Writing Your Family Medicine Personal Statement for ERAS

I finally finished my personal statement a few weeks ago, and I am just sitting down now to write about that awesome* experience.  I haven’t done something like that since applying to medical school.  I thought it was so intimidating at first. I sat down with a bowl of popcorn, a glass of wine and got to work.  While writing, I realized that there is nothing else I would rather do with my life.  I know I probably should have known that I wanted to be a family physician before, but articulating it renewed my drive.

Not to be too mushy, but my personal statement ended up being kind of a good experience. So here’s how I did it:

First, I read the personal statement from my medical school applications.  I jotted down some qualities that stuck.  I tried to target qualities that I had then that I feel will help me in residency.  Next, I put away that personal statement. Today I am a confident, hard-working medical student who is prepared for a residency.  I am ready to be a competent and enthusiastic patient advocate. So I added more skills and qualities that I acquired through medical school.

Then I began to write.  I wrote whatever I thought, without regard for how long it was. I recalled and wrote about several stories. In the first few paragraphs, I talked about the experiences I have had that have made me want to pursue a career in family medicine.  Working in a clinic in Haiti after the earthquake, my time with AmeriCorps VISTA at a free clinic, a few patients from rotations. I talked about how those experiences made the decision to go into family medicine an easy one.

Then, came the hardest part.  It is important to discuss why you would make a great resident in your personal statement.  This was really hard for me.  I talked about what skills I have acquired and my ability to work as a member of a patient care team.  I discussed what I am looking for in a residency and what kind of environment I want. I ended my personal statement with a somewhat mushy summary sentence.  🙂

Then, I began the task of editing my five page personal statement into a single page.  I first picked out my favorite patient stories.  It was hard because I have so many, but I limited it to only two.  Then, I enlisted my mother’s help.  I highly recommend outside review.  You need to send your personal statement to someone who won’t be afraid to tear it up.  (If you don’t have someone, write in the comments, I will happily be your person, time permitting.)

My mom gutted it, then I rewrote sections.  After an endless number of rewrites and little edits, Mom called me and told me it made her cry.  At that point, I knew it probably wasn’t perfect.  And it would never be.  But, it was done.  It was my voice.  It is exactly how I want residency programs to see me.  I want them to ask questions about it.  Through reading it, they have a snapshot of who I am, and the resident I will become. I knew it was finally done.

And not to be overly mushy, but I confess that sometimes after a long day, I will sit down and reread it.  It makes me smile and reminds me how far I have come in these past few years.

Here’s a sample of my personal statement:

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend medical school and I am prepared to be a hard-working, compassionate, and enthusiastic resident.  Family medicine will provide me the opportunity to care for patients in the way they deserve to be cared for.  I will approach each day knowing what I do is making a difference in the lives of my patients.  It is absolutely thrilling to realize what I was meant to do with my life: I was born to be a family physician.

Shannon