American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Choosing a Residency

The Residency Selection Process

Choosing a residency program, writing personal statements for residency program applications, and interviewing for residency positions will take up much of the third and fourth years of medical school. This section provides information about selecting, interviewing, and writing personal statements for residency positions, and gives links to information about the application and match processes.

How to select a residency program by Tom Gadacz, MD, FACS

How to interview for a residency position by L.D. Britt, MD, FACS

Preparing Your Personal Statement

In addition, preparing an effective personal statement is a vital part of the process of getting into the residency program that is best for you. Following are tips that you should keep in mind when considering the direction of your personal statement.

Medical students worry, sweat, and fret over their personal statements. What should I say? Where should I start? You should first consider your audience. The first challenge of the personal statement is that the audience who is reading your personal statement is varied. Some program directors and others who review candidate files read the personal statement word for word. Others totally ignore it. Some essential points to remember:

  • Spelling errors are a big glaring error. Especially these days in light of electronic spell-check options. Most spelling errors are immediately visible to even the most superficial reviewer. A spelling error indicates a lack of compulsivity on your part, and most readers consider these oversights to be inexcusable.
  • Grammatical errors are almost as big a problem as spelling errors, although they are not usually detectable by a superficial look. Please, ask someone else with a strong editorial eye to read your statement before you submit it.
  • Tomes are not acceptable. Remember your audience: busy surgeons. We do not have the time nor the patience to read two to three pages of your life story. Keep it short.
  • Humor is good. We don't want a stand-up comedy act, but a subtle use of humor (once) can provide a welcome relief to the tedium.
  • Be original. A "your dog had surgery when you were four" is an old story and one tale that many directors probably are not interested in reading about again.

Your advisor can be a big help in contributing suggestions for your personal statement, as can best friends. Mothers, in general, although a great resource for many things, are not the best contributors when seeking suggestions for your personal statement.

Finding and Applying to Residency Programs

Using these links, you can access Web sites providing information about the match program, finding residency positions, and applying for those positions.