Skip to main content

Personal Statement Guidelines

Guidelines for Writing Personal Statements

Talk with the program director in the specialty in which you are applying and ask them what they look for in a personal statement. Some specialties (otorhinolaryngology) are requiring that you have a separate personal statement for each program. Be sure to check with specialty and program requirements when drafting your personal statement. You may add a paragraph at the end of that statement to discuss what you are looking for in a preliminary program.

Before drafting your personal statement, please use the information below to help you organize your thoughts.

A suggested structure for your personal statement might be: 

  1. Why you chose this field. 
  2. Why you think you will be good at it. This might include any biographical history you might like to include, personal qualities, related hobbies, etc. 
  3. Briefly explain any mitigating circumstances in your qualifications. Avoid being too defensive. Some things of that nature might be best explained in your MSPE, if you wish.  Discuss this with the OSA dean writing your MSPE. 
  4. Some projection into your future, of both a professional and personal nature, if you wish. You may not want to be too specific about sub-specialty aspirations, though. People like to see an open mind. 

We recommend that you create your personal statements in a text file. The way you create a text file is Click on 'Start' menu on the desktop, under 'All Programs' Click 'Accessories', Click 'Notepad'. Change the Font to Courier New 10 which is used by ERAS. Keep it to less than one-page single spaced with one-inch margins all around and spaces between paragraphs. Do not use any special characters such as Bold, Italics, Underlines, &, ñ, µ, @,#,% etc. You don’t want it to look too cluttered. Poignant stories are nice, but basically keep it short and to the point. The idea is for it to be personal but not overly revealing.

Have a number of people read your statement to get their reactions, especially faculty members in the type of program to which you are applying. Also, people who know you well, on whom you can count for honest feedback, and who can make any necessary corrections in syntax and grammar. 

If you are deciding between two or more specialties, it is sometimes helpful to write a personal statement for each. If you can’t see the real differences among them, others who read your statements may be able to discover your true passion.