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MedCAREERS - Phase 4 - Personal Letter

Personal Letter or Statement

What is a personal letter?
  • tells who you are
  • describes the experiences and events that shaped your personality, values, and goals

Why write a personal letter?
  • It is required
  • It helps readers better visualize you as an individual. It describes experiences that may or may not be included on your resume and explains how you developed into the person you are today
  • Selection committees read personal letters to see if anyone stands out from the crowd. So your personal letter must include information about you that is not found anywhere else in your application materials.
  • All applicants are “hard-working, disciplined, and dedicated to delivering excellent health care.” This is boring! Stand out from the crowd by elaborating on your personal issues, life-changing experiences, family, goals and expectations.
  • Remember: you are unique and your personal letter must communicate that to the reader.

The Velcro Strategy

You want your personal letter to “stick” to the reader’s mind so that you stand out from your competition. An applicant’s experience may mentally “link” him/her with interviewer’s looking for applicants who “fit” with their departments, e.g. hockey player.

Be careful though! Do not describe personal expectations or goals which that particular institution cannot provide.

Roadblocks to Composing a Personal Letter
  • Most people dislike writing positive things about themselves.
  • Most people don’t recognize their unique talents and traits.
  • People tend to compare themselves to others.
  • Many people try to write their personal letter without a strategy.
  • Some people have so much to write about that they don’t know where to begin.

“Marketing” Yourself
Use your personal letter to show selection committees that you are the best possible candidate for the position. Tell them what you have done and how you will enhance their department. This is a powerful way to market yourself.

   1. Think of what programs want in a candidate.
   2. Identify the qualifications you possess.
   3. Match the 2 lists and use your personal letter to describe the qualifications you have that        directors desire.

Personal Letter - Summary

The personal letter is a statement of your career objectives in medicine. It should be succinct but still provide the reader with an overview of who you are and where you are headed. It should include the following:
  1.  A statement of your professional background.
  2.  A brief overview of your academic and clinical qualifications. Although this information is on your CV you will want to provide a summary here. Expand on what is in your CV and add additional information as appropriate.
  3. Most of the focus of the personal letter should reflect on why you chose medicine as a career and why you are committing to the specialty you are now applying for. You may also want the personal letter to focus on why you are pursuing a particular location in your search for a residency position.
  4. Discuss your career goals. Explain what you want to do in your career in this specialty. Discuss the qualities that attracted you to the program.
  5. Finally include any humanizing information that might let the reader see who you are as a person. If there are community activities or other experiences that may be relevant include them here.

Make sure your personal letter is:

  • It should be a statement that reflects your personality and style.
  • The information in your personal letter should be relevant to your residency and future training. This is not intended to be autobiographical.
  • Be honest in describing yourself and your goals.
  • Make your personal letter one that shows the unique qualities you bring to medicine and the residency.


Resumes and Personal Statements for Health Professionals by James W. Tysinger


NOTE: The Director of MedCAREERS will be happy to review the personal letters of any student graduating from MUN Faculty of Medicine and provide feedback. Simply send it as a Word document by email to Dr. Teri Stuckless and she will review it for you using 'track changes'.


MUN Sample Personal Letters

The following personal letters were written by applicants who trained at MUN Medical School and are for illustrative purposes only.  They are made available with the students' permission and all identifiers have been removed.

It is strictly prohibited to copy an entire letter or any parts of a letter.


Community Medicine
Community Medicine_1

Emergency Medicine
Emergency Medicine_1

Internal Medicine
Internal Medicine_1
Internal Medicine_2
Internal Medicine_3

Family Medicine
Family Medicine_1




Obstetrics and Gynecology
Obstetrics and Gynecology_1



Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation
Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation_1

Radiation Oncology
Radiation Oncology_1


General Surgery_1
Cardiac Surgery_2

Useful Links for Personal Letters
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