Mining for Gold – The Personal Statement in General Surgery Residency Candidate Selection
Gordana Rasic, MD, Aaron Richman, MD, Donald Hess, MD, Luise I. Pernar, MD, MHPE
Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Introduction: The personal statement (PS) may be the key to identifying applications to interview as numeric data is becoming scarce and holistic application review is emphasized.
Methods: As part of a holistic two-phased review, the PSs in applications submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for a categorical general surgery position in our program in the 2022 match were read in detail and scored on a scale from 0-5 (0 average; 3 well-written; 5 creative, superbly written, conveys a strong sense of the candidate as potential resident and surgeon). Other factors (e.g research and extracurriculars) were also scored; maximal attainable score for an application was 55points. All personal statements were also qualitatively explored.
Results: 312 applications underwent second phase review; 112 applicants were interviewed. The average score for all PSs was 3.7 (mode 4). The average score for all PSs written by those not invited for an interview was 3.5. The average score for all PSs written by applicants invited for an interview was 4. The differences in scores for those not invited to interview and those invited to interview was statistically significant (p<0.05). Qualitative review revealed that interviewed applicants included discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, social determinants of health, or service to the underserved more frequently.
Discussion/Conclusion: PSs of applicants invited for an interview at our institution were scored higher and touched on themes aligned with our hospital’s mission. As other factors in an application become harder to interpret, the personal statement should move to greater importance in the holistic review.
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