Why look at oncology personal statement examples? Perhaps you are tired of looking for tips, tricks, or how-to writing guides. Perhaps you just know you learn better this way. Expertly written residency personal statement examples can give you great ideas. Reading over the examples included here will show you what to include, how to strike the right tone, and how to avoid red flags in residency personal statements. Between these examples and a residency prep course, you’ll see what a difference this can make in your own writing.

This article provides examples and specific tips for what to include in an oncology residency personal statement.

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Oncology Residency Personal Statement Examples Tips on Writing an Oncology Personal Statement Conclusion FAQs

Oncology Residency Personal Statement Examples

Oncology Residency Personal Statement #1

When I was a boy, I always knew what I was going to be when I grew up, and although it was a lofty goal, I pursued it with gusto throughout my young life and teenage years. Of course, I’m not talking about being a doctor. I was going to be a Major League baseball player. So, what am I doing writing a letter for a residency as an oncologist?

It’s the result of a bout with cancer that claimed my lower leg, forcing me to adopt, first, crutches, and then a prosthesis. I also realized that part of my recovery plan would necessarily include the psychological adjustment to knowing that I would never play in the Major Leagues. No matter how fast my fastball was, it wouldn’t really matter if I couldn’t take a base without hobbling around on crutches to get there.

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This was the catalyst which led me to pursue a career as a physician, and specifically one who would beat cancer in all its forms. My journey to med school was a tricky one. I had been a bit of a brash athlete – so single-minded in my devotion to sports that I had let my grades slip. However, although my goal had changed, my determination remained strong. I worked a part-time job to earn money for a tutor, got my grades back up, and made my way to medical school.

I had selected a program which put students into internal medicine quickly, knowing that I would need an intimate knowledge of the workings of the human body to hunt down cancerous elements and fight them. The institution I studied at placed internal medicine front and center and gave me the solid foundation I needed for my studies.

Lab work became my true passion, however, and I spent many extra hours working in the lab, assisting with research. While I studied, I learned a greater patience than I had known before, as experiments – done right – take time. The lab also fueled my natural curiosity and opened up new ideas. While experimenting with lipids and how they are released into the blood stream and trying out faster or slower methods, we were frustrated by numerous setbacks and problems. However, with perseverance, meticulous note-keeping – more patience – and careful adjustment of our methods, we arrived at our goal: almost completely inconclusive results. I laughed. The work was fascinating, the drive was still there, and we could try again tomorrow. Inconclusive results still tell us something, even if it is not what we are hoping for. The lab fires my curiosity, tests my patience, and might be frustrating sometimes, but it always provides the opportunity to press on. If quitting were something I was interested in, I’d be sitting in a wheelchair somewhere, just being gloomy about not playing baseball.

Naturally, anatomy also fascinates me, and although I was tempted to continue with bioengineering and research prosthetics, my true goal was to return to the fight I felt I had lost all those years ago. Finally, my clinical rotations brought me into the world of oncology, and again, I had a lot to learn. I came to battle the illness, but I learned that just as important is caring for the soldiers in the fight. Patients bring their own worries, cares, determination, and strengths into the cancer wards, and as an oncologist, my job will be to support them and empower them.

The hardest aspect of working in that clinic was when one patient decided that no treatment – just comfort care – was best for them. As much as my own fighting spirit wanted to say, “No, you can beat this!” I had to respect their decisions. Through those decisions, I was shown the dignity of living and dying on your own terms. I also started to realize that cancer is not a war – at least not for the patient. Some people find it helpful to look at it that way, but others do not, as it is a rhetoric of winners and losers. For myself, I am open to adjusting my viewpoint – and language – and looking at cancer as the enemy I will fight within the body – for the patient – with my expertise. 

I am most interested in surgical oncology, and my manual dexterity is still pretty good from my athletic days. However, in addition to surgery, I want to someday work in a clinic that respects all ways of dealing with one of the hardest diseases around. I also want to continue contributing to laboratories and research and eliminating or severely reducing the cancers out there while simultaneously increasing our treatments, care, and cures. “The cure for cancer” might sound like a lofty goal, but I believe that your program is perfect for this.

Your program has a reputation for pushing students to test and extend their limits farther than they could before. I appreciate the qualities of passion, drive, and support for one another through strength and weakness that characterize your program. Plus, I heard a rumor that the oncology residents play regular softball games together. I can’t promise that I will take a lot of bases, but I think I might have a pitch or two left in me.

Maybe this is ambitious, but your program is ambitious, and I want to swing for the fences.

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Oncology Personal Statement #2

There are days I’m convinced that I was grown in a laboratory, or at least born in one. I’m a lab rat. I have always been very comfortable around all the Bunsen burners and Erlenmeyer flasks. There’s something just so cozy about a lab coat, so comforting about an eye wash station. Maybe that’s just me, but my love of the lab led me to my interest in medicine and oncology.

My program in medical school was an MD-PhD, which I think I selected so that I could spend more time in the lab than ever. The latest research has been investigating cancer’s relationship to diet, obesity, and other health issues. European studies have found connections between cancer and certain fat molecules. I wanted to explore this, and so I oriented my PhD toward verifying findings and building on those experiments. I am conducting experiments to investigate how I can use reduction of fat cells to slow down or halt cancerous growth. So far, we are making good progress, particularly with fat cells related to certain oils and internal cancers. There is still a long way to go, but I believe we are getting there.

Knowing that I am contributing – if only in a small way – to such a milestone in humanity’s medical achievements is satisfying when I hang up my lab coat at the end of a long day. Cancer is still one of the worst afflictions we face and being able to take it down a notch is extremely satisfying and rewarding.

My dream and goal are therefore to continue to work in a laboratory in addition to my work as a physician. I always want to be helping to combat cancer on multiple fronts, in the clinic and in the lab, and I believe that my dual experiences in both fields will greatly enhance the efficacy of my efforts in the other area.

During medical school, I had the opportunity to work with several oncologists by shadowing and assisting on their rounds. This brought me face-to-face with the world in which oncologists live. I will be completely honest: parts of it are scary, and I continue to admire the fortitude of doctors who must look patients in the eye and deliver a number like “seven months” in a compassionate yet direct way. I also gained practical knowledge in terms of treatments for cancer and the various options available to oncologists. Finally, as part of my clinical experiences, I have sat with families and held their hands, literally and figuratively, and been shown that treatment involves medicine but also emotional support.

I also came to understand the importance of the subtle variations of oncology used to combat cancer. Radiation oncology, hematology, surgery, and urology – just to name a few – all contribute to diagnosis and care. This is a large field where there is always something new to learn. That is both humbling and exciting for me.

While working with these oncologists, I learned how to proceed through treatment methods, how to guide patients to the best option for their personal treatment, and how to act quickly by prioritizing and managing patients’ needs and one’s time. Radiation oncology has captured my attention as one of the most effective methods of cancer treatment. I also think that my laboratory research can, and will, ultimately make radiation treatment more efficient by increasing its efficacy against cancer while simultaneously reducing its negative effects on patients. Balancing life expectancy and quality of life is a daily dilemma of oncologists. We need to develop better methods, and I would like to contribute to the research that achieves success in that regard.

Ultimately, your program will prove to be the best place to do that. With your state-of-the-art technology and laboratories, I will have the necessary facilities to work at maximum efficiency, which will also propel my learning. Your program is heavily focused on research and development, and my goals and temperament are perfectly aligned with this reality.

I believe that I can make a strong contribution to the world of oncology and that my contribution will be all the stronger for being in your program. Likewise, I believe that given my curiosity, exploration, and scientific approach to medicine, I will be an ideal candidate for your program, which puts a premium on all those qualities.

In the lab or in the clinic, with patients emotionally, or fighting to find treatments, I believe I will be a dedicated learner and make a fine member of your team.

Tips on Writing an Oncology Personal Statement

The first thing to remember when writing a personal statement is that the main goal is to present yourself as the perfect match for the residency to which you are applying. That should always be your ultimate aim. Use aspects of your history, experience, and studies that best show your compatibility with the residency.

What are the specific qualities of an oncology residency that you will need to highlight?

There are many different kinds of oncologists, too. Know your career goals before applying to residency. Highlight these goals and especially how the program you are applying to will help you. Depending on the type of oncologist you wish to become, you might want to highlight different skills.


Using these expert tips, as well as the examples presented, you should find yourself in a prime position to write your own oncology residency personal statement. Keep focused on your ambitions and goals and grab on to those dreams.


1. How long should I take to write my personal statement?

You should set aside a little time each day for two to six weeks. Give yourself time to write, re-write, edit, and proofread, as well as time to get feedback from fresh eyes.

2. How long should my personal statement be?

Around 750–900 words, based on the ERAS application, although this might change from residency to residency. Be sure to check whether your particular program has any specific guidelines or word limits.

3. What will an oncology residency want to hear about me?

Your understanding of oncology, lab experience, a strong knowledge of internal medicine, any experiences you have with cancer, and how well you handle speaking to a patient and their friends and family are the best experiences, skills, and background that you can put to the forefront in your personal statement. Oncology – dealing with cancer – can be very personal, and if you feel comfortable sharing a personal connection, that can be very compelling.

4. What is important in a personal statement?

Always focus on the residency you want, who you are, and how you can match the two. This is the point of “matching”: finding a residency that you’re perfect for, and vice versa. Give the reader the best reasons for why you are the best candidate for their program, specifically. It must be individualized. Show-don’t-tell with experiences related to your residency; include at least a brief mention of career goals and ambitions, too.

5. What should I avoid in my personal statement?

Avoid generalizing – the opposite of matching yourself to the program – as well as any arrogance or other unappealing qualities – particularly regarding tone. Ensure that you are not repeating content from other parts of your application. If you have red flags in your residency CV, you need to address those in your personal statement.

6. How important are spelling and grammar to my chances?

They are important. Although not of paramount importance, every aspect of your application should be impeccable, so have no grammar or spelling issues. If this is so important to you – and it is – send that message by caring for all aspects of the personal statement – like spelling and grammar.

7. How do I choose the best program?

Don’t think of it in terms of the “best” program. Think of it in terms of the best program for you. This is knowing how you learn, what your goals are, and how you might go about optimizing your experiences for the future you want. You might not thrive in a big school, for instance, so if the “best” oncology program is too big, you won’t get as much out of it as a school that didn’t get the top ranking in a respected periodical, but which has a more intimate learning environment.

8. What happens if I don’t match?

While not matching is rare, it does happen. If it happens to you, you need to think about how to improve residency application after going unmatched. Mostly you will be preparing for a second attempt, which might include boosting your resume or taking extra courses.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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