personal statement examples are a great tool to use when crafting your own personal statement. If you’re , you know how tough it can be to put your thoughts and experiences on the page. Read some of our examples and tips on writing a great personal statement for a competitive match like ophthalmology to get you started. In this blog, we’ll look at what is required for ophthalmology residency personal statements, some personal statement examples and a few tips to get you started.
The ophthalmology residency match is relatively competitive in both the US and Canada, with a match rate of 68% in the US and 71% in Canada. To stand out from the qualified crowd, an ophthalmology residency personal statement can give you an opportunity to tell your story and make yourself a unique applicant in the eyes of ophthalmology programs.
Ophthalmology programs in the US participate in the San Francisco Match, or the SF Match, as opposed to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) used by other medical residency programs in the US. Canadian applicants can apply to ophthalmology programs through .
Ophthalmology residency match rates in the US and Canada
It should be noted that there were recent changes to the SF Match residency personal statement requirements. Applicants must now submit a 500-word autobiographical sketch, instead of the 1,000-word residency personal statement. Applicants will also receive a list of standardized short essay questions and be asked to respond to two of them in 250 words or less.
Use your ophthalmology residency personal statement to highlight the personal qualities, values, skills and life experience that contributed to your decision to study ophthalmology and that make you an ideal candidate. You can also contextualize some of the information in your CV and talk about your future career aspirations.
Two of the students in my high school biology class vomited when it came time to perform the dissection in our second term of senior year. A record-breaking number from previous years, according to my teacher, Mrs. Aztrakan. Instead of the commonly provided frogs to dissect, inspect, label and report on, we were given cows’ eyeballs on shiny, stainless-steel platters. I remember thinking they were bigger than I expected, but at least the smell of disinfectant and sights of a slimy eyeball being cut in half didn’t cause me to lose my lunch. Biology class had always been a favorite class of mine, and the dissection class was an experience that stuck with me.
Aside from science, my other passion growing up was helping others. I was deemed the sibling with the natural caring instinct in my family, the mother-hen of my group of friends. I never shied away from an opportunity to lend someone a hand, offer some comforting words or ask someone if they needed help. During high school these traits and my growing interest in science of course developed into a desire to study medicine. As I began planning my eventual journey through university, medical school and beyond, I always envisioned myself as a family medicine practitioner. Another early memory that has stayed with me is the experiences of our yearly visit to our family doctor. Dr. Yowtz probably moonlighted as a stand-up comedian because her jokes were just as side-splitting as her calm demeanor and easy manner was soothing to my siblings and I from our early years all the way up to adulthood. Whatever trouble we got into, Dr. Yowtz was there to patch us up, help us laugh through pain or provide some sage life advice on the wisdom of not trying to pull a wheelie on a bicycle on an unpaved road. For me, family medicine was the perfect career for me.
My perspective was changed when I entered my clerkship years and was able to experience first-hand what the day-to-day life of a family medicine practitioner was like. It was comfortable, it was routine, it was fulfilling. But it didn’t excite me or stimulate me the way I had expected. Back in biology dissection lab, the challenge of the eyeball was so interesting, requiring patience and skill, revealing fascinating structures and textures with every slice. It was a wonder to me that the structures I was seeing were organic, were in fact capable of allowing sight through an paradoxically complex process and simple element.
This fascination was rekindled when I had the chance to observe an ophthalmology surgical procedure. A relatively simple surgery, but it reignited the curiosity and sense of challenge I’d been seeking. And I managed not to vomit in witnessing this procedure, meaning I have retained my strong stomach.
As an ophthalmologist, I believe I can combine my desire for a small practice focused on family, while also doing challenging and rewarding work in medicine.
Growing up, I was never the kid to ask a million times: “why?” Instead, I was that annoying kid who asked the more pertinent question of “how?” From the time I was old enough to watch my dad in his home workshop, drilling and cutting and shaping with various tools, I relentlessly asked how things worked. How they did the job they were designed to do. On school field trips, it was the same, and I continued to annoy museum docents, facility tour guides, a very patient dairy farmer and my dad with my endless follow up questions.
My consuming interest with how things worked was focused at first on the amazing technology of anything mechanical. Any type of machinery, I wanted to take it apart to learn its inner workings. My dad’s power tools were never the same. In high school I was able to temper my curiosity with shop class, physics courses and extracurricular volunteer work with the shop teacher’s mechanic shop based at the school. I was eager to get my hands dirty and take on new challenges. These new challenges turned into experiments, wherein I tried my hand at inventing, or simply devised ways to make something work better than it had before. At this stage in my pursuit of the answer to the almighty question, I began to read everything I could get my hands on that sounded remotely related to my interests in technology, machines and invention.
It was through this in invention that my love of medicine was sparked. For there are few fields as innovative, as relentlessly forward driving and curious. And maybe it appeased me somewhat to know that medicine did, in fact, have the answers to some of those “how” questions. And the ones it didn’t, it was looking into. In medicine I have found a place where I can continue to pursue my purpose, but give it a direction to aim in.
In all my research and reading, I have found few specialties as absorbing as ophthalmology. It is a discipline which relies on technology and innovation but allows one to get right in the action and figure out the solution with one’s own hands. I was privileged to be able to witness this combination of innovative technology being wielded by human hands during my clinical years, when a very young patient was admitted with a globe rupture in need of immediate surgery. Without the technological advancements, it would not have been so easy to fix the problem. Without the human curiosity, we would have never known how to fix it.
The chance to continue learning, reading and researching, discovering new solutions and technologies, the opportunity to get all my “how” answers, is undeniably appealing to me. More than that, the potential of answering some of those “how” questions myself is an ambition of mine. Therefore, I have chosen ophthalmology as my specialty. There is simply nothing else like it.
Working on your residency CV? Watch this video!
My interest in ophthalmology is inextricably tied to my connection with the elderly. It is true that few of us appreciate our grandparents, even great-grandparents, until they are gone. I consider myself fortunate to have lived in a multi-generational household, with my widowed grandmother raising me right alongside my parents. I have also been lucky to have “adopted” grandparents throughout my life. The first of these adopted grandparents was our long-time neighbour, Patricia. Aside from being a fixed grandmother figure in my young life, she was also blind.
Patricia, having lived a full life already by the time I was 10 years old, had been blind for decades by the time my family moved in next door. She lived alone, in a remote area, but her blindness had never slowed her down. Visiting her each week, helping out with chores and having tea on her back porch, I learned a great deal about the realities and misconceptions of living with an ocular disease. Today, the condition which led to her blindness is very treatable, but decades ago, it wasn’t common to seek treatment and it wasn’t readily available. Even so, Patricia carried on with her life and adapted to her new realities.
Her kind of self-reliance and positivity is something I admired in my own grandmother as well, who was of a similar age and mindset. As I grew older and began volunteering in care homes and developing an interest in a career in medicine, I found many more adopted grandparents to draw inspiration from. Of course, the downside of being so self-reliant is that it can sometimes translate to an inability or reluctance to ask for help or take care of oneself. Many of the elderly patients I helped to care for sometimes neglected their regular well-being and health, believing that there was no problem until it was a problem. Remembering Patricia’s insistence on handling her own affairs with as little assistance as possible, I employed my old tactics with her to my patients, trying to find that balance between encouraging regular attention to health and respect for independence.
My volunteer work continued to fuel a desire to go into geriatric care, and during my medical school years I especially enjoyed making friends with my more elderly patients. There was a common joke in my group that I could persuade even the most stubborn, set-in-their-ways patient to consider an alternative or accept a compromise. And after seeing so many other patients suffering from common eye diseases that are easily treatable, my passion for senior health advocacy has grown.
As brilliant and inspiring as Patricia was, others like her could continue to benefit from having an advocate in their corner, to help prevent the eye-related illness and afflictions so common in the elderly. My hope is to use my passion and bond with senior patients to serve them better and provide the best care possible.
Need to address a gap in your residency application in your personal statement? Check out this infographic.
1. Is the personal statement for ophthalmology residency required?
Yes, ophthalmology programs require all applicants to submit a personal statement as part of the application package.
2. How do I write a personal statement for ophthalmology residency?
Ophthalmology residency personal statements need to be an autobiographical sketch covering who you are, what experiences led you to choose the field of ophthalmology, what your future career goals are and why you are an ideal candidate.
3. How long is the ophthalmology residency personal statement?
The ophthalmology residency personal statement needs to be a 500-word autobiographical sketch, as well as two 250-word short essays in response to a list of standardized questions.
4. How important is the ophthalmology residency personal statement?
The personal statement is a key part of your application, since it will tell the programs you’ve applied to why you are a good fit. The personal statement provides some of your background and allows the program selection committee some insight into your motivations and experiences.
5. What should I not include in a residency personal statement?
Avoid cliches and talking about why the field of ophthalmology is interesting. In short, don’t tell the selection committee what you think they want to hear or something they’ve already heard many times before.
6. How can I stand out in my ophthalmology personal statement?
Standing out from a crowd of qualified applicants is hard, but its easier to do if you tell a story with your personal statement. Stories are more compelling, and your reader is more likely to remember details about you if they are delivered through a story. Using storytelling will also allow you to dig deep and get more personal with your writing, which translates to a bigger impact on the page for your reader.
7. How do I start a residency personal statement?
Start your residency statement with a compelling first sentence or “hook”. Read some personal statement examples to see how they start their introduction paragraph. The main point of the first sentence is to grab the reader’s attention.
8. How do you sell yourself in a residency personal statement?
Personal statements are considered an “elevator pitch” of sorts in which what you’re pitching is you. In order to sell yourself as the best candidate for a program, you want to highlight the skills, values, attributes and experiences you have that make an ideal ophthalmologist resident.