The following article is satire.
We’re again approaching that time of year for medical students: ERAS application season. As students whimper and wonder if they’re making the right career choice, as they set their dreams on a specialty but have been told they need a “backup,” while determining their geographical boundaries of where they can possibly think of living for the next three to who-knows-how-many-years. With all this chaos, they must sit and write a genuine personal statement on why they absolutely adore their applied-for specialty and how it was always “the one,” and they never faltered. They gush over that time when they were seven, and their grandmother was ill in the hospital, and her doctor was just wonderful, and they knew, they just knew from that moment that they wanted to be … a pathologist.
The personal statement has turned into an allegiance to the “chosen one,” a vow of ’til death do us part, a pre-contract-signing stream of consciousness on why this is clearly a wonderful decision. There is an entire paragraph dedicated to the importance of the field to medicine, how the cogs cannot turn without it, and how you yearn to help patients, but in reality, they’re the ones actually helping you realize your dream, for which you are beyond grateful for this privilege. Applicants spend an inordinate amount of time fretting on comma placements and using every synonym of “amazing” to describe their love of their chosen field. In a residency application season filled with decisions, sub-internships, USMLE Step 2 studying and many emotional breakdowns, do you clone yourself to get it all done, or do you give a half-hearted attempt to just get it over with?
In conclusion (please don’t start your last paragraph with “in conclusion”), write something short and sweet. Programs interview multiple candidates daily and reviewing each application in full can be daunting. You received an interview invite based on ERAS filters the program set, so you already have your foot in the door. Don’t have them yawning at a two-page extravaganza of your life story that makes them wonder if you know what full stops are and cringing at thoughts that were better left unsaid. Because honestly (also don’t start a sentence with “because”), who even reads these personal statements?
Maha Al-Ghafry is a hematologist-oncologist.
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