UW SOM Career Advising Office
medadv@uw.edu | education.uwmedicine.org/student-affairs/career-advising3/
Updated June 2020
Personal Statement Checklist
This is a starting point for writing your personal statement. You do not need to check all the boxes on the list to
have a great personal statement. It’s most important for you to tell your story and write a statement that makes a
residency program director want to meet you.
Who are you?
Describe the story of who you are related to medicine
Describe your unique personality and background
Why this
Document in first half of statement
Explain why you came to decide on the specialty
Demonstrate commitment to specialty
Skills and Values
Skills (general medicine or other non-medical)
Values are documented and explained
Skills/personal attributes align with specialty/residency program
Ability to overcome difficulties
bility to contribute to a team
Career &
Residency Goals
Identify what you want in a residency
Identify career goals (if known)
Ideas flow logically
Each paragraph centers on an idea or theme
Smooth transitions between ideas in each paragraph
Correct punctuation and spelling
Sparing use of I/me
One editor who knows you and your voice
One editor with specialty-specific knowledge
One editor for grammar/flow
UW SOM Career Advising Office
medadv@uw.edu | education.uwmedicine.org/student-affairs/career-advising3/
Updated June 2020
Specialty Tips for Personal Statements
These are general suggestions submitted by Departmental Career Advisors (DCA). Please follow up directly with a
DCA specialty advisor with specialty-specific questions.
Primary Focus of Personal Statement
Identify what makes you unique and how your attributes make you an
ambassador as a consultant in anesthesiology.
Modify your personal statement for each program. Be sure to emphasize who
you are and what drives you to pursue dermatology.
Diagnostic Radiology
Patient care is at the heart of radiology. Don’t let your excitement about
technology drown out your interest and focus on patient care and healing.
Emergency Medicine
Take time to think about why you are choosing EM and what it is about you
that makes this a good fit. Avoid coming off like you are in it for the adrenaline
or lights-and-sirens. Consider tailoring for some programs (especially
geographically far ones).
Family Medicine
It is important to convey a commitment to the specialty or to a particular
community. Even if you decide late to pursue family medicine, your story
should show how your interests have converged in this specialty.
General Surgery
Identify why you decided on surgery and why your choice make sense.
Internal Medicine
See IM’s guide (page 3).
Neurological Surgery
Identify what inspired you to follow this path. Do you have the passion,
intellectual and personal comprehension of what this field takes to be
Demonstrate you are hardworking and committed to the specialty.
Share something unique, not necessarily related to medicine, if possible to
make you memorable. Demonstrate grit and drive.
Identify commitment and reasons for choosing the field. Also any of your
unique, personal characteristics or past experiences.
It needs to be personal, interesting and make the reader want to meet you.
Demonstrate commitment to otolaryngology. Explain your passion,
motivations, and vision for a career as an otolaryngologist.
Discuss how you understand that pathology is critical to patient care. Do not
talk about how you decided you don’t want to see patients.
Most successful candidates are usually a ‘person for others’.
Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation
Demonstrate that you know the depth and breadth of what PM&R is and what
is means to practice. Have a good attitude towards people with a disability.
Plastic Surgery
This is your story, not the story of the specialty. Be introspective and don’t
simply use a personal anecdote as the reason for choosing this specialty.
Demonstrate a good reason for choosing the specialty. It is ok to mention, but
do not emphasize, one’s own mental health problems or mental health
problems in the family.
Radiation Oncology
Be yourself.
Point out something that is not apparent from the other application materials
or something that you would like to highlight. This should be something that
sets you apart from other applicants.
The personal statement (PS) is your opportunity to communicate to residency programs information about you that
cannot be found elsewhere in your ERAS application. Programs want to know more about you! Our top advice is:
Tell your story Share what makes you tick, a unique background, experience, insight, failure, redemption, journey,
etc. A story that underscores your foundational grounding and illustrates who you are at your core.
Set the scene--broadlyDon’t go overboard setting the scene with minute details. In broad strokes set the scene,
adding in relevant who, what, when, where and why’s.
Transition to the future At some point toward the end of your story, in a few sentences (1-3) transition to the
future and how IM training is a part of that, tying in how the experience will contribute to your career in medicine.
For nontraditional backgrounds, relating the journey that pointed you to medicine nicely brings your PS to the present
application. Often this in itself is interesting….how did an actor end up in medicine? How did a college dropout become
a medical student? How did refugee end up in Spokane for clerkships? Your stories are behind these transitions and
how you got from A-to-B can speak volumes about you.
Patient stories Not needed, so don’t feel you have to add one. If it’s interesting and relates to your story or future
career goals, it is fine to share. But don’t feel you must include a patient story.
You don’t need to convince us you want to specialize in IM Keep that to a minimum, final paragraph is
Think scanner not reader Grab the readers attention first sentences of the first paragraph. This also applies to
the last paragraph and the first sentence of each paragraph in between.
Avoid conversations This can comes across as contrived and takes up precious space on your page.
Be prepared to discuss your PS in interviews Student are surprise how often their PS is discussed during
interviews. A word of caution: if you share something in your PS, e.g. a loved one passing away, assess how you will feel
when asked about this by a stranger (albeit likely a kind & compassionate one).
Keep to one page
Talk with us first is you plan to discuss academic/step/personal issues in your PS
Summary paragraph End your PS by including the following in the last paragraph:
What you are looking for in residency.
What you can contribute to a residency.
Career goals if you are applying to a specific track e.g. primary care.
A preference statement can also be directed to a specific program and address things that are particularly
appealing about that program such as…
o Curricular elements, diversity/inclusion efforts, culture at the program, etc.
o Geographic preference. Some students have compelling reasons why they need to match in a specific
geographic area. Frequently it is accommodate their spouse/partners employment, or be close to family.
A sentence stating why you are applying to a geographic area lets the residency programs know you are
serious about your application to their program and why. This is especially helpful if the program does
not have a history of matching many UW students to their program.