Whether it was in your undergraduate career or now into residency, the Personal Statement seemed like the last thing that mattered in regards to other academic aspects of the application. However, Program Directors who are consultants to us here at Residents Medical say otherwise:
“The Personal Statement can be a great tool to connect with the potential resident when I cannot see them physically. Of course academia will weigh heavily, but the Personal Statement can be an excellent opportunity to explain any gaps in your CV, any discrepancies…or just to connect with the resident. In healthcare we are looking for well-rounded individuals who are not only great on paper but can be empathetic, compassionate…knowing their personal story many times can help us get a feel for that."
His statement is in congruence with Dr. Jessica Freedman’s statement taken from her blog entitled, “Your Medical School Application: More than just a personal statement."
“Regardless of how many objective measures are instituted to screen applications, a tremendous degree of subjectivity influences a reviewer’s decision making during every part of the application process. Thus, it works in your favor to use every opportunity to illustrate why you are a great candidate; you never know what one of the several individuals reviewing your application might find interesting.”
It is in the personal statement that one may explain what they find interesting, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how the residency program can benefit from them, and what kind of skills and passion they will bring to the program.
The fact that the personal statement is present on the application shows that it does carry weight: “More often, reviewers are looking for compelling evidence that you are worthy of an interview invitation, and activities descriptions, especially for an applicant who doesn't have “over the top stats,” can make or break this decision” (Freedman, 2010). It’s safe to say that the personal statement can make or break you if you are an applicant with less-than-impressive stats. Therefore, take every opportunity you can to enhance your candidacy by taking advantage of the personal statement.