opportunity. You can finally say all the things you’ve bottled up inside or internalized from the four amazing and chaotic years you just had (longer, if you’re a non-traditional medical school applicant or took a gap year before residency ).

The pressure you and everyone else puts on you leads to panic and desperation. It leads to rushed, uninteresting, forgettable statements. It leads to cliches ( I’ve always wanted to be a doctor because I want to help people ). You don’t want that. The people reading your statement don’t want that. 

How do you take the pressure off?

Feel proud of all you’ve accomplished up to this point. You’ve done a lot! Look at your diploma, or a research project you participated in. Look over your old medical school personal statements and see how you have changed, and what is different about you now.

Let that give you the confidence you need to write confidently about all you’ve accomplished and all you still want to accomplish. But everything in moderation. Seeming arrogant or boastful is not good either.

Then, think about your failures. Pour water on all those cocky impulses by remembering when you completely failed your first block of exams or how an anatomy class left you in a haze of details you couldn’t remember.

This is you creating a voice. The good and bad. Complex, and interesting.

Working on your ERAS letter of recommendation?


After you’ve relaxed, and gotten into the right mindset, start thinking about what you want to write. 

There are a few basics you should cover in your statement, such as:

  • Why this program?
  • Why this specialty?
  • What makes you special, as a person, future resident, and physician?
  • What have you done to show your commitment to medicine, or this specialty?
  • Why medicine?

But here we return to the how . You know why you want to enter this residency (good reputation, expert faculty, etc.) but the trick is saying it in a meaningful and substantive way.

And here opinions differ.

Some suggest stating your reasons for wanting to enter the program right away in the opening or the second paragraph. But that method runs the risk of turning the rest of the statement into a recitation of your CV:

I want to join this residency because of this....

And here’s why...

We recommend beginning with a bit of your background first.

Talk about who you are (background; family); important moments in your life that made you choose medicine. Then talk about your progress; things you’ve learned (academically or personally) that have changed you; things that have influenced you to follow this branch of medicine, whether it be people, a class you took, a book, film, piece of music, or article you read.

Keep going forward in time until you reach the last few paragraphs where you tie everything together and state clearly and plainly why you are interested in this program, and what you would give to the program.

To recap, and this is optional, you can choose to use another outline:

  • Something interesting about yourself (opening)
  • Why medicine, or an “inciting incident” that made you choose medicine (second paragraph)
  • Show what you did because your specialty excites you or makes you curious
  • Talk about how the program reflects your interests, and how you connect to its mission

Start Writing

Then, start writing. Write anything and write often. Write. Every. Day.

Don’t fall into the trap of “waiting for inspiration” or “not feeling it today”. You have to sit down and spend all those uncomfortable hours in front of a blank page to write something great.

It’s good practice to help you develop a rhythm, style, and, discipline.

If you’re not sure what to write about, write about your firsts (first day of medical school, first biochemistry class, first interaction with a patient, etc.) When writing use active voice in the beginning and short sentences (here is where writing histories and note-taking will help you).

If you have a memory or first in mind, establish other details.

Where was it? Who was it with? What did it involve? What did you do?

Give the reader details that you remember and try to be as accurate as possible.

The more detail you include gives your readers insight into what you remember or think of as important (sounds, smells, colors) and that most importantly, you pay attention to detail; something extremely important in medicine.

And, at this point, don’t worry about word or page lengths.

Those don’t matter now. You can cut it all later. In fact, write more than the page or word count to give yourself a lot of material and then cut down later. The same way directors shoot hours and hours of film, only to whittle it all down to a few seconds.

With all this in mind, we’ll do something a little different. We’ll write a poor opening paragraph so you can compare your writing to something objectively bad.

We’ll provide the details like setting, people, and a short example to show what we mean.

The body of your statement is next. Referring to the questions above, it is in the body of your statement where you show, don’t tell. Just as Alice was about to mention her work organizing people to lobby Congress, in the middle of your statement is where can talk about a singular achievement, experience, person, event that put you on the path to this residency program. Since you have word limits, you usually want to talk about only one experience; you can mention other experiences in other statements you write to other programs or residency interviews .

But basically, you want the middle of your statement to be where you demonstrate how you’ve lived up to the ideals of the program you are entering; whether it was through opening a new line of investigation in a field of research. But don’t be lulled into thinking you have to mention something academic, scientific or related to medical science. You can talk about something personal that moved you – for example, in Alice’s case, it could be something like this:

I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started sharing what we all did to get cheaper insulin. Some people went all the way to Mexico, or Canada to get cheaper insulin. And some, unfortunately, choose not to get their medication because they simply couldn’t afford it. With the support of my group, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal level.

She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting so and that I should attend with my group. We all went to Washington, and it was during a break in one of the sessions when I started a conversation with a prominent endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito. When I told her I was in medical school, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes and endocrinology.

But we can cut this down.

I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started sharing thinking about what we could do to get cheaper insulin. what we all did to get cheaper insulin. Some people went all the way to Mexico, or Canada to get cheaper insulin. And some, unfortunately, choose not to get their medication because they simply couldn’t afford it. With the support of my group,. To cover all my bases, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal level.

She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting soon and that I should attend with my group. We all went to Washington, an In Washington, during a break in the session, I started a conversation with a woman who I later realized was a prominent endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito. When I told her I was in medical school. During our conversation, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes, endocrinology, and drug policy.

Of course, you won’t have this same exact experience. We are using this example to illustrate that it is better to show than to tell what you did, but your example could be something much smaller, but still, significant. Pull from anything you still remember vividly, preferably from your recent past, not from when you were a teenager or undergraduate.

Once you feel like you have relayed your passion and dedication to your specialty, then, you need to connect that passion to the program you are applying to. In Alice’s example, a single individual got her interested in NYU, but the final paragraphs should reveal what Alice has discovered on her own about the program, and what about it ultimately appeals to her.

You need to do the same. Research the program inside and out and take notes while you are researching. Jot down all the interesting facts and lines of research current residents are involved in or past residents did. At the end is where you also want to demonstrate a very important quality: humility.

Yes, you’ve accomplished a lot. You finished medical school and, in Alice’s case, you’ve shown your commitment to your field and improving lives, but you also want to talk about what you want to do after you finish your residency. What’s next? And here you can talk about what you still want to investigate, or how you plan to take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate something that interests you, or describe how you see yourself as a future physician. 

Let’s use Alice’s case:

NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued. I researched the program and found out that Dr. Capito was right, NYU Grossman hosts one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction in performed at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, and the thought of living in New York City, while following my interests to investigate how to revise the diagnostic criteria for juvenile diabetes, which does not take into account the rapid rise in childhood obesity that took place after these criteria was established, and what role socio-economic factors play into children developing diabetes, is something that appeals to me.

But let’s cut it down:

NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued. I researched the program and found out that Dr. Capito was right. I was delighted to read that NYU Grossman hosts one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction is performed at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, which is something that would aid my research in determining the socio-economic factors that play into children developing diabetes.

And then, for the finish:

No one in my family thought my brother would ever develop diabetes, and even though I was prepared to shoulder the burden for him and my parents, I want to discover ways to prevent diabetes in young children so it does not become a burden to anyone. I would like to improve diagnostic and management protocols to identify risk factors and ultimately reduce the number of children diagnosed with diabetes each year. By combining my personal experiences with my passion for research, I am confident that I will be at the forefront of advancing pediatric endocrinology and making significant contributions to the field.

Alice’s full, revised ERAS personal statement:

My younger brother’s diabetes diagnosis was my unofficial introduction into pediatrics. I was the one that had to take care of him. I was the one that had to inject him with insulin and show him how to inject himself, if necessary. I was the one who had to make sure that he stuck to his diet. I was the one that had to make sure we always had orange juice or other sugary foods in our house, just in case.

But I loved every minute of it. I felt good taking the burden off my parents who were busy at their respective jobs; my father, a construction worker; my mother, a hairdresser. However, as my brother and I grew into adulthood, he became more adept at taking care of himself, and I had already decided on a career in medicine. But when I was in medical school, I started to wonder what else I could do to help people with diabetes.

I did some research online and discovered that insulin is much cheaper in other countries for a variety of reasons. I learned that the exorbitant cost of insulin forces some diabetics to forego this life-saving medicine. Learning that made me feel like I had to do something. I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started thinking about what we could do to get cheaper insulin.

To cover all my bases, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal and regulatory level. She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting soon and that I should attend with my group to voice my concerns. In Washington, during a break in the session, I started a conversation with a woman who I later realized was an endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito.

During our conversation, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes, endocrinology, and drug policy. NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued.

I was delighted to read that NYU Grossman hosts both a top-notch pediatrics program but also one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction are done at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, which is something that would aid my research in determining the socio-economic factors that play into children developing diabetes.

I want to ultimately combine my interest in pediatrics with endocrinology to discover ways to prevent diabetes in young children. I would like to improve diagnostic and management protocols to identify risk factors and ultimately reduce the number of children diagnosed with diabetes each year. I feel that by combining my personal experiences with my passion for research, I am confident that I will be at the forefront of advancing pediatric endocrinology and making significant contributions to the field.

Total Word Count: 504

Total Characters (no spaces): 2,374

This example covers all the things that we talked about as essential in an ERAS personal statement:

  • A revealing opening
  • An inciting incident, although we introduced it in the opening
  • Showing, not telling
  • Explaining why you are interested in your field
  • Connecting your mission and skills with the program’s mission

But let’s write another applicant profile, and use the same formula to write about another program and candidate.

  • Don’t put any more pressure on yourself than you already feel; approach writing your statement calmly, and confident that you have the knowledge, experience, and writing skills to write a great statement.
  • Start as early as possible thinking about what you want to write about; write multiple drafts and let others read your work; but don’t let anyone write your statement for you.
  • Develop your writing skills by writing every day; make it a part of your routine; even a page or a few paragraphs is enough to make you feel like you did something.
  • For content, think about all your past experiences in medical school; think about things that made you feel real emotion (anger, shame, fear, joy) and focus on the details about that experience (who was involved? What happened? When did it happen? And, most importantly, how did it change you?)
  • Don’t use cliches; be original.
  • Put everything in context; or, put another way, make everything connect; don’t dwell on irrelevant details; mention the specific event, person, or experience and keep moving forward.

There aren’t many ERAS personal statement requirements for you to follow, but the point of writing your residency personal statement is explaining in rich, and concise detail, why you are interested in this specialty, program, and how you have prepared for it. You should write your statement relaxed and think of it in the same way you would an interview. Write as many drafts as possible and continue editing until you have a tight, coherent story.

Yes, but technically you are writing the personal statement for the residency program, it is only being uploaded to ERAS as part of your residency application, similar how you are asked to upload an AMCAS personal statement , but it has nothing to do with the service itself. But all residency programs ask for a personal statement, or letter of intent, in some cases, and you have to submit one.

The program you are applying to may have specific format or length requirements. Check with them to be sure, but if none is listed, try to aim for a maximum of 500 words or less.

You can talk about a lot of things in your ERAS personal statement, but you should focus on why you want to pursue your specialty, what you are looking for most in a residency program , why you want to train at this particular program, and what has influenced your decision to pursue both. You should focus on the time you spent at medical school and not go too deep into your past, unless its relevant to your choice of residency. Use your emotions, and experiences as stepping stones to talk about the actions you took to be an ideal residency candidate. 

Do not recite your research resume or residency CV ; do not disparage or speak ill of other specialties or programs; do not boast or be arrogant. Do not use unprofessional language. Do not talk in length about your past. Do not dwell on these events, but use them to move your narrative forward to a logical conclusion. 

Yes, it matters a lot. With that said, if your application is lackluster in other areas, a great personal statement may not (or may, you never know) won’t make much of a difference to the residency directors. However, if your application is otherwise stellar, a poorly-written personal statement can sink your chances. 

You should write a different personal statement for each program you apply to. Yes, that seems like a lot of work, but putting in the work to create new statements show dedication and passion and helps you improve your writing skills overall. 

No. If you think AI can help you write a residency statement, try using it and see what comes out. AI can only write according to the parameters you introduce. It does not have memories, experiences, and emotions. The best AI can give you is a generic, uninteresting blob of words that lacks the humanity all residency directors are looking for. The time and effort you put into humanizing an AI-generated statement could instead be put into writing it yourself, with a much better result. 

There are no set requirements other than typing your personal statement in plain text so you can transfer it to the online dialog box on the ERAS application. The format and content requirements are set by the program you want to enter, but they often center around questions such as, “ what do you hope to gain from our residency program? ” and similar questions about your goals and intentions. 

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Making Every Word Count: Tips for Meeting the ERAS Personal Statement Length Requirement

The ERAS ( Electronic Residency Application Service ) personal statement is crucial to your residency application. It provides a unique opportunity for residency applicants to showcase their personal experiences, motivations, and personal qualities to residency program directors. However, one of the challenges residency applicants often face is meeting the ERAS personal statement length requirement while effectively conveying their journey into internal medicine. Here are strategic approaches to creating a concise yet impactful personal statement that resonates, even incorporating personal statement examples and discussing elements like USMLE scores, fellowship programs, and additional documents.

Understanding the ERAS Personal Statement Length Requirement

The ERAS personal statement length requirement is 1 page or 750-850 words . This may seem like a lot of space, but it can be challenging to fit all your thoughts and experiences into one page. As of my last update in September 2021 , the character limit for the ERAS personal statement is 28,000 characters , including spaces. While it may seem ample, quality always trumps quantity. Ensuring that every word counts is crucial to convey your story effectively. Remember that you’re not obligated to use the total character limit.

Here are some tips to help you make every word count and meet the ERAS personal statement length requirement.

Crafting an Attention-Grabbing Introduction

Begin with a captivating anecdote or a thought-provoking question about your internal medicine journey. This initial engagement is essential, as it’s the first impression you’ll make on program directors. By immediately drawing readers in, you encourage them to read on with enthusiasm. If you require professional assistance in developing or enhancing your statement, seeking guidance from ERAS experts would be beneficial.

Identify Key Themes and Personal Experiences

Reflect on your personal experiences, achievements, and motivations that led you to pursue internal medicine. Choose key themes aligned with the specialty and your personal journey. Select two or three primary themes to focus on. These could be specific patient interactions, research projects, or personal struggles that sparked your interest. Align these themes with internal medicine and the residency program you’re applying to.

Tell Stories, Don’t List Accomplishments

Avoid a mere listing of accomplishments, including your experiences during medical school. Frame your achievements within narratives or stories. Detail challenges, how you overcame them, and lessons learned. Sharing emotions and thought processes adds depth and authenticity.

Use Vivid Language and Concrete Examples

Use clear and vivid language that appeals to a broader audience. Replace overly technical jargon with accessible terms. Employ concrete examples to illustrate your points. Rather than mentioning involvement in a research project during medical school, explain how you collaborated with a multidisciplinary team to implement a study with tangible outcomes.

Highlight Personal Qualities and Transferable Skills

Highlight personal qualities and transferable skills developed during medical school. Effective communication, leadership, teamwork, and adaptability are valued traits. Showcase how these qualities and abilities have been advantageous in various situations, emphasizing their relevance as you transition into internal medicine.

Link Experiences to the Internal Medicine Specialty Choice

Connect your experiences to your choice of internal medicine. Illustrate how your experiences during medical school and beyond have prepared you for the demands of this specialty. Articulate your passion for internal medicine and align it with your background, clarifying why you’re an ideal candidate for the residency program.

Showcase Self-Reflection and Growth

Demonstrate self-awareness and a commitment to growth. Discuss challenges faced during medical school and beyond. Highlight moments of personal and professional development. Program directors value candidates who recognize limitations and proactively seek self-improvement.

Incorporate Personal Statement Examples

Reviewing personal statement examples can offer insights into effective strategies. While your personal statement should be unique, these examples can inspire structure, content, and style. Ensure your final statement is entirely your own, authentic, and aligned with your experiences.

Consider USMLE Scores

While your personal statement isn’t the primary place to discuss USMLE scores, you can allude to how your experiences have prepared you for success in these exams. Keep the focus on your personal journey rather than making this a central point.

Address Cycle Fellowship Programs and Additional Documents

Be judicious if you’re considering cycle fellowship programs or including additional documents, such as research abstracts. Mention these elements if they directly contribute to your narrative. However, avoid overwhelming your personal statement with too many details. Maintain a clear and cohesive flow.

Edit and Revise Ruthlessly

Multiple rounds of editing and revision are essential. Set aside your draft for a fresh perspective before revisiting it. Eliminate redundancies, tighten sentences, and refine your narrative. Seek feedback from mentors, peers, or professionals for valuable insights.

Final Thoughts: Leave a Lasting Impression

Reiterate critical themes in your conclusion, leaving a lasting impression. Re-emphasize your passion for internal medicine, commitment to contributing positively, and readiness for the challenges ahead. Conclude with a sense of closure, inspiring program directors and leaving them eager to learn more about you. If you’re ready to take your ERAS application to the next level, explore our comprehensive guide on perfecting your application components. From mastering your ERAS CV, crafting a compelling personal statement, and making informed program selections, A Perfect Match: ERAS CV is designed to provide you with essential insights and strategies. Dive into the article to discover how these critical elements present your candidacy in the best light.


In conclusion, meeting the ERAS personal statement length requirement requires strategic crafting. You can create a personal statement that resonates with program directors by focusing on engaging introductions, meaningful themes, impactful stories, and clear connections to internal medicine. Remember that the goal is to present yourself as a dedicated, capable, compassionate future physician specializing in internal medicine while ensuring every word counts.

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eras personal statement tips

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 08/08/23

Are you planning on writing your personal statement for residency? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the process.

all about your residency personal statement graphic

The residency application personal statement is an essential part of applying to programs, but it can be intimidating. We get it. It can be challenging to write about yourself and your life experiences within 3,500 characters. We’ll cover everything you need to know about writing a powerful statement!

Get The Ultimate Guide on Writing an Unforgettable Personal Statement

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Importance of Your Personal Statement in a Residency Application

The importance of your personal statement in your application cannot be overstated. Yes, you have secured solid letters of recommendation from physicians and crushed your USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) .

However, your personal statement is the one component of your application where you can make a case for yourself and leave a lasting impression on program directors. 

Think about it this way: program directors receive thousands of applications From aspiring medical residents and review thousands of standardized, quantitative factors like grades and test scores across the board. They also read thousands of essays and want to see something that will pique their interest. 

Your personal statement is an opportunity to show program directors specific qualities that make you stand out and shine . Program directors want to know the person behind the stellar numerical achievements. 

They want to know that you will thrive, reach your greatest potential in their program, and continue to have an exceptional career as a leader in healthcare.

importance of residency personal statement

Because of how competitive programs can be, your writing may very well be the tiebreaker that leads to your acceptance into a top program over another applicant. 

While a strong personal statement might not compensate for low exam scores, a weak one will definitely hurt an otherwise strong application.

Residency Personal Statement Outline

Knowing what you should include in your personal statement will help you get started. Your statement should include and reflect on a combination of the following:

  • What draws you to medicine/your specialty?
  • The desirable qualities, attributes, and skill sets make you well-suited to a  program and will help you succeed.
  • Your long-term plans as a practicing physician after you complete your program. This can include what you hope to accomplish in your residency and your preferred setting.
  • What attracts you to a particular program, and how would it make you a good fit?

Ultimately, program directors are looking for residents who are the best candidates and colleagues to work with and train. Combining the above suggestions will give program directors a good sense of what having you on their team would be like.

What to include in your residency personal statement

3 Tips to Help You Start Writing

Here are three tips to help you get started! 

1. Consider Why You’re Pursuing a Particular Residency

Before you start your application personal statement, you should be clear on why the specialty you’ve chosen is the right one for you . Program directors want to know that you have a realistic idea of what the specialty entails. 

If your writing fails to convey solid, meaningful reasons for pursuing the chosen specialty, you will likely not be invited for an interview. Don’t hurt your chances by sounding disinterested in the field or focusing on superficial aspects of the specialty, like high salaries and benefits.

UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine urges you to “remember that this is your chance to focus on your medical career objectives, i.e., what specialty you'd like to go into and what your ultimate goals might be.” 

2. Brainstorm 

To begin drafting your personal statement, brainstorm. Brainstorming allows you the freedom to be creative and informal. When brainstorming, you do not have to worry about grammar, spelling, or editing. You want to write down your ideas and get your creative juices flowing. 

After you have a body of ideas, you can work on weaving one or several elements into a strong, concise narrative. 

3. Ask Yourself Questions 

The following questions will help you get started brainstorming ideas for your personal statement:

  • What first drew you to the specialty? 
  • What are your greatest qualities, and how have you demonstrated these qualities? Focus on a few desirable qualities for a medical professional during specialization.
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Name an experience, clinical or otherwise, that significantly impacted you. Why was the experience meaningful, and how did it change you?
  • What obstacle, challenge, or failure did you overcome, and what did it teach you about adversity?
  • When did you know you wanted to pursue your chosen specialty?
  • What is your most meaningful extracurricular activity?
  • Who are your role models? What qualities do they possess that inspire you to be like them? How does this translate in your chosen field?
  • What medical cause do you care about the most, and what led you to care about it?

Remember, brainstorming aims to put down everything you can remember with as much detail as possible without worrying about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or revisions. 

The more details you explore while brainstorming, the easier it will be to extract and expand upon the stories you want to tell.

How to Write An Amazing Residency Application Personal Statement

Now that you have completed your preliminary brainstorming, let’s review how to write a personal statement. Later in this guide, we will review samples of other applicants’ personal statements and analyze what makes them successful.

How to write a med school personal statement

Start With A Catchy Introduction 

A captivating introduction pulls the reader in and makes them want to read to the end. Your introduction should lead with detail. Don’t rely on platitudes, clichés, and vague language . 

One way to accomplish this is to have an anecdote or two in mind that will be the central focus of your narrative. Then, introduce that anecdote while being aware of both brevity and detail. 

Focus on Things That Aren’t on Your CV

The personal statement should never regurgitate what’s already on your CV. Instead, focus on important aspects about you, your experiences, and your qualities that do not appear on your CV.

For example, if you have a hobby that demonstrates personal growth over time, tell a story about it and tie it together with your goals.

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine suggests that if you want to repeat accomplishments, ensure they’re “relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.” 

Talk About You and Your Desirable Qualities 

Program directors want to get to know you as an individual and what you would bring to their program. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is important that your personal statement remains about you. 

Program directors often read narratives that include information about the program they already know and not enough information about the candidate. Shift your tone to reflect on what makes you desirable to the residency. 

When talking about your attributes, remember that quality is more important than quantity . Narrow your focus to one or two qualities, and work on incorporating them as part of your storytelling.

Make Use of Storytelling

Avoid generic and superficial declarative statements when you write about yourself and your desirable qualities. For example, don’t simply say, “I am empathetic and compassionate.” This is forgettable, and you will not stand out from all the other applicants. 

Instead, it is better and more memorable to show how you exhibited empathy and compassion by telling a story about a real event. Show, don’t tell. People will remember your name if you tell a great story.

Include What You Expect From a Residency Program 

Program directors want to know why you are pursuing their program and what you want to gain from the experience. Tie this in with nuanced details about what you have done to pursue your particular interests and how your interests will align with what the program offers. 

How will your interests and goals support their mission? What specific strengths will you add or hope to cultivate? Again, the focus should be on you and your expectations, not on over-explaining a program to its directors. 

Cite Strong Reasons to Choose a Particular Specialty

Clearly outline your interest in a particular specialty. Program directors want to know your understanding of and interest in a specialty. Highlight what you have done in your career to explore a specialty and detail some of your insights and observations. 

Perhaps you’ve researched the length of the residency and were swayed by it. Or you were intrigued by the nature of another one. The more details you can provide, the more persuasive you will be. 

For example, you might like acute care in emergency medicine but try to be more specific than that. What do you enjoy about the diagnoses and pathologies involved in emergency medicine? What do you enjoy about the patients in your care? What do you enjoy about the setting in which you will practice?

Include Your Personal and Professional Achievements 

Your achievements should demonstrate personal and professional growth over time. Your unique personal or professional achievement may not be listed on your CV. The personal statement is where you can delve into those exceptional and distinctive details about yourself that will set you apart from the crowd. 

Always uphold your credibility by being honest and authentic. People will pick up on subtle cues of inauthenticity. Remember, you don’t have to use your personal statement to convince someone of how perfect you are because perfection doesn’t exist. 

For example, if you achieve something with a group of colleagues, give credit where it’s due and don’t take the credit all for yourself. Remain true to who you are and the experiences you’ve had thus far. You don’t need to embellish or dramatize them to impress program directors. 

They’re looking for someone reliable, credible, and genuine.

Address Areas of Improvement on Your Application 

If anomalies are anywhere in your application, such as gap years or leaves of absence, address them with a brief explanation. You don’t need to dwell on areas that need improvement, and you shouldn’t provide long explanations or be defensive. 

It’s more important for your readers to see that you faced hardship but took steps to overcome it.

Deliver a Strong Closure

Lastly, end your statement with a punch. Don’t lose steam. Succinctly and naturally wrap up your story. You don’t want to end with a weak declarative statement like, “And that’s why I would be a great resident.” 

Instead, try to deliver a callback to your introduction and include the imagery and insights that bring everything together.

5 Things to Avoid in Your Personal Statement

There are certain things that you should avoid in your personal statement. As a rule of thumb, avoid topics and language that risk alienating your readers. Be aware of the following:

1. Acronyms and Jargon 

Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. Don’t assume that your reader knows everything. Be courteous and spell everything out. According to The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), “If there’s a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, use it.” 

2. Poor Writing Mechanics

Avoid informal, casual writing and poor sentence structure. Be professional and ensure your writing is free of grammatical and spelling errors. You don’t want programs to be distracted by errors while they read your story! 

3. Controversial Topics 

Avoid controversial topics like ethical issues, religion, and politics. You don’t want to make polarizing or offensive statements, so don’t cross the line. Even if the statements you make aren’t offensive, there’s no guarantee the person reviewing your application will agree with you. 

4. Rehashing Why You Want to Be a Doctor 

Avoid going into the origin story of why you wanted to become a doctor. You are not applying to medical school, so your personal statement should reflect deeper insights that support your professional and personal experiences. UCSF’s Office of Career & Professional Development offers this advice : 

“Presumably, new things have happened in the past four years that inform your decision to choose your specialty or career path, or that illustrate your dedication, leadership, and teaching skills, ability for empathy, etc.” Use these new experiences in your statement! 

5. Using Vague/Generic Language

Avoid vague and generic language. The most seasoned writers draw readers in with rich detail and nuance. Using descriptive language makes your statement easier to read and is much more likely to keep the reader’s attention. 

With these tips, you should be able to write your personal statement with ease.

Mistakes to avoid in a residency personal statement graphic

Get Professional Help Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

residents talking

Contrary to popular belief, writers don’t need to hole up in a dark room, slouch over a messy desk, hit a wall with writer’s block, and suffer in solitude. Ask for help! Even the world’s bestselling authors need editors. 

Your storytelling ability and writing skills will only improve when you receive editorial feedback from trusted professionals. Getting professional help on writing your narrative will get you closer to being accepted at your first-choice program.

Inspira Advantage is here for you. We are an admissions consulting firm with extensive experience helping candidates get accepted to their dream programs. An expert residency application consultant can ensure you get the support you need at every step while you write and edit your personal statement.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

​​Reading examples of residency personal essays that program directors consider effective is advantageous. Not only will you gain insight into how to structure your writing, but you will also learn why program directors and career advisors find certain personal statements more successful than others. 

We’ll review two good personal statement examples below. Please note that both have been anonymized to protect the authors’ privacy. 

Residency Personal Statement Example 1

Here is an ERAS sample personal statement: 

One of my most formative memories of medical school was a patient high-fiving me. A seemingly minute detail, that moment came as a culmination of spending hours with a neurologically devastated patient. At the young age of 40, he was unable to speak or even interact with any of the dozens of healthcare workers at his bedside every day. I felt helpless, yet compelled to spend my time talking and reading to him, and urging him to do simple things like turning his head. He suddenly dramatically improved, and it peaked when he gave me a high-five during rounds, after I had playfully asked for one every day for three weeks. In that moment, I felt elation that he was able to lift his arms and regain some ability and autonomy. Pride, in the healthcare system that I had chosen to be a part of. And surprise, that he had been hearing and processing my words all this time when he had given no indication of doing so. On that last day before transfer to a rehabilitation facility, he hung onto my arm and sobbed “thank you” while refusing to let go. I was so impacted by this patient because for such a long time, he was unable to communicate his wants and needs to the outside world. 

I believe medicine is the most fundamental form of equity and equality – ensuring someone’s health is the most elemental way to ensure justice for their being. As physicians, we are inherent agents of change, on both an individual and community level. I want to bring this to people all around the world – those desperately fighting just to survive and whose voices are not being heard. Global health is my calling – a consummation between my interest in humanity and my desire to heal historical traumas. This came as a lifelong dream after growing up on both the East Coast and Midwest, having been surrounded by large immigrant and refugee populations. My vested interest in global health has been reaffirmed through my experiences rotating at a children’s hospital in [city], Ghana, and taking trainings and courses aimed at decolonizing global health. Both in and out of my passion for global health came a natural attraction to med-peds. Both medicine and pediatrics have always drawn me in as they both afford me the opportunity to provide holistic care – fitting the puzzle pieces between physical, mental, and social health. Med-peds will also help me become the best trained and most adaptable physician for anyone, womb-to-tomb, in local and global medicine due to the vast fund of knowledge I will develop. 

One reason I best fit with med-peds is my adaptability and persistence. I have faced setbacks in my academic career, the biggest of which was after I failed a course during my second year and had to retake the semester. During a hiatus, I pursued independent sociology courses to expand my knowledge base. In the new semester, I developed new study techniques to truly learn medicine instead of just memorizing it. This experience helped me form a cycle of analyzing, changing, and re-examining the way I learn in different scenarios; I built on that methodology repeatedly as modes of learning changed, as evidenced by my step exam scores. I learned the value of reaching out, and I strived to become that person to lean on for my peers going through similar hardships. I am also proud that despite flaws in my test-taking acumen that I have worked on during my later years of medical school, I have always been able to readily apply my medical knowledge in the wards and clinics in a way that is reflected by my patient care. 

Furthermore, I see multiple sentiments of the med-peds community reflected in myself. Med-peds folk are mobilizers of change, always creating life-changing and systemic reforms – ideals to which I fiercely relate. I have done my best to embody the amplification of voices that I have seen so vigorously amongst my med-peds mentors both on an individual and community level. To that end, I have always prided myself on being a strong advocate for patients and acting as a loudspeaker for their voices. On a broad level, I started an organization early in my medical training called [organization name] which aims to alleviate food insecurity in [city], which has a complex racial history causing countless food deserts. I have been excited and proud to help [organization] partner up with local organizations and the student-run free clinic to expand access to nutritious foods. I learned to engage with religious and community leaders in [city] to build strong community relationships to sustain change. To address upstream causes, I am starting a voter registration drive for patients in my institution’s safety net med-peds clinic. These experiences taught me the strategy and logistics of organizing systemic changes and enlightened me to people’s powerful stories. 

I picture myself practicing a mix of both hospitalist medicine and primary care to adapt to any low-resource community. I want to establish continuity of care amongst those who need it most while also managing higher acuity situations. After rotating in Ghana, I hope to pursue a fellowship in global health after completing my residency. My first-hand experience exposed me to the unique conditions of disenfranchised nations that are not readily discussed in the US. I hope to utilize fellowship training to gain the critical knowledge and translational skills required to establish the greatest benefit. All in all, I am excited to use my experiences and skills to provide care to every type of patient, especially in low-resource settings. I am committed to amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised and helping navigate the difficult road towards better, more equitable healthcare. If, in the process, those voices come in the form of more high-fives, I would not complain.

Residency Personal Statement Example 2

Here is another example: 

It was not even the end of the first week of medical school, and I was fighting for my life — and the life of others. On September 19th 2017, Hurricane Maria hit and battered the Island of Dominica. I woke up the next day from a concussion after being thrown 20 feet in the air during the storm. This once lush island was reduced to brown sticks, live wires, and broken glass. I survived the storm, but the destructive aftermath was our new reality. 

During the evacuations and rescue missions, I solidified my purpose to become an Emergency Medicine physician. I joined the [EMS name], which was the only organized medical personnel available. One of my most inspiring experiences was the emergency medical evacuation of a six-month-old girl. This patient was an infant with untreated pneumonia. She came in with respiratory distress to our pop-up clinic at 1am. The child was assessed by the only physician on the island and her prognosis was poor, she was unlikely to survive the night. As a student, I realized that in these critical moments I want to be the first responder to aid and to make the best decisions for the patient. She needed to be on a ventilator, and we did not have the facilities or equipment to help the child, only the capacity to provide supplemental oxygen. With limited resources, we had to secure the airway if needed, and I was given the role to disinfect plastic tubing left on the ground. As we provided supportive care, we also organized the logistics of the medical evacuation – from security to cleaning a landing zone for the helicopter. As the helicopter finally arrived at 3am, the sign of relief was clouded by the debris inadvertently thrown towards us during the landing. Despite the difficulties, all team members were safe, and we were finally able to get the patient to a definitive center of care.  

To work in medicine, one must be able to function in a team. This event gave me first-hand experience of coordination of care. I was a part of this team for the little girl and learned the importance of delegating tasks, cooperation among members, and having defined goals. Moreover, I was tested to perform under pressure and think clearly. I have been able to translate these skills as I have moved forward with my education, always considering my responsibilities within a team in order to provide the best care. We found out that the little girl survived, and I could not help but feel relieved that our efforts were successful. At times, there is not always the end result that is hoped for however, it is important to persevere and act for the benefit of the patient. These challenges faced during the hurricane also reaffirmed my desire to address the needs of the population during emergency situations. I was exposed to making quick, yet thoughtful decisions in order to produce the best plan of action. These attributes are integral for patient care in the emergency room and I hope to continue to develop these skills as an emergency medicine physician.  

As my medical school journey continued, I experienced another challenge – completing my studies on a boat. We had no internet and there was limited space. I learned to cohabitate with four students in a 20 square foot living arrangement. We were docked at [country] during the night, but the school was at sea for four months during the days and we as a school were then displaced to various locations to complete our preclinical studies including [multiple cities]. The difficulties unfortunately continued, with the pandemic occurring at the start of my clinical rotations. The adversities of my limited learning environment did affect my academic performance and impeded me from participating in research opportunities. I struggled with trying to reset my foundational knowledge and had to repeat my third semester. Unfortunately, I shared similar setbacks in my USMLE step 1. I knew that my results did not reflect my abilities to become a clinician. I adapted and made appropriate changes in order to better my scores. I worked on expanding my medical knowledge by attending workshops, study groups, and taking extra time after class to talk to my professors in order to better understand the more complicated concepts. As a result, my clinical acumen improved. I strengthened my time management skills allowing me to study more efficiently, which proved successful as I bettered my Step 2 scores. I have learned how to study well despite distractions and this will be of benefit to me as a future physician.  

I did not have the conventional education as others, however the experiences that I encountered molded me into the individual I am today. My desire to help others brought me to the Ukrainian refugee camps as they faced a desperate humanitarian crisis during the war. I was drawn to volunteer this summer in [city] and joined the [organization name] to provide medical services to displaced civilians I wanted to improve people’s well-being through community healthcare services, medical care, and mental support. Having had my own experiences with disaster and crisis, I provided much needed empathy for those people who sensed that they have lost control of their livelihood. Being able to provide support and healthcare to this disenfranchised group of people was extremely gratifying. I continue to expand on my medical knowledge through my involvement in relief efforts and through my clinical education. I have learned to manage the external stressors of my environment, along with my academic deficiencies, by refocusing my efforts into robust translational skills. It is an important facet in my practice to take care of the welfare of the individual. Emergency Medicine would enable me to do so, providing a solid foundation to continue involvement in public health affairs and ability to impactfully respond to relief efforts. 

Medicine is a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and languages. To know that someone is there to help you in your time of need, you do not have to understand the language they are speaking to feel that impact. Emergency medicine truly has no borders. The “ER” is a centralized area of care. However, as an emergency medicine physician, I will be able to apply my knowledge outside the walls of the hospital to the rest of the world. I want to be that healing hand, to help as many lives as I can – whether it be in global health or in my surrounding community. With Emergency Medicine, I can achieve that and protect those who need help the most. I hope to continue to pursue opportunities for community aid and patient advocacy as an effective first line of care. I want to not only be able to identify life-threatening conditions, but have the capacity to treat patients and provide access to the appropriate avenues for their continued care. I will always strive to be someone who runs towards people in need, never away. 

More Sample Residency Statements

Looking for more personal statement samples that worked? These medical schools also have examples: 

  • University of California – San Francisco 
  • University of Alabama School of Medicine 
  • University of Nevada School of Medicine 

You can view these statements to better understand the tone and format programs look for.

If you still have questions about writing your personal statement, check out these frequently asked questions. 

1. Is It Better to Cover All My Relevant Experiences, or Should I Discuss a Few in Particular?

When in doubt, quality over quantity. You should always aim to focus on one or two themes and include a few experiences in particular. Never sacrifice depth and detail just to accommodate quantity. If you write about all your relevant experiences, their significance will get lost in trying to compete for attention in a limited space. 

It looks better to hone in on key experiences and provide depth, self-reflection, and nuance. Your CV should list all your relevant experiences, not your essay.

2. Do I Have to Write a Personal Statement for Every Residency Program I Apply to?

No, you should not write a different personal statement for every program you apply to, but you should write one for every specialty. For example, prepare one for family medicine and one for emergency medicine. 

You do not have to completely rewrite personal statements for each specialty—you can use elements that will work across the board, like introductory or concluding sentences. Use your best judgment of what will work as a template, then tailor your personal statement for every specialty. 

3. I’m Applying to Multiple Specialties. Is There a Limit on the Number of Personal Statements I Can Upload?

No, there is no limit to the number of personal statements you can upload. Your writing should be tailored for the specific specialty.

4. How Long Should a Residency Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement can vary depending on the specific requirements of the program or institution to which you are applying. However, as a general guideline, most programs recommend that essays be approximately one page long.

Typically, a one-page personal statement consists of around 750 to 850 words. Your writing should be concise, focused, and well-structured to effectively communicate your experiences, motivations, and qualifications.

Final Thoughts

Writing a residency application personal statement is stressful, but our step-by-step guide will make the process much easier as you navigate your application timeline . Now go forth and match into the residency program of your dreams. We believe in you.

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The Perfect Personal Statement ERAS: Your Ticket to Residency

eras personal statement tips

Some Reflections on the Importance of Personal Statement ERAS

There are several fundamental opinions on compiling various applications. Some believe that a good personal statement ERAS is one of the most critical parts of your application package and this makes the difference between getting the desired confirmation or rejection. Another opinion is that although it is an integral part of admission, this is not what is too much to rely on, as the committees do not review these papers as closely as people think.

The truth is always in the middle, and the most important thing to get from these two opinions is that your document should be good. Why? Because in any case, your application will be viewed, and if it is, so to say, standard and will meet all requirements of the format, it will not cause any questions and perhaps be able to draw attention to your candidacy and add you a couple of points. But if you think writing an ERAS personal statement is just a formality and you can ignore some requirements, this will certainly pay attention. And here you can be sure it will become a problem.

Therefore, it is better to put aside thinking and philosophizing about the importance of personal application and do everything as it should and correctly.

Where to Start Your ERAS Personal Statement

Let’s start with the basics and briefly explain or remind you what ERAS is, who uses it, and how to prepare your personal statement for ERAS on this platform to benefit from it.

ERAS is an electronic residency application service, through which you submit all the necessary documents for ERAS® residency applicants and can receive feedback on the status of your application. It streamlines the application process by allowing applicants to simultaneously submit their materials, including applications, to multiple programs. But where do you start when it comes to preparing your personal statement ERAS?

  • Oddly enough, the hardest part is getting started. Put away the fear of a blank slate and transfer your thoughts to a draft. Think about the qualities making you a unique and attractive candidate. Identify key moments or encounters which ignited your passion.
  • Then do thorough research on the programs of your interest. Become familiar with the missions, values, and desired qualities of applicants. This knowledge will help you tailor your application to meet their expectations and demonstrate your appropriatness for their program.
  • Also, seek feedback and advice from mentors, professors, or health professionals who can offer valuable advice and guidance. Engage in self-reflection and brainstorming to organize your thoughts and ideas.

By beginning your preparation with self-reflection, research, and seeking recommendations, you will be well on your way to writing a compelling personal statement and demonstrating your unique qualities to residency programs.

Regarding the logical question about ERAS personal statement how to submit it we can note the following. Applications are submitted through the MyERAS Personal Application, a secure online platform that simplifies the residency application process and gives candidates a clear understanding of deadlines and requirements.

Optimal ERAS Personal Statement Length

This is quite a contra version that causes a lot of debate among future residents. Namely, a lot or a little volume is allocated to writing the application.

The standard ERAS personal statement length is usually about one page. This is sufficient to convey your motivations, experiences, and goals objectively and clearly while ensuring that your text is concise and focused. It is important to adhere to these length guidelines, as exceeding the recommended ERAS personal statement word count can lead to your work being ignored or marked as unsuccessful.

On the other hand, a personal statement ERAS length which is too short, can give the impression that you have nothing to say about yourself and lack the necessary qualities. Strike a balance between sufficient detail and brevity to maximize the impact of your statement on ERAS.

How Long Should ERAS Personal Statement Be?

As we said earlier, your personal statement should fit on one page. When it comes to the ERAS personal statement character limit, it has remained the same. Your application should be no less than 750 and no more than 900 characters.  It is important to follow these length guidelines as closely as possible. Note, the documents with excessive word count will be shortened automatically or may be canceled.

General ERAS Personal Statement Requirements

While most of the ERAS requirements relate to the formatting and length of submissions, it is also important to consider the specifics of your submissions. The system is not as strict on the context of a personal statement , but the quality of it is essential, first of all, to attract the attention of admissions committees and your success.

Your personal statement ERAS should present a compelling narrative that demonstrates your passion, highlights your relevant experience, and highlights your unique qualities as a candidate. Be clear and concise in your self-presentation, ensuring your ideas flow logically and coherently. Also, emphasize your personal growth and the lessons you’ve learned along your medical journey. Use specific examples to highlight your strengths and show how those experiences influenced your decision to apply for residency.

eras personal statement

Common Mistakes to Avoid

The text of the ERAS personal statement is not too long and does not take more than a page, but even in this small field, you can make many mistakes that prevent you from getting the desired result.

  • Lack of focus: Don’t try to cover too many topics and instead focus on a few key impressions or qualities.
  • Poor structure: A disorganized and ignoring ERAS personal statement formatting structure can make your application’s narrative difficult to follow. Provide a logical flow, using paragraphs and transitions to make your message coherent.
  • Generic content: General statements lacking personalization and examples of personal experience may not be memorable. Instead, emphasize the unique skills and knowledge set you apart from other candidates.
  • Grammatical errors and typos: Neglecting to proofread your personal statement can undermine your professionalism and leave poor impression.

Requirements Regarding ERAS Personal Statement Formatting

The platform imposes strict requirements not only on the ERAS personal statement word limit but also has strict formatting requirements.

  • Font and size: Use a clear and legible font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. The recommended font size is usually 10-12 points to ensure readability.
  • Alignment and spacing: Left-align the text and use single spacing. Avoid using extra spacing between paragraphs or lines, as this can make your narrative look disjointed or elongated.
  • Paragraph structure: For better readability, divide your ERAS personal statement into paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific topic or idea; a blank line is recommended for visual separation between paragraphs.
  • Special characters and formatting styles: Avoid using special characters, symbols, or formatting styles (bold, italic, underline) in your statement. Stick to plain text (ASCII) formatting to ensure compatibility with various systems.

Remember also, that you need not only to know how long should ERAS personal statement be but also to ensure it’s free from any inconsistencies, grammatical errors, or typos. So proofread your application several times before and after formatting.

Red Flags Residency Personal Statement to Consider

Indeed you have already read a lot of expert advice and recommendations regarding creating a personal statement ERAS. And you know that there should be no lies, exaggerations, and deceit here. The same applies to red flags, which intimidate most applicants:

  • Lack of reflection and growth, e.g., if more than 5 years have passed from graduation to application, this is already a red flag.
  • Any academic gaps for several years related to your chosen major.
  • Negative attitudes, including bad experiences, past job failures, or toxicity to former colleagues.
  • Lack of connection to the program, e.g., lack of appropriate educational background or failure to demonstrate a genuine understanding of a particular program’s possibilities.
  • Lack of professionalism – such as clinical experience in the United States, essential to have while applying to U.S. residencies.

These ones are the most common red flags residency personal statement that most applicants want to hide. However, you should not do it. Instead, you must try to explain your position, turning your red flags into your zest.

Get Professional Help From Admission Experts

The requirements and features of eras applications are only easy for those who have processed hundreds of them, so it’s normal for you to need expert feedback or support. No matter what reason you need assistance with, whether it’s a desire to sort out red flags or the pursuit of perfectionism regarding ERAS personal statement requirements, our writing professionals are here to lend a helping hand 24/7.

With vast experience and a thorough understanding of all the nuances of the admission process, our writers are ready to work on your application, turning an ordinary document into an outstanding personal statement ERAS that will lead you to victory.

Leave all doubts behind and rely on us. Just a couple of lines asking for help, and all your writing issues will be solved!

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Veterinary Residency Personal Statement

Veterinary programs require a lot of strengths as well as anesthesiology residency programs. First things first, it is necessary that you know what would you expect after finishing veterinary residency, or best to say once you are a professional veterinarian. It is not all about loving animals, but the responsibility is a lot more to that. […]

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Cardiology Personal Statement – Another Crucial Step Toward Your Goal A cardiology fellowship program is nothing but a chance for passionate applicants to move to the next level and become better specialists. However, a cardiology personal statement is a major obstacle between candidates and their place in a desired institution. It’s an essential document, showcasing […]

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Taylor Swift fans fear missing Sydney Eras Tour concert after flight cancellations

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Severe storms in and around Sydney on Friday (23 February) resulted in flight cancellations and delays , causing anxiety and disappointment for Taylor Swift fans travelling to the Australian city for the latest leg of the singer’s Eras Tour.

Hours before Swift was due to begin her three-hour marathon set, the first show of a four-gig stint, bad weather led to Airservices Australia, the country’s government aviation agency, limiting the number of Sydney arrivals and departures. As a result, several airlines delayed and cancelled flights, with some Swift fans unable to attend the gig on Friday evening.

That evening, Swifties were briefly evacuated from two areas of Sydney’s Accor Stadium, due to the severe storm weather. This resulted in a delay to the start of the show, with support act Sabrina Carpenter having to skip her set.

🚨| The floor and lower bowl are currently being evacuated due to lightning strikes nearby the stadium at today's show of Taylor Swift's 'The Eras Tour' in Sydney, Australia. Please stay safe and seek shelter for now #SydneyTSTheErasTour — The Eras Tour (@tswifterastour) February 23, 2024

Qantas, which had four flights affected, said in a statement that an Airbus A380 would carry 485 passengers from Melbourne to Sydney to try to mitigate the impact of the cancellations.

The airline said: “While this would normally be used to support our international network on flights to places like London and LA, given the incredibly high demand into Sydney today, it is being brought in to support the domestic operation.”

The airline added that, as the customers affected were originally travelling on three separate flights departing from 4pm onwards, it was unlikely that any Swifties travelling for the Friday night concert would have been impacted. A fourth flight was also cancelled, with those customers re-accommodated on other Qantas services on Friday.

Airservices Australia, the country’s government aviation agency, told the Guardian that it was “delighted to be assisting our key customer Qantas in ensuring Swifties can get to Sydney before the inclement weather impacts the airport.

“Airborne and ground delays are expected. It is recommended that passengers reach out to their airlines.”

Another airline, Jetstar, isssued a travel alert onFriday warning that flights might be affected by the bad weather. The airline said that they would contact customers whose flights were impacted.

In a statement to the Guardian, Jetstar said that it had added two extra flights from Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday morning and was offering free changes to earlier or alternative flights from other airports.

“We’re doing everything we can to get affected customers on their way as soon as possible,” Jetstar said.

Virgin said that it was trying to let customers know any updates but added that guests should check their flight status, the outlet reported.

The delays have caused anxiety for some Taylor Swift fans with tickets to the Sydney shows. One fan told ABC’s Brisbane Breakfast radio show that she had to spend AS$700 (£360) on last-minute flights when her travel plans were dashed on Friday.

“I woke up this morning to an email from Virgin saying that my flight this afternoon had been cancelled,” she said.

She was rebooked onto a flight for Sunday, but her concert tickets were for the Saturday night show, she said, according to

“I’ve had to rebook flights with Qantas for tomorrow morning for pretty much double the price of what I originally paid for them,” she said.

A couple from Queensland also experienced flight woes, saying that they felt like they were in a “broken dream” after missing out on Swift’s Friday concert.

The couple told 7News said that when their Virgin flight was cancelled, they booked another to Sydney via Brisbane. After driving three hours to the airport they discovered that the Brisbane leg of the journey was delayed, meaning they would miss their connection to Sydney. The reason for the delay, the airline told the couple, was “crew rest”, they said.

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Tips for Using the MyERAS® Portal

  • The ERAS® program will not collect or process any applicant documents. Supporting documents are received and processed by your Designated Dean’s Office. LoRs must be uploaded by the LoR Author or their designee via the ERAS Letter of Recommendation Portal (LoRP). 
  • To begin using the MyERAS portal, residency and fellowship applicants must obtain an ERAS token from their Designated Dean’s Office. 
  • The EFDO is the Designated Dean’s Office for all fellowship applicants, including graduates of U.S. and international medical schools.  
  • To begin using the MyERAS portal, fellowship applicants must obtain an ERAS token from the EFDO. 
  • Refer to the Applicant Data and LoR Import sections to understand what material the ERAS program retains for use in subsequent seasons. Make sure to certify and submit your application before the season closes if you would like to import your application and/or certain supporting documents. 
  • The ERAS program does not set application deadlines or requirements for programs because they are set and communicated by individual programs. You are advised to contact programs directly for deadlines and program requirements. 
  • You must certify and submit your MyERAS application before you can apply to programs. 
  • Once you have certified and submitted your application, you will not be able to make any changes to your application outside the information contained on the Personal Information section of the MyERAS application as well as the personal statement. For example, the NRMP® ID is listed in the Personal Information section. As a result, it can be updated even after certifying and submitting the application. 
  • For LoRs, you must add and confirm letter of recommendation entries. When you confirm an entry, the system will generate a personalized Letter Request Form, which you will need to provide to the LoR Author. You can provide the Letter Request Form to the author via email, postal mail, fax, or in person since a PDF version of the form can be downloaded. 
  • Once you have released your USMLE and/or COMLEX-USA transcript, assigned it to programs and paid the transcript fee, the ERAS program will send your transcript requests for those programs to the NBME, ECFMG (for IMG applicants), or NBOME for processing. 
  • Exam transcript requests are usually processed on the same day, but under special circumstances, it can take up to 5 business days from the date of your request for exam score transcripts to be processed and made available to programs. When new transcript scores are uploaded, the most recent upload date will display in the MyERAS portal. 
  • When searching for programs in the MyERAS portal, if a program has a status other than participating, you should contact the program directly about their participation status with the ERAS program. Be sure to follow due diligence and research your programs even if they have marked themselves as participating. 
  • Some programs have state work authorization requirements to which they must adhere. Contact the programs directly to find out their requirements before you apply. 
  • Remember to check the Message Center for important communications from programs or your Designated Dean’s Office in regard to your application and documents. 
  • Remember to check the Assignments Checklist to ensure that your documents are assigned and sent properly to the programs to which you have applied. 

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Brandi Glanville’s lawyers blast Andy Cohen’s claim that ‘sexual harassment’ video was a ‘joke’

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Brandi Glanville’s lawyers Bryan Freedman and Mark Geragos are not buying Andy Cohen’s excuse that an “inappropriate” video the Bravo exec sent the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” alum was a “joke.”

“Any boss who is clearly inebriated and encourages their employee by FaceTime video, and invites the employee to watch their boss to have sex with another employee, constitutes sexual harassment, plain and simple, under any definition of sexual harassment even one concocted by NBC,” the Los Angeles-based attorneys tell Page Six in a statement Friday.

“Why is Andy Cohen getting a pass? Any other supervisor at Comcast/NBC who engaged in this behavior would be fired immediately on the spot.”

Brandi Glanville.

Freedman and Geragos claim that NBC has “mistakenly given” Cohen “too much power” by allowing him to host reunions and his own talk show, alleging the network has “clearly decided that he is too big to fail.”

They add there was “no excuse” for Cohen to say the video he sent Glanville “was a joke.”

“In fact, if it was such a known joke, then why did he apologize?” Freedman and Geragos ask. “The reason is that Andy knows he is in a position of power which allows him to control where and how much Brandi works, which allows him to do whatever he wants and behave in a fashion that is abusive and harassing.”

The Freedman & Taitelman LLP co-founder and Geragos & Geragos managing partner conclude in their remarks, first reported by the Daily Beast Friday, “NBC has learned nothing from the cover-up at NBC News. Just like Matt Lauer , Andy Cohen makes too much money for Bravo to fire. NBC continues to protect those in power.”

Page Six has reached out to reps for NBCUniversal and Cohen but did not immediately hear back.

Andy Cohen speaking into a microphone.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells us exclusively, though, that “anyone who has seen the video can tell it’s clearly a joke.” Page Six has yet to obtain a copy of the clip in question ourselves.

We broke the news Thursday that Freedman and Geragos had fired off a legal letter to network executives at NBC, Warner Bros. and one of the production companies behind “Housewives” Shed Media, claiming that many of their staffers — including Cohen — had engaged in sexual misconduct.

The attorneys claimed that the “Watch What Happens Live” host, 55, in particular, sent Glanville, 51, a video of himself in 2022 appearing “obviously inebriated” and inviting the reality star to watch him have sex with another Bravolebrity.

Andy Cohen.

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The identity of the latter was not disclosed but Cohen revealed in his response that the person he said he wanted to sleep with “in jest” was “Below Deck” star Kate Chastain.

Chastain has not responded to Page Six’s requests for comment and has not spoken out about the situation on social media.

Glanville’s lawyers claimed in the letter that when Cohen “boasted” about wanting to sleep with Chastain while “thinking” about their client, it was “an extraordinary abuse of power” because the “Andy Cohen Diaries” author was Glanville’s boss at the time.

Andy Cohen taking a mirror selfie.

“It is inconceivable that Mr. Cohen remains in his post in spite of this behavior and harkens back to the bad old days of Matt Lauer and NBC News when profits were prioritized over people,” Freedman previously said in the letter, reiterating that he thinks Cohen should be fired.

He also said Glanville was allegedly left “feeling trapped and disgusted” over the video she received.

Cohen admitted shortly after on Thursday that he sent the clip to the “Traitors” alum — but brushed it off as him just kidding around.

Brandi Glanville.

“The video shows Kate Chastain and I very clearly joking to Brandi,” the father of two wrote via X.

“It was absolutely meant in jest, and Brandi’s response clearly communicated she was in on the joke. That said, it was totally inappropriate and I apologize.”

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Page Six has reached out to Glanville’s rep for a direct response to Cohen’s mea culpa, but did not immediately hear back.

While some Bravo fans have slammed the “Most Talkative” author online for sending the video in the first place, others have come to his defense, claiming Glanville is just retaliating for claims made against her .

Brandi Glanville and Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live."

Freedman and Geragos’ letter comes on the heels of a lawsuit Caroline Manzo filed in January, in which the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” alum alleged Glanville touched her private parts while filming “Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip” together in Morocco.

Although Manzo, 62, did not sue her co-star, she claimed in the complaint that producers did not protect her when Glanville allegedly mounted, humped and made other unwanted sexual advances toward her.

Glanville has not yet filed her own lawsuit against network executives, but her attorneys mentioned in their letter that they are considering pursuing legal action.

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Brandi Glanville.


eras personal statement tips


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  1. When do you need to write separate 📑 Personal Statements for each program you apply to? 🧐

  2. Personal Statement Tips For Medical Aspirants #personalstatement #medicine


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  6. How To Write A Good ERAS Personal Statement [Ultimate Guide]

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  7. Experience

    2024 MyERAS ® Applicant User Guide / Application / Experience Experience For the 2024 ERAS season, residency and fellowship applicants may share more about themselves with programs in a newly updated experiences section. You can select and categorize up to 10 experiences and describe up to three of these experiences as your most meaningful.

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  9. Documents for ERAS® Residency Applicants

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  10. Residency Personal Statement Writing Tips & Structure

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  11. Writing an Effective Personal Statement

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  23. Taylor Swift fans fear missing Sydney Eras Tour concert after flight

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