As you get ready to apply for residency, it’s a good idea to look at internal medicine residency personal statement examples. One of the most crucial parts of your application will be your residency personal statement, whether you are navigating ERAS in the US or CaRMS in Canada. Directors of residency programs are interested in learning about your personality, your potential as a resident physician, and the reasons behind your specialty decision. They’ll be looking to understand this from your personal statement.
With a fill-rate of less than 45%, internal medicine was the least competitive among the most competitive & least competitive residencies in a recent survey. The higher the fill-rate, the more competitive the residency program. However, this is not a reason to skimp on any aspect of your residency application. In this article, we provide three great examples of internal medicine residency personal statements to help you write your own and earn that coveted spot in the program of your choice.
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Residency Personal Statements
Your CV is an impressive, legible, and flawless presentation of your achievements. Now it’s time for your personal statement. In one page, or about 500–800 words, you are setting out to explain to residency program directors why they should choose you, as well as all the events that led you to this particular decision and specialty. No pressure!
The purpose of a residency personal statement is to show the reader who you are. Unlike your medical school personal statement, this essay is not intended to convince someone to admit you. Instead, you are seeking the right Match. Consequently, your residency personal statement should highlight your accomplishments and potential contributions in a way that represents the truest reflection of you as a person and as a physician. The defining quality of a residency personal statement is authenticity. You want to find yourself in a residency program where you will thrive and be able to make a significant contribution.
Watch out for red flags in your residency application!
The following examples take different approaches to the personal statement, but they all include some essential components. They:
- Tell the applicant’s story
- Provide examples of significant moments and experiences
- Illustrate the applicant’s character
- Describe the applicant’s motivation for pursuing medicine
- Contextualize the applicant’s interest in a specialty
- List various skills and qualities the applicant will bring to the residency program
Internal Medicine Personal Statement Example 1
This personal statement presents the story of an international student applying to residency in the United States.
While studying medicine at the National University of Colombia, Bogotá, I experienced various life-changing events, many of which were associated with my role as a team leader for the response to aerial bombings of armed groups by the government. Along with other students, I travelled with paramedics and triaged the wounded in the ED at various hospitals. I came into contact with numerous communities. It was not uncommon to see some of these people again when they returned to our clinics for follow-up treatment or brought their family members in for the diagnosis of chronic illnesses.
Through this experience, I realized that medicine is a virtuous circle. Even in the most devastating circumstances, the connection with a doctor made by one person is often shared with others. Although I gained valuable expertise in emergency medicine, my interest in pathophysiological processes grew. I found it fascinating to be able to correlate clinical findings to reach an accurate differential diagnosis, a vital skill for an internist.
I also realized how important it is to communicate effectively with patients from different backgrounds. My exposure to various cultures and social strata has equipped me with the knowledge to appropriately treat individuals without causing offence. In Columbia, Catholicism is deeply culturally pervasive, for example, and knowing how to navigate patient expectations and limitations has a major influence on their medical decisions.
On our medical ward, there was a patient who had cutaneous leishmaniasis and was treated with parenteral and oral medications as well as local therapies before being discharged. She was a young, local girl of 19 who had been engaged to be married but felt stigmatized by the disease. With her permission, I reached out to both sides of her family and enrolled her in a directly observed treatment program. Seeing her recover successfully and renew her engagement in her subsequent marriage was both personally and professionally rewarding.
This encounter was one of many that confirmed my commitment to internal medicine. Although the ED gives a physician the sense of being immediately helpful in a crisis, I came to appreciate the value of building strong physician–patient connections. In time, I realized how wonderfully fulfilling it is to have such a significant impact on patients’ lives. I am certain my ability to effectively communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds is a strength that will help me become a capable and caring internist.
Recently, I completed a clinical elective at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California, with the objective of acquiring useful US clinical experience. I am currently a clinical observer in the laboratory service. This practical training taught me so much about the American health care system. I’ve learned about patient management through case discussions, hospital rounds, and conferences. I’ve also become familiar with the duties of an intern. Given the courses I selected in medical school and hands-on experience with urgent care in Columbia, I see myself leaning toward infectious diseases as a specialty. This conviction was reinforced during the global health crisis when it became clear that we need more physicians with expertise and experience in this area. As an internist, I will have the exceptional opportunity to provide my patients with comprehensive analysis, appropriate treatment, and advocacy.
I joined the Humanitarian Doctors’ League, a group in Pasadena founded to raise money for hospitals in South American countries. To increase awareness of the important work these hospitals are doing, often with limited resources, we collaborate with sponsors to bring in esteemed scholars from university and health care settings as guest speakers. Attended by equally renowned professionals in California, we raised over $25,000 last year for the purchase of medication and medical supplies. I’ve also volunteered with the Pasadena Young Scientists Association, where I’ve helped inner-city youth with their schoolwork and taught them about social and environmental issues. In addition, I have mentored other students throughout medical school, another wonderful experience that inspired me to consider teaching in my career.
In the future, I am not sure whether I will practice in the US or return to Columbia to open a modern clinic so that those who are less fortunate may receive quality medical care and patient education. A position in academic internal medicine, teaching medical students and residents, is something else I’d want to explore. I’m looking for a residency program that is devoted to developing a culture of lifelong learning and committed to providing care to a wide range of patients. I think a residency in California will support me in building my professional network and continuing to develop innovative international partnerships to improve patient care across demographics.
Want to learn more tips for your internal medicine residency? Check this infographic out:
Internal Medicine Personal Statement Example 2
This personal statement presents the story of an American student applying to residency in the United States.
My achievements in life are a result of my enthusiastic embrace of challenges that pushed me to learn and grow while also cultivating deep connections. One such connection was with my volleyball coach, Dr. Sandy Mason, at Logan University. She selected me as captain during the last regular season of my senior year, even though I had ended the previous season with an injury. She told me it was because I had never lapsed in my commitment to the team, attending every game and cheering on my teammates, even when I was in pain. The year I was captain we emerged from the regular season undefeated.
The pride I felt at that last game was more important to me than winning the playoffs. Not only was I satisfied with my own recovery and skills, but I was also proud of what our team was able to achieve through our combined efforts. Not all leadership requires teamwork, but in sports and medicine, it does. By making me captain while I was still undergoing therapy, my coach supported me both mentally and physically; I truly believe that this is what enabled me to turn around and direct that same good energy to my teammates.
Another interesting connection in my life is the one I made between my injury and my eventual career plans. Observing the doctors while they tried to assess the complex damage I had sustained to my ankle inspired appreciation but also intrigue. After my sessions, I often found myself limping into libraries or scrolling online to follow up on what they had said.
My current obsession is rheumatology, though my condition resulted from injury, not illness; the next connection I made was with fellow patients in the clinic and hospital. At some point, I was told that I would regain full mobility with proper therapy, but for certain patients, the prognosis was less positive. The idea that they were experiencing as much pain as I had, but over the long term, affected me deeply. As a result, in my last two years of medical school, I’ve sought opportunities to collaborate in research on comorbidity and multimorbidity of chronic diseases, such as arthritis and diabetes.
I am also employed as the lead grant writer for our faculty. I did not actively seek this position but was recommended to it by two of my professors. This show of support underscored how leaders can set a good example by recognizing, investing in, and lifting up juniors. Grant writing is also about teamwork – another connection – which I realized after reaching out to over twenty medical students and investigators just to prepare the first proposal. In this environment, I learned to create a strong application, carry out protocols, analyze data, conduct literature reviews, and draft studies. I would apply these skills in a residency program to support research and enhance outcomes for patients with complex pathology.
I am especially interested in research in therapeutic settings. For instance, during my rotations at St. Luke’s Hospital, I met many patients with arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout. Under the supervision of Dr. Xiu, our team surveyed these patients to compare the effects of current therapies on different types of arthritis and devise better treatments. Even at this early date, our research has led to improved results for a subset of patients who previously felt they didn’t have any other options. Applying what I learn is one of the most satisfying aspects of medicine for me, especially when it improves patients’ quality of life. I would be interested in continuing this work as a longitudinal study and potentially weaving it into my residency.
Going forward, I hope to learn existing approaches and techniques that represent best practices, but I am also keen to innovate and expand the scope of my specialty. I aim to have a lasting impact, first, by relieving pain and benefitting others as a caring, patient-centered physician, and then by devoting my energy to research, clinical excellence, and service.
Most importantly, I am seeking a residency that shares my vision of teamwork, as exemplified by my coach, Dr. Mason, my volleyball team, and my current faculty: first and foremost, everyone on the team is dedicated to achieving the same objective; everyone understands and values the contributions of each team member; everyone puts in a lot of effort; everyone encourages the personal growth of the other team members. If given the opportunity to join such a team, I will jump at the chance – and I will be able to do so, thanks to the doctors who helped me jump again.
Internal Medicine Personal Statement Example 3
This personal statement presents the story of a young immigrant to Canada applying to residency in Canada.
Not long ago, I returned to Syria, my birthplace, for the first time in eight years. I had left the country before the Arab Spring protests to participate in an international high school exchange program in science. Although I became more Canadian as time went on, I never stopped thinking about the rest of my family back home. I had expected to be gone for one year, but after my uncle was killed in the civil war, everyone urged me to stay in Canada. Ultimately, I was able to apply, with the help of my family, for Canadian Permanent Resident Status.
I pursued advanced science, biology, and physics options in high school, but during a career fair, I attended a presentation by Doctors Without Borders about their intervention in Syria. Two doctors who had recently returned from their tour spoke of their experiences, and the multimedia aspect, including photos and video, made me feel both homesick and terrified. The years of violence had severely damaged Syria’s infrastructure. The country’s once-relatively effective health care system was devastated. Numerous medical institutions had been destroyed, personnel had been killed or fled, and there were severe supply shortages. I understood then that what I had gained from my good fortune I would give back by returning to my country and meeting a part of the urgent need there, once I had the proper education and training.
After an undergrad and pre-med at Ontario Tech, I was accepted to the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster. However, with a six-month gap between graduation and the start of medical school, I decided to return to Syria to visit family and investigate the health care situation for myself. I wanted to have a concrete plan for how and where I would ultimately work as a physician.
This journey changed me. Whole towns were scarred by the vestiges of war; some villages I had known were completely wiped off the map. More disturbing was the impact on the population. Many people living in massive refugee camps, such as Za’atari, had debilitating injuries from bombings or AR assaults. The number of people with acute or chronic diseases in the camps was significant. While I was there, I helped attend to three people injured in a fire and learned a lot from the resident physicians about identifying diseases that were common there but would have been unusual in Canada.
During my first two years of medical school, I was torn between a focus on emergency medicine and internal medicine. The recent global health crisis settled that question for me. As an intern at St. Joseph’s Hamilton Healthcare, I assisted in the ED, helped admit urgent cases, and provided care. To facilitate appropriate interventions, we collaborated closely with specialty teams. I felt genuinely at home on the ward, despite the lack of resources, trauma, exhaustion, and constant worry about getting sick or infecting someone else. In my mind, I drew a direct line to Syria and knew that if I returned, I would have what it takes to endure it, even if the war worsened again.
However, my perspective on emergency care evolved last year when the crisis eased, and we began to see more accident victims and critical cases, such as cardiac arrest or CVA. At the same time, certain cases were especially challenging: patients with a combination of pre-existing health conditions and long-term consequences of COVID-19 were winding up in the ED. This was when I noticed the convergence of my different educations. Attending physicians noticed it too. I identified symptoms in patients that sometimes went undocumented, and my instincts for which test to order were strong. I realized that my science background and ease with theory and analysis were contributing to my diagnostic ability, even though I was not yet allowed to take on such a responsibility. On the patient side, I picked up on visual signs and subtle cues and with knowledge of Arabic, English, French, and Russian, I was able to communicate with a wide range of people.
In the year since, I have increasingly gravitated toward internal medicine, as this is clearly where my skills and aptitudes lie. Although I have remained mainly at St. Joe’s, this has not limited my versatility but rather, enhanced it, as I have had the privilege of caring for a broad spectrum of patients and working with several departmental directors in various specialties. The extensive patient contact, along with the intellectual challenge and learning opportunities inherent in each new case, are what convinced me that internal medicine is exactly where I want and need to be. Should you accept me as a resident, you can be assured of a strong, serious, mature contribution by a sensitive team player with a wealth of experience.
It is hoped that these examples give you a good idea of how to approach your internal medicine residency personal statement and convince you that you can craft your own strong statement around what makes you unique as a person and as a physician.
Here are a few more ideas of what to include:
1. How long should my personal statement be?
Your internal medicine residency personal statement should generally be between 500 and 800 words, or one page. Be sure to check the precise requirements of the residency program to which you are applying.
2. Are residency personal statements that important?
Simply put: Yes! Your residency personal statement provides you with the opportunity to interact with the program directors and explain why you want to pursue your chosen specialty. It also humanizes your application. Your chances of being accepted into your ideal school may be greatly increased with a powerful personal statement.
3. What can I do to make my personal statement stand out?
Get an early start, so that you won’t feel rushed. Conduct comprehensive research on the residency program. Write an outline. Include anecdotes and concrete examples in your essay. Once you have included all the relevant content, work on weaving a story together and revising your writing to make it more concise.
4. When should I start writing my residency personal statement?
Leave yourself a good six weeks to write your internal medicine residency personal statement.
5. Should I use my residency personal statement to address red flags or concerns in my application?
Red flags should only be discussed if they are pertinent to your personal statement, and you haven’t previously addressed them in another application component. If you do address any areas of concern, be sure to accept responsibility for the issue and detail how you improved as a result of your missteps or setbacks.
6. How competitive is internal medicine as a specialty?
With a fill-rate of under 45%, internal medicine is one of the least competitive specialties.
7. What do I do if I’m not matched?
Although unlikely, you may heed every piece of advice from your consultant and yet fail to find a match. Therefore, we advise choosing a professional service that is guaranteed. For instance, at BeMo, we offer a money-back guarantee that you can learn more about by scheduling a free first consultation.
8. Do residency personal statement editing services help you write your personal statement?
Certainly! While they cannot actually create the essay for you, they can help you brainstorm, offer writing advice and strategies, and guide you through the editing process to ensure that you produce a great residency personal statement.
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