As the Post-Match SOAP® grows nearer and nearer, if you have any doubts about your chances of Matching during the Main Residency Match®, now is the time to look back and evaluate your application in preparation for participating in the SOAP. It is especially important to review, revise, and refresh any supporting documents you have control over to correct any possible errors. One of the common places residency candidates make a mistake is on their Personal Statement.

Writing a Personal Statement can be tricky, and candidates often make mistakes they did not realize were there such as being too negative, using cliche or tired language, and poor grammar. However, there is one mistake that rises above the rest.

The number one way to make or break your Personal Statement is whether or not it is specialty specific. Specialty specific means the Personal Statement is written directly for a given specialty such as Family Medicine or Dermatology.

According to a Program Director survey conducted by NRMP called Results of the 2014 NRMP Program Director Survey, some of the top factors Program Directors use to judge whether or not to invite a residency applicant for an interview is their perceived interest in the specialty and the Personal Statement. Your passion and dedication to a specialty is best demonstrated through your Personal Statement.

But, what does it mean to be specialty specific? It means the following items are written for one specialty:

  • Language
  • Traits
  • Personal and professional anecdotes
  • Medical knowledge

A generic Personal Statement covers a broad amount of subjects poorly, but a specialty specific Personal Statement can focus in on the values of a specialty. Each specialty values different personality traits and characteristics, skills and knowledge. You wouldn’t use the same information for General Surgery as you would for Pediatrics, would you?

Now you may ask– If I have a specialty specific Personal Statement written, can I just switch out some of the words to make a statement for another specialty? No. To have the strongest Personal Statements for the best possible residency application you will want to write fresh statements for each specialty. Trying to modify a preexisting statement can lead to a choppy, insincere sounding document. You may also accidentally leave in a word or phrase meant for the specialty you were originally writing about.  

Creating multiple Personal Statements may feel like a lot of extra work, especially for busy medical professionals. But, the benefits of having specialty specific Personal Statements can make all the difference in your residency application.