The process of creating a strong Personal Statement can be stressful and confusing, but you can’t let that hold you back from a successful Match. As 83% of Program Directors rank the Personal Statement as one of the most important factors in considering applicants, it’s important that you showcase your skills while making personal connections. In this blog, we’ll teach you how to include patient stories in your Personal Statement that capture the reader’s attention. 

What information should be included in your Personal Statement?

The purpose of the Personal Statement is to provide the information not listed in your CV. You should include important relevant experiences you’ve had, as well as some personal details about your background.

Some important topics to discuss are:

What patient stories should I tell in my Personal Statement?

It is important to note that patient stories are NOT a requirement or expectation for your Personal Statement. The only patient stories you include should capture an important and memorable aspect of who you are as a person/physician. Otherwise, SKIP IT! Seriously, after you’ve read 100 patient stories you’ve read them all. Ask yourself if this will help build a deeper understanding of YOUR character, especially to someone who reads hundreds of statements every year.

Keeping that in mind, you should consider which patient stories were impactful in your medical journey. This will create a narrative of your path as a physician, and support your claims with evidence.

The type of story you should choose will have the following elements:

  • You learned a valuable lesson: It is important that you show your skills in action. Thus, bring up the clinical examples in which you demonstrated your excellence. Explore the points in your training which reaffirmed your specific strengths and passion.
  • You are the star of the story: One of the main purposes of the Personal Statement is to get to know you better, so make sure the story is about you! Avoid stories where you are only shadowing or observing. Your story should be focused on your active role and what you learned from the experience. While it’s important that your reader understand some details about the patient, this section of the Personal Statement should be more about you than the patient.
  • Faced a difficult choice– It is not strange for some cases to weigh heavier than others, and they often impact you. A story with a challenge you overcame, or an interesting case study are both examples of a way to show your character in times of stress.
  • Made a connection: Forming connections and relationships are an important part of a successful residency. Patient stories where you made a connection shows your personal side.
  • Related to desired specialty: It is important you can relate your patient story to your chosen specialty. This will reinforce to the reader why that specialty is the path for you.

Writing tips for engaging patient stories in your Personal Statement

How can you be sure that the reader will understand your point? The best way is to illustrate your traits, don’t just tell the reader about them. Some tips to a successful story are below:

  • Show a personal connection  No matter the content of the story, its primary goal should be to convey your personal reasons for pursuing medicine or your unique traits that will make you a great doctor.
  • Use clear descriptive language–  When telling your patient story, make sure to express details that engage the reader’s senses. In other words, focus on things you can describe what it was like to feel, see, hear, smell or taste. However, don’t lose sight of the point of your story by including too many details. We recommend each Personal Statement to be 750-800 words, so every sentence should have a purpose.
  • Highlight your displayed traits– So what details should you focus on? More importantly, what is the point of your story? For example, if you’re telling a story to show your bedside manner, then it would make sense to include details that establish the patient’s situation and how you were able to empathize to help them. 
  • Focus on your specialty– It is important that your Personal Statement be specialty specific, therefore it is best to focus on patient stories within your desired specialty.

If you’d like help making your patient stories stand out, contact us at Residency Statement! Call (858)-221-8590 or email us at We can help you write or edit your Personal Statement to increase your shot at an interview, residency placement and a great career!