How to Draft a Strategic Residency Personal Statement

Each year residency applicants ask me if they need to showcase their accomplishments in their residency personal statements if they’ve already drafted strong ERAS activities sections. The simple answer is yes.

First, remember that you don’t know at what part of your application the readers will be starting. If a residency director peruses your personal statement first and it’s thin and boring, you’ll have lost that reader from the beginning.

Also, note that the faculty members seeing your application are reading many more ERASes than just yours. If you only mention an important achievement once in your application, the program director might simply forget your accomplishment. After all, s/he is reading hundreds of similar applications. Your readers need to be reminded several times of your candidacy’s strengths. (You’ll mention those accomplishments again in your interviews.)

To a program director who hasn’t yet met you, you are what you’ve done. You need to use substantive examples of your achievements to demonstrate your worthiness for a potential residency position. Evidence is persuasive; use it!

Tags: , ,

Looking for a Laugh?

Over a decade ago the American College of Emergency Physicians solicited its members to submit a true story to the television show “Untold Stories of the ER.” Lo and behold, my story was chosen, and my husband and I were invited to act in a fictionalized rendition of my tale. If you’re interested in seeing it, check out Netflix’s “Untold Stories” episode 17.


Tags: , ,

Be an Adult: Don’t Accept Helicopter Parenting

Check out this hilarious (and sad) piece in the New York Times about helicopter parenting and note that two of the anecdotes are physician related. (Can you imagine interviewing for an attending position with your dad present?)

My policy at Insider is to work exclusively with applicants (not parents or spouses) to maintain confidentiality, avoid redundancy, and ensure candidates assume primary responsibility for their work. It’s a winning strategy.

Tags: , ,

Reading this Article Could Make You Wealthier than Working Long Hospital Shifts

Work smarter, not harder. Read this funny, informative Student Doctor Network article by Dr. David Presser on financial literacy for the newly minted physician. Have little idea what an “alternative asset class” really means? Don’t know which is a bear- and which is a bull-market? This piece is for you. Learn that do-it-yourself investing is not that hard with the technological tools now at our finger tips and start saving so that you can gain financial independence early. Also, check out Dr. Presser’s blog at

Tags: , ,

Inaccuracies in Medical Student Grades Translate into Residency Application Strategy

Here’s an interesting article by Dr. Pauline Chen on medical student grades. In reading the article, residency applicants should reflect on how important the content of their letters of recommendation is, especially in the setting of medical school grades that may be inflated or simply inaccurate. The 2016 NRMP Program Director Survey supports the importance of letters, as well, with statistics. Make sure your letters are very strong; remember that mediocre letters should not be a part of your residency package.

Tags: , ,

About Dr. Michelle Finkel

Dr. Michelle Finkel

Dr. Finkel is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. On completing her residency at Harvard, she was asked to stay on as faculty at Harvard Medical School and spent five years teaching at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital. She was appointed to the Assistant Residency Director position for the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency where she reviewed countless applications, personal statements and resumes. Read more

Receive FREE Insider Medical Admissions Tips