It is sometimes helpful to contemplate the work of others when attempting to produce your own finely tuned work, and to that end, we have provided you with these neurosurgery residency personal statement examples. Tips and advice can assist in your writing, but some people find examples more useful.
Residency personal statement examples will show you how experts write their own statements. Personal statements are an essential aspect of applying to a residency, as any residency prep course will tell you. You can use a personal statement to introduce yourself, show why you are the perfect candidate, and connect you to the discipline and program that you are applying to. Seeing example essays will also let you avoid red flags in residency personal statements.
Read on for two samples specific to applying to a neurosurgery residency.
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
Neurosurgery Residency Personal Statement Examples
Neurosurgery Residency Personal Statement Example #1
In my high school days, I was involved with the theater program, and as everybody else talked about butterflies in their stomachs, I just felt a paradoxical relaxation and excitement. In university, I was a regular contributor to the school’s newspaper, but no matter the deadline, I never worried. Even at medical school, I always found myself stepping forward to volunteer to go first. Nerves are not a problem for me. They never have been, and as a result, I feel almost at home in the high pressure of chaos. When thinking about my residency, I naturally gravitated toward emergency medicine and surgery.
Wondering how to write a residency personal statement? Watch this video:
This dilemma – which residency to apply to – was solved for me while I was working as an assistant during medical school with Dr. Michaelson in his research into Alzheimer’s disease. This task quickly became my favorite aspect of my education. I enjoyed wrestling with complex problems, looking for solutions, and being given the freedom to explore exciting advancements in medicine using specialized equipment. The most exciting part of this research, however, was our work on the human brain. This organ that produces thoughts, mind, and consciousness itself via chemical and electric reactions is awe-inspiring and studying how our minds work fascinates and excites me. With a predilection for exploring the mind on top of my knack for handling pressure, surgery became my fits-like-a-glove choice.
My buddy Rod thought he wanted to become a surgeon, but one observation in the operating room change his mind and he abandoned the idea. My observations of surgeries while shadowing doctors have only made me more certain that this is my calling. The most memorable surgery I observed was to repair an aneurysm. The procedure was intense, taking hours, and required precision and focus for the entire time. Despite the harrowing circumstances, the surgeon and her team spoke with one another in an easy, friendly manner. I was impressed both by the work being done and the team-building respect and kindness shown in the OR. There is no space in an operating room for egos. The whole time, I wished I had the knowledge and training to help them – to join in at this crucial point in the patient’s struggle.
Studying medicine at Johns Hopkins has been an incredible experience. I always feel like I am part of a caring group, exactly like the surgical team I observed. I feel safe and appreciated, but at the same time, I feel like there is a demand on me to perform my very best work all the time. The emphasis on always pushing the cutting edge farther is exciting and inspiring. These two elements are what makes the program so impressive and appealing. I know that I would be supported in residency as well and that I would be part of an effective, inventive, and formidable team that is making medicine better for everyone. For these reasons, I believe that remaining at Johns Hopkins for my neurosurgery residency would be both a perfect fit and of optimal benefit to my journey.
I also know that teaching and sharing knowledge is another important aspect of Johns Hopkins’ ideals and programs – particularly with their neurosurgery department. My interest in someday guiding other would-be surgeons, sharing my own knowledge, and helping the next generations of neurosurgeons realize their goals and dreams is another reason I feel I would fit right in.
To prepare myself for this program, I have tried to gain as much experience as possible with high-pressure situations, new research, and leadership positions while learning all I can about the human mind and surgical techniques. I have been involved in emergency medicine and pushed myself to learn strategies for working under pressure. Emergency rooms are places where anything can happen – and usually does several times in a shift. Night shifts, in particular, are refining crucibles, and I have been through them again and again. I know what it is to have a trauma patient come in at 6:50 in the morning, just as I am getting ready to go home or catch a few hours of sleep, and to have to stay on to help because that is the essence of the job.
My neurology rotations were enjoyable but often just as difficult as emergency medicine. Solving the problems presented in neurology was both rewarding and challenging. Whether investigating differences between short- and long-term memory, consulting on cases with the psychiatry department, or educating patients on the relationship between mental health and diet and sleeping habits, neurology fascinates me. Furthermore, helping patients to care for their minds is fulfilling as no other medicine is for me. The mind is the person, and the person is the mind. This is health care for the deepest self, and that is such a wonderful and terrible responsibility.
Therefore, continuing into residency in your program as a neurosurgeon is my dream – one I feel fully prepared for, based on my calm demeanor, shadowing of surgeons, and rotations – all of which have confirmed that this is the path for me.
Neurosurgery Residency Personal Statement Example #2
My introduction to clinical rotations was at a family medicine clinic, which my supervising physician described as being on the quiet side. It was supposed to be a nice, smooth transfer to clinical work, but as I soon learned, there is really no such thing in medicine. By the end of a long, hard, first day, I was exhausted and shaken and wondering whether I should hang up my stethoscope for good.
On that first rotation, I had a family bring in their young daughter, who had very mild symptoms at first, but who rapidly progressed to what my supervising physician discovered to be a pediatric stroke. She had to be rushed to a hospital with more adequate facilities, but in the meantime, it was our job to do anything we could to stabilize the girl before the helicopter arrived. One shift in, and I was already up to my eyeballs in emergency trauma and helicopters.
But, of course, the rest of the clinic didn’t shut down, and other appointments had to be kept. It was all I could do to focus on my work while knowing that the family could do nothing but think of their little girl. I thought of them even after they were gone, and I didn’t fully relax until close to the end of my first day when my supervising physician told me, and the rest of our team, that she had received word that the girl had been treated successfully and the prognosis was very good.
She took me aside later and asked how I felt. “I don’t know if I can do this,” I told her, and she was surprised. She said she had rarely seen a person perform so well under stress. I had remained outwardly calm and professional while managing the rest of my tasks for the day. This was the first time I ever thought of myself as being calm under stress, but apparently, I am.
For more advice on writing residency personal statements, check this infographic:
In my surgery clinic, I began to appreciate what my previous supervising physician had said to me more. I noticed that no matter the pressure, my hands didn’t shake. I could always process instructions and carry out tasks. I never vomited after anything particularly intense, although I observed some very different reactions in a few of my peers. To be clear, I respect and admire my colleagues, and I would not excel at everything they are good at, either, but I discovered that I had a distinct knack for stress control. Moreover, I had success in the limited number of surgical procedures I was allowed to perform or assist with as a medical student.
At first, the brain was not my main interest. Had I simply been someone who handled stress well and enjoyed the surgery clinic, I might have picked any area of surgery – cardiac, for instance. But the nature of that little girl’s trauma – her brain needing help – made me think about the importance of the human mind. To save a mind is to save a person. We can survive anything else, can’t we? But not the loss of our minds. Perhaps it is my joint MD-PhD program that makes me philosophical about this, but there is so much to consciousness that we don’t understand – I am so intrigued by this area of medicine.
My MD-PhD research has been couched in personality discourse. Before I began my surgical rotations, I was contemplating psychology as a specialty. In my studies of personality, I was trying to learn more about how physical health affects mental health. I was involved with a sleep study, looking at how to optimize sleep habits for different demographics. We were exploring whether population subsets have different sleep requirements. I am currently involved in another study about how exercise affects mental health and personality. This connection between personality and the nervous system is what had the greatest impact on me while I considered different surgical disciplines. I recognized that I had a strong interest in how our bodies process information through the central processor of the nervous system. The related background reading and coursework in neurology, along with labs and the abovementioned research, all support my natural progression into neurosurgery. I believe that your program, with its state-of-the-art facilities and emphasis on research and development, will be ideal for making my dream a reality.
Tips on Writing a Neurosurgery Personal Statement
Any personal statement must have a connection to the residency you are applying to, and all personal statements will introduce you and your history as a medical student. Essentially, you are always aiming to show who you are and why you are perfect for the residency. But what should you focus on with a neurosurgery personal statement in particular?
Well, to start off with, you will want to keep in mind a list of traits that are specifically desirable for neurosurgeons.
Ask yourself what experiences or proof you have of those traits, and whether you have knowledge of those subjects. Demonstrate that – show, don’t tell – within your application.
Additionally, neurosurgeons will need good communication skills and excellent doctor–patient relatability to deliver high levels of information about treatments and recovery to patients and their families. They also need to be able to speak to patients and their families about very difficult subjects and be able to deliver bad news in a caring but straightforward manner.
Highlight any direct or indirect experiences you have with surgery of any sort, in addition to neurosurgery.
Finally, try to give a sense of your optimal career path. This doesn’t have to be too specific but try to relate this to your residency of choice. If the hospital you are going to is known for its teamwork and you plan on working in teams, for example, this will help match you up with your ideal residency.
You can see how expertly crafted residency personal statements read now, and with these sterling examples, you should be able to craft your own statement. Remember to focus on your own journey and the fact that the primary goal of the residency personal statement is to show your unique attributes that connect you to the specific program and residency you are applying to. You are showing why you are a perfect match. Take that knowledge, focus on your goal, and take the time to write your own future.
1. How long should my personal statement be?
While the statement length might vary from program to program – and you should always check for any requirements – typically a residency personal statement will be between 750 and 900 words, based on the space provided in the ERAS application.
2. How long does it take to write a personal statement for residency?
It could take from two to six weeks, with some time each day set aside to work on your statement. Take your time writing the statement because you want to make sure you have it perfect, and you need time to re-write, edit, get feedback, and proofread your spelling and grammar. You may also wish to consider whether you need a residency application consultant to help you edit your personal statement.
3. What experiences should I have for a neurosurgery residency?
Neurosurgery requires precision, manual dexterity, calm under pressure, stress management, knowledge of the brain and nervous system – including neuroscience, neurology, and other disciplines – and stamina. Surgeons also need good communication skills to speak with their patients and patients’ families – including the ability to speak clearly but compassionately about extremely difficult subjects. Experiences should highlight any or all of these qualities.
4. How careful should I be about spelling and grammar?
Extremely careful, as any reader will assume you have put the maximum effort into your residency application, given its importance for your future and career. If your maximum effort doesn’t include a thorough spellcheck, that will reflect poorly on said reader’s opinion of you.
5. What should I avoid in my personal statement?
Generalization, repetition, arrogance, and a failure to explain gaps in your residency CV, low test scores, or a lack of certain experiences. Most “red flags” can be avoided or handled by curating the information you include, ensuring an appropriate tone, and giving a good explanation for any problems, including what you learned and why they will never happen again.
6. What should I include in my personal statement?
The best information includes specifics about why you are right for the program you are applying for, why you are perfect for the specialty you are applying to, and relevant experiences that you have for your specialization.
7. How do I know which program to apply to?
The best criteria to use for the residency you want is deciding what you are passionate about and where you will thrive. Don’t worry about ratings – like if the place you are applying to is the “best” according to some list – worry more about whether you will fit in perfectly according to your goals and temperament.
8. What happens if I don’t match?
It’s rare to find no match at all – 5%, based on NRMP data – but it does happen. If that occurs, you will want to find out how to improve residency application after going unmatched. In a nutshell, you’re going to rebuild your application and try again. Don’t give up but get working harder than ever.
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!