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Personal Statement Writing & CVs for Residency: Personal Statements - Getting Started

Top 10 Dos for Personal Statement Writing


1) Give your statement direction with a thesis statement or main idea

2) Choose what you want to write about before you write.  Put your ideas in order. 

3) Use concrete examples from your own life. 

4) Write about what excites you and interests you about the field of residency

5) Start your personal statement with something attention grabbing

6) End with a conclusion that refers back to the lead idea or thought


8) Ask someone else to read your statement

9) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

10) Write clearly and concisely.  You don't need to impress your reader with flowery language either. 

Major Questions to Answer

1)  WHY have you selected this field of study?

2) WHAT motivates you to learn more about this field? 

3) WHAT do you want the committee to know about you that hasn't already been disclosed elsewhere in your application? 

Things to Consider

  • Essays for residency will likely be more limited in scope - you are focusing on a specific specialty.  Why do you want to be a part of this specific specialty? 
  • Find a 'hook' or something that will hold your reader. An essay for residency should focus on current topics/dental issues in the specialty. 
  • If descriptive stories and anecdotes are done WELL, they can be a useful tool.  
  • You've already listed your accomplishments on your CV.  There's no need to rehash them. 
  • If you do want to highlight your accomplishments, elaborate on them and give concrete examples of what you DID. 
  • ALWAYS link your statement to the specialty.  WHY do you want to do this?  What are your motivations? 
  • Eliminate cliches. 
  • Reflect professionalism.  Poorly written essays can sabotage your chances.
  • Be sure to demonstrate compassion, social justice, but also be sure that if you write about being someone who is a compassionate humanitarian, that your CV reflects it. 

Things You May Want to Include


Personality traits that might make you a good fit for the program

Challenges in the profession

Teaching interests

Research interests

Life-long learning concepts


Humanitarian service