Faculty readers on selection committees read hundreds of personal statements each year. Unfortunately, this overload causes many readers to dismiss statements that contain errors and overused diction and phrases. To help give your personal statement an edge, we have compiled a list of items to avoid.
- "Finally finding the specialty you loved by going through all your rotations and what you did not like in each one." You want to sound as positive as possible. This approach may sound as if you inevitably find something negative in every environment.
- Using examples or stories that are too emotional, graphic, or unpleasant. Even though medicine can be messy, readers may find that you are not using good judgment if you choose to use it or overstate it in a personal statement.
- Repeating your Curriculum Vitae. Highlight one or two things that clearly support your skills, abilities, or love of your career choice.
- Claiming that you want to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders after residency unless there is strong evidence of current or past international or selfless charitable work on your CV to back up this statement.
- Presenting your essay in a chronological format…try to be more creative.
- Referring to patients as “your” patients. What happened to the rest of the team?
- Using an example of all the extra time you spent with a patient and an emotional description of how much they appreciated you listening to them and spending time with them. It is wonderful that students take time to go the extra mile, but be careful that you give the rest of the team credit for their time and effort. Also, be aware (and/or let your reader know you are aware) that because your attending and residents are so busy with teaching, patient care and research, they do not have as much time to spend with patients.
- Using patient names or identifiers in your essay. Patient identities are always respected and the lack of awareness of that simplest of hospital rules is an indication of your readiness for working in the hospital environment and how much “babysitting” you will need.
- Overstating your participation in a research project or volunteer activity when a phone call explains otherwise or a look at your CV says you spent one day at the volunteer center.
- Using flattering adjectives to describe yourself in your essay. Let your letters of recommendation do that for you or let your energy and enthusiasm come through in how you write and what you write about. If you are a compassionate healer, it will come through in your essay.
- Giving excuses for not doing well in a course or on a USMLE exam. If you have a blemish on your record, keep it short and to the point. Say what you did to remedy the problem and that you have progressed through your curriculum without further problems. Many administrators suggest not addressing problems in your personal statement at all. There is a section in ERAS for addressing absences or problems in your medical education (see pages 15, 16 of the ERAS 2012 worksheet) that have affected your application.
- Having too much story and not enough about your abilities and skills (weave relevant skills into your story).
- Telling the faculty reader what is important about their specialty.
- Hearing the wrong message when faculty or residents recommend that you just submit a unique essay that makes you stand out. The risky “unique” essay may make you stand out for the wrong reasons. The essay should still be about you and make you stand out because it is interesting, mature, intelligent, and professional.
If you have gotten feedback from faculty that could help others in their quest to write exceptional personal statements, please offer up your suggestions here, especially if you have heard of personal statement aspects that they find particularly irritating that we should avoid.
Check out these other articles about Personal Statement success:
Creating Your Personal Statement
Things to Think About When Getting Started on Your Personal Statement
image credit: residencypersonalstatement.biz
As the most significant part of your application ERAS personal statement can be your greatest chance to succeed or turn into the greatest nightmare. Basically, this type of document will help you to provide the reason why you’ve chosen your field of studying and convince the committee you’re the best candidate for the position. Whereas you don’t have control over the letter of recommendation this one allows you to show your candidature in the best light. Officially, ERAS in 2017 season is open from June 6, 2016. So you have the great chance to make the most of it!
Wondering how to find out the specialties that can be found for the 2017 ERAS season? Thenmake sure you checked the list of participating specialties and programs on the ERAS website.
Not often but happens that sometimes an ERAS program is signed on the list of programs but later on withdraw the participation. Sometimes the ERAS staff is not communicated about the withdrawal so it’s essential to make sure the programs are participating before sending the application documents to them.
Things You Need to Know before Applying to MyERAS?
- At the assigned Dean’s office you must obtain the ERAS token, the token from the other school or institution won’t do the trick so your documents won’t be uploaded correctly.
- The token from another ERAS season will not be accepted either, the system will prosecute and will not allow the further registration process to continue, so make sure you have the right one beforehand.
- One token is valid for 1 registration only so be sure to insert the information correctly and accurately.
- Get the AAMC Account to register for the ERAS token, use an account from the previous season or use another AAMC service.
The are 4 components ERAS consists of: MyERAS web-based applicant site, (DWS) Office Workstation of the Dean, (PDWS) Workstation of the the Program Director, (ERAS PO) that is ERAS PostOffice, and sure thing ERAS can be accessed via the AAMC Website www.aamc.org.
MyERAS Application Needs to Involve the Following:
- MyERAS application
- MyERAS personal statement
- Exam transcripts, including COMLEX or USMLE
- School transcript of records
- MSPE or student personal evaluation
- A letter of recommendation
- All of the ERAS residency application and supporting documents you can find in the table
What You Didn’t Know about ERAS Personal Statement Length
If to sum up the opinions, the right thing would be to say the experts suggest to keep the length of ERAS personal statement up to one page in length. In fact, committees do not want to dig the lengthy paper in order to find the sense of the written self-introduction. Limiting your words up to 500 words will help you to keep the narration clear and concise and save time both for you and the application committees. Your application certainly will not be rejected if you extend the narrative to around 750 – 800 words but 600-650 is still gonna be the better aim.
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.
ERAS allows the personal statement to be as long as 28,000 characters. (Including white spaces). If you were to write the statement to this limit, it will be too long. An ideal statement is about 1-2 pages long.
Here’s the example representing the perfect ERAS personal statement word count:
image credit: usmleweb.com
Best Things You Can Do for Your Personal Statement:
- Start early. The earlier you start writing the better will be the statement.
- Multiple versions. Write several versions of the document until you’re happy with the final result.
- Don’t compromise. Cut off all the information that doesn’t bear any value for the reader.
- Try to explain the reasons. If there’s any kind of time gap or sign of failure in your professional career find the appropriate reasoning.
- Tailor your personal statement to any kind of application, it should be unique for all programs you’re applying for. An iInfluential personal statement never fails to convince because it does not look like a template so try to maximally individualize your personal statement.
- Be straightforward and don’t make up things. The worst thing that can be found in the personal statement is lie.
- Check. Double check. Tripple check. Edit and proofread the personal statement no less than 3 times…then do it again. The best measure is to ask someone else to make the final check because sometimes it’s hard to find and neutralize own mistakes.
- Cut drastically. Cut off all the cliché and overused words, they’re certainly attention turn offs.
- Be objective. Ask your friends to give you the honest feedback considering your personal statement, ask to evaluate it from various angles, including the content mistakes, how interesting it is and correct.
- Structure the statement. Create the double spacings between paragraphs so that it would be readable and convenient to digest for the readers.
- Have your PS vetted by your Specialty and Faculty Mentors.
image credit: www.buzzfeed.com
EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT ADVICE: Programs view personal statements as black and white ASCII text that is in Courier New 10pt font. Set your ‘font size’ and ‘type’ to Courier New 10 pt and see how long your PS looks.
Things worth Avoiding:
- Self-praising statements.
- Self-centered claims.
- Overly emotional stories about yourself. The stories focused exceptionally on your emotions and feelings undermine your credibility.
- Redundant eloquence, quirky writing style and style embellishments distort your work
- Not appropriate analogies and vaguely understandable metaphors
- Quotations. There’s not enough space for quotations in the personal statements so try to avoid them as well.
- The committee is being bombarded by the same applications every day, he or she would be grateful if you stand out and avoid pasting difficult word constructions.
Here’s the good example of properly written document:
Your ERAS personal statement can be memorized in the good and in the bad way, depending on various features and your actual academic and job experience. When you think your story of how you pursued education in medicine is straightforwardly brilliant to other people it may seem plain, boring and banal. If you feel like nothing important is left to say better ask the professional writers to make your residency personal statement because this little piece of paper could literally determine your future.