Questions to Help You Develop Content for Your Personal Statement


Do some inner assessment to help you begin your personal statement. This exercise is also helpful for interview season. This will help you generate ideas, stories, and themes for your personal statement.

  1. About the specialty.
    1. Break down why you want to enter this specialty, and no other, at this time of your life. List at least 8-10 reasons to end up with material for a good essay.
    2. What are the positives and negatives about the specialty?
    3. When did you first become interested in this specialty and for what reasons? Think back through all those childhood, adolescent, and early adulthood experiences and look for themes that drew you to the field. Even though they did not at first translate into your current specialty choice, you might now see them in a different light.
    4. What path in the specialty interests you 10 years from now?
    5. What research or developments in the specialty interests you?
    6. What about the patient population do you enjoy?
    7. If you can not answer some of these questions, it might help to look through some research journals or read some professional organization websites affiliated with your specialty.
  2. About Yourself.
    1. What is important to you? What are your values… can you list 3 values or beliefs by which you live your life?
    2. What makes you unique?
    3. What things about your family, your community, your education, your life experience, your beliefs, and your
    4. values that has shaped you and brought you to this medical specialty?
    5. What are your past or current hobbies? What motivates or interests you? How do they define you and your choice of specialty? What skills are needed to do these things?
    6. Do you have past work history, special skills, leadership experience, research, or communication history that would help you stand out or is a telltale sign that you are good fit for the specialty you are choosing?
    7. What qualities would have members of the program choose you over other applicants?
    8. What stories or patient encounters would help the program director understand who you are and what you value?
    9. How would a friend or instructor describe you? These could help define your strengths and weaknesses.
    10. What does your CV say about you? What themes appear from your activities? (Have a friend look it over and ask them what themes seem to come out to them).
Generate multiple ideas from these prompts and don’t worry about generalizations or clichés. From here, develop narratives around your generalizations that create vivid images using action verbs to describe the events as much as possible. As you do this, you will also be refining answers to questions that will come up on the interview trail ahead, so this exercise is never a waste of time or energy.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply