A topic that often comes up for repeat applicants or reapplicants (residency candidates who have applied for one or more applications cycles) is whether or not to reuse their ERAS Application documents. Gathering your ERAS Application documents year after year can be draining, and one of the most tempting documents to reuse or tweak a little is the Medical Residency Personal Statement.
It’s understandable really; most medical students or graduates do not enjoy the tedious task of writing the Personal Statement once– let alone twice or more! Writing the perfect Personal Statement that is engaging, professional, and reflects your best self, while still fitting on one page is time-consuming and difficult for the busy medical professional. You may even feel that you already had a strong document last year; so, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?
However, choosing to simply use the same Personal Statement you used last application cycle or even a slightly edited version presents some dangers. There are plenty of reasons why you should not choose to use your previous Personal Statement draft(s), but below are the top three most important reasons.
Top 3 Reasons to NOT Reuse your Personal Statement
Reason 1: Past Performance
The reality is that if you weren’t successful during your previous residency application cycles, it is unwise to use the same documents you used before. It is possible that something within your Personal Statement or other documents could have gone amiss or presented the wrong message about you as an applicant. The best way to ensure you do not present the same flawed message is to have brand new documents.
Reason 2: The Risk Factor
While somewhat unlikely, it is still possible a residency program could recognize your used Personal Statement if you applied to that program in the past. There may be some element of your Personal Statement (positive or negative) that is recognizable enough for a program to realize they’ve read this statement before. Or, the program could run a plagiarism checker and your Personal Statement could not check out. No matter how slim the chance, you wouldn’t want to jeopardize a new application cycle with last year’s documents.
Reason 3: Live in the Present
You are not the same person or professional you were last year. Your Personal Statement should always focus on the person you are NOW. Assuming you are the type of residency candidate who moves forward and continues pursuing new Work, Volunteer, and Research experiences, those experiences should not be forgotten or only briefly mentioned. Residency programs are most interested in the person you are now, so your new Personal Statement needs to focus on your newest experiences to prove your resilience and growth.
The Medical Residency Personal Statement is one of the most important ERAS Application documents as it functions are your personal introduction to residency programs who do not know you in-person. It is also a document that residency candidates are most likely to want to cut corners or not put in their full effort, especially if you have applied before. Don’t fall into that trap! Residency programs need to see full effort every time you apply, and applying with a used Personal Statement definitely does not send the right message.