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Pharmacy Residency: Personal Statement Overview

Pharmacy Residency Preparation Specialists

Your personal statement is a vital part of the application process. You must not underestimate the impact that it can have – it will provide assessors and program directors with an idea of your writing style, and thus some insight into your written communication skills in general. A great personal statement can be a huge asset to any applicant, as it can stand to set them apart from others. That said, you should remember that the personal statement is not a writing assignment, so much as it is a chance to accurately and professionally convey what makes you stand out, and of course what makes you a good fit for the program in particular. That means that you must focus on using correct grammar and punctuation, and on clear, efficient communication. In order to achieve this, you must treat the process as one of repeated iterations and development – work consistently to create something that is readable and that inspires genuine interest in the program director who is reading it. It should convey your personality, and why you’re a great fit.

Your personal statement is uploaded to PhORCAS (the Pharmacy Online Residency Centralised Application Service).

When writing the personal statement, be yourself – don’t try to get too creative, especially if this doesn’t suit your personality or how you would normally write or express yourself. The same can also be said for any other supplementary application materials. Avoid being too flowery with your writing – this is a professional document, and efficient, professional writing will be viewed very positively by the program directors assessing you. Equally, you should avoid a personal statement that is far too general, and lacks any specifics – this will be clear immediately to program directors, and they will realise that you are reusing the same content for multiple different programs, rather than making a concerted effort to truly tailor your personal statement towards them and their program. That means that you should have a rough idea of what to write for each program – a skeleton of sorts – and then use this to create a personalised document for each one. You can use the same attributes and experiences, but tie them in with the specific program.

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Personal Statement: Overall Structure

In terms of its broader structure, the personal statement should be seen as being akin to a typical professional letter. That means that you should print it on high-quality paper, if it needs to be printed, and that you should address it specifically to the name of the residency program director, with their name and title both correct. Don’t send out letters that do not have a specific name attached to them – i.e. avoid saying ‘Dear Program Director’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ etc. You don’t need to attach your own personal details as you would in a CV; this information will already be available to them.

The first paragraph of your personal statement should be used to introduce yourself and outline the position for which you are applying. You should make your professional goals clear, and be as specific as you can. Doing so will instil confidence in those reading the personal statement. Being able to state where you want to go in your career, and why, shows ambition and drive and will be immediately attractive for those tasked with assessing the document.

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The second paragraph should be used to pinpoint why you, in particular, are so suitable for the position. That means focusing on your most important attributes (and reflecting on how you have demonstrated them), on your particular skills, and on specific experiences that show your value as a potential resident at their program. If you are interested in a fellowship (i.e. if you are applying for a fellowship rather than a PGY1 position), then you should outline why additional training is important to you, and how you are suited for it. This might require a separate paragraph, or could be included within the rest of the second paragraph.

The third paragraph should be used to close the letter and politely touch on what you believe the next steps might be. For example, you might outline that you will wait for the RPD to arrange an interview at their convenience.

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