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Dermatology Online Journal

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Value of personal statements to dermatology programs: a survey-based critical review


The personal statement is a required component of the residency application, offering applicants the opportunity to showcase their personality as well as unique thoughts and experiences not explicitly stated elsewhere in their application. Although the applicant-generated nature of personal statements can gauge an applicant's professionalism, creativity, sound judgement, and tact, specific criteria for evaluating personal statements and comparing them to one another is lacking. Research on the value of personal statements in the application process is also lacking. The purpose of this research project is to quantify the perceived value of the personal statement to program directors and faculty members of U.S. dermatology programs involved in residency application review. Analysis of our survey responses determined that although the majority of participants consider the personal statement to be a necessary element of an application, it was rated least important compared to other components of the application. An applicant's Medical Student Performance Evaluation, clerkship grades, research projects and publications, board scores, and letters of recommendation were consistently rated as more important than the personal statement. These findings suggest the personal statement lacks the standardization needed for decision makers to confidently choose the best new dermatology residents for their program.

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