PrsnlStmntforResidency06

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					  Writing the Personal
Statement for Residency
     Writing Consult Center
                and
     Office of Student Affairs
Goals for the Personal
  Statement essay:

   1. Get an interview
 2. Guide the interviewer
How do they choose?
What are the program
directors looking for?

What are the reviewers trying
    to learn about you?
“Reading a personal statement is
    like meeting someone…

It‟s like remembering a face– „Oh yes, I
remember her.‟ Some personality,
some individuality should come
through. I want to be able to say,
“That‟s the person who….”
      Personal life events


“Personal life events that had an impact on
you are important, positive or negative, but
don‟t spend half the essay on them.”
        “Grab my attention.”


“I want to know who you are, why you are a
doctor and why you want to become an
anesthesiologist [or xxxx] and where you‟re
possibly going with this training in the
future.”
“Somewhere in the essay, work in some
comments about your strengths. All
residency directors know that not every
student will be at the top of the class or have
every possible “stellar resident” attribute.
However, some comments about
determination, hard work, intellect, values,
and special skills will catch my attention.”
4 things reviewers want to
      learn about you
1. Your personal story
            Personal story


“Just a bit if it is conventional, more if it
  is unusual & relevant.”

But actually….
             Personal story
Concrete, not abstract:

“I look for personal stories that really tell me
   something about the applicant. The „I love
   kids‟ doesn‟t work as well as a patient
   encounter or any kind of story about how
   things could have been done better.
   Insight is always good.”
2. Significant academic
        difficulty

       Address it.
“Not mentioning significant academic
difficulty doesn‟t mean we won‟t see it on the
transcript or read it in the Dean‟s letter. This
is a good opportunity to explain what
happened– and is particularly important if
the explanation suggests that the problem is
not likely to recur.”
3. Special experiences that
 guided you to select this
         specialty

  Why you‟re well-suited to this
             field
     Selecting the specialty


“Most of the reasons we‟ve heard
before. But an applicant‟s own process
of decision is individual and needs to
be heard in his or her own words.”
     Selecting the specialty


“I like the essays that tell about the
applicant‟s past– if it was a struggle, or
why in general he or she would make a
good [ pediatrician, anesthesiologist,
surgeon,etc.]. Insight is always good.”
“Let me know what you are looking for in a
program. I‟m going to invite people to
interview who I believe are looking for the
things that we offer. Be honest about your
future goals. If you want to do clinical or
basic science research, make sure you bring
it up.”
 4. What the applicant
chooses as avocations
             Avocations

“This might not be appropriate in an
essay that is, of necessity, very serious
or in which a good portion of effort is
devoted to explaining academic
difficulty, for example.”
“The personal statement should be
personal and real. I use it a lot to
structure my interview.”
“Above all, be honest.
Dishonesty will kill the application.”
So, how to write the essay?
3 areas of attention

     Content

     Form

     Mechanics
    Content



Create a coherent
    life story
      coherent

  1. Sticking together,
2. Logically connected &
         intelligible
             Coherent?
It had been dry for a long time. No rain
had fallen for more than a month.

We had a beautiful home.

Now I want to be a dermatologist.
A coherent life story

      Direction
      Dedication
      Purpose
      Energy
      A coherent life story?
12 year old sister with leukemia died

Played basketball for K-State

Rafting instructor for 3 years after college

Decided to go to medical school
      A coherent life story?
12 year old sister with leukemia died.

Volunteered at hospital 3 years in college.

Did research in oncology lab at KU for 2
summers.

Decided to go to medical school. Hope to
become a pediatric oncologist.
Concrete, not abstract
          Form:
How to structure the essay

      Hook your reader.
      Show logical flow.
       The formula

 Begin with a personal story,
Go to theory, or what the story
           means.
Explore alternatives to the
         formula

    Slight rearrangements
     A different opening
            Form

No longer than one page.
6 paragraphs maximum.
“Leave some white space! One big
gray page turns me off.”
  Mechanics of good writing

“Make sure to check for errors– this is
 the biggest no- no to me. If you don‟t
 write well, it doesn‟t bode well for
 you.”
       Mechanics

 Grammar, spelling, diction,
syntax, punctuation, tone, and
            style.
   Mechanics of good writing

Competently written in standard English.

Workmanlike to Creative: the continuum.
Suggestions from reviewers
“Clarity is fundamental.”
                 Clarity

“If you don‟t have confidence in yourself as a
writer, keep it simple. One idea per
sentence.”
Tone and style
       Tone and style

“ Don‟t be dramatic or effusive.”

“ Be careful in touting your
  accomplishments. Tone is important.
  Sounding egotistical or boastful
  makes a bad impression.”
Proofreading & editing
      Proofreading and editing
“Get input from others. Have at least
one other person read the essay.”

“Good writing is re-writing. Read and
edit it several times.”

“Let it cool off before submitting it with the
application. If it sounds corny or trite to you or
perhaps even too strong, rewrite!”
Clarity
Eschew Obfuscation


   Writing clear prose
It‟s raining



At the present time we are experiencing
precipitation.
Identify me as Ishmael.
Several twelvemonths past– disregard the
exact period– being somewhat
impoverished financially and possessing
nothing remarkable to intrigue me on terra
firma, I reflected I would navigate about
somewhat and observe the liquid,
aqueous component of the globe.
Call me Ishmael.
Some years ago– never mind how long
precisely– having little or no money in my
purse, and nothing particular to interest
me on shore, I thought I would sail about a
little and see the watery part of the world.
            Clarity counts.
Make your reader work as little as possible.
 Keep the degree of difficulty as low as
 possible.

Robert Gunning‟s Fog Index:
 measuring the degree of difficulty of
 writing based on the length of the words
 we choose.
English:
  the world‟s richest, most expressive language.

Heteroglot: constant absorption
 American Indian: chipmunk, moose
 Italian: balcony, umbrella
 Persian: shawl, paradise, sherbet
 Greek: acrobat, catastrophe, elastic
 Spanish: alligator, vanilla, hammock
          Anglo Saxon roots
Words of usually no more than 4 letters

Home
Wife
Night
Eat
Farm
Love
Know
Tell
      Norman Invasion 1066
Language exploded– and separated into 2
  classes:

Home / Residence
Eat / Dine
Loving / Amorous
 Anglo Saxon & Latinate words
Think (verb)
     cogitate, ruminate, reflect, meditate,
     conceive, contemplate….

Need (noun)
     privation, destitution, indigence,
     penury, pauperism….

Willing (adjective)
      amenable, compliant, submissive, tractable
        Short, simple words
Not:               But:

Contemplate        Think
Endeavor           Try
Equitable          Fair, Equal
Facilitate         Help
Magnitude          Size
Require            Need
Terminate          End
Utilize            Use
       Avoid Pompous Diction
Endeavor – Try
Initiate – Begin
Is desirous of – Wants
Cognizant of – Knows
Ascertain – Find out
Implement – Start, create, carry out, begin
Apprise– Inform
Eventuate – Happen
Transpire – Happen
Transmit – Send
         Remove empty fillers

It would thus appear that….
Apparently….

It is considered that….
We think….

It is this that….
This….
It is possible that the cause is….
The cause may be….

In light of the fact that….
Because….

It is often the case that….
Often….
It is interesting to note that….
Omit

It is not impossible that….
Omit

It seems that there can be little doubt that…
Omit
      Economy and Precision
In the course of




While, during
In the event that




If
In the majority of instances




Usually
In the near future




Soon
In the nature of




Like (similar to)
In the neighborhood of




About
In the not too distant future




Soon
In the vicinity of




Near
In view of the fact that




Because
It is imperative that




Be sure that
It is interesting to note that




Note that
It would thus appear that




Apparently
Make decisions about




Decide on
Needless to say




(Then why say it?)
On a few occasions




Occasionally
On the assumption that




Assuming that
Prior to




Before
Subsequent to




After, Following
Take action




Act
Take into consideration




Consider
With regard to




Regarding
With the exception of




Except
Please find enclosed, herewith, my new
  paper, which was published in January of
  this year.

Here is my January 2003 paper.
Clarity = Economy + Precision
“Give us a coherent personal
story written in clear standard
            English.”

				
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posted:11/10/2011
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