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  • Writer's pictureRajani Katta MD and Samir Desai MD

Matching into a Competitive Residency:Importance of Writing a Compelling ERAS and Personal Statement

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

In this final installment of our 4-part blog series on matching into a competitive residency program, we will be discussing the final strategy: writing a compelling ERAS Application and Personal Statement. Feel free to revisit our previous posts in this series:

Write a strong personal statement that focuses on your connection to a program and its goals

Whenever you're crafting your application materials, it's really important to think about intersections: the intersection of what the program seeks and what you offer is incredibly important.

  • In other words, what are your own strengths, interests, and goals?

  • And how does that align with the program's strengths, interests, and goals?

Although we focus on a lot on our own goals, it’s important to remember that programs also have their own strengths and missions. If you start reading over their websites or talking to people in the know, such as current residents, you can start to see these take form.

Image of woman writing out her strengths.
Knowing your strengths and goals allows the program to match more with you based on your goals and interests.

For example, some programs are really interested in producing researchers, while other programs are interested in health care disparities or serving an underserved population. Some programs might be interested in producing clinician educators.

I also want to mention that many programs have particular strengths in a specific clinical area, such as a multidisciplinary multiple sclerosis clinic.

  • This is where a deep dive into a specific targeted program can teach you a lot more about what the program is all about.

  • Then once you've done that deep dive into the program, you can start taking a closer look at your own ERAS application and personal statement.

  • Start to really think about where your goals might align with the program's mission.

  • You can then start to think about how you can communicate that in your application materials.

The bottom line is that you want to make them want to meet you.

Highlight Your Specific Interests and Experiences

For this particular program, as you're thinking about your personal statement, you might think about highlighting a very specific aspect of your background. For example, you might choose to focus on your specific research interests, your advocacy work, your work in healthcare disparities, or any other work that aligns with the program’s goals.

  • For example, some of my students have had an experience in their past where they've worked in rural health care.

  • They now see, after researching the program, that this program has an interest in reducing healthcare disparities specifically in rural populations.

  • This is where they may choose to bring in one of those experiences and talk about that in their personal statement.

  • Even for students without that specific type of experience, they might be able to talk about their experience with telemedicine and how it might be applicable to the care of an underserved rural population.

This is just one example: there are many more that you can highlight.

Image of student on the computer researching and writing his interests.
Focus on your specific interests that can align with the programs.


In summary, there are a few important strategies that will be very valuable in setting you up for success in your residency match:

  • A focus on people and projects

  • Develop a strong connection to a program

  • Develop a relationship with a faculty advocate

  • Write a strong personal statement that focuses on your connection to a program and its goals

Certainly the foundation of matching into a competitive specialty or program is going to be strong clinical grades and scores, and that's definitely enough for most programs. If you have solid grades and scores and nothing concerning on your application, that's usually enough to get you past many application “filters”. Beyond that, however, if you're applying to a competitive program, or if you have concerns about your grades and scores, you really need to start thinking about instituting these types of strategies.

As you’re applying for residency, we wish all the best on your journey in medicine!

If you’d like to read further in this blog post series, please see our other posts:


Dr. Samir Desai is the author of The Successful Match: Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match and is co-founder of MD2B Connect, the most trusted and highest-rated provider of hands-on clinical experiences for IMGs in the U.S.

Dr. Rajani Katta is the creator of The Residency Interview 101, the online course that helps applicants quickly and confidently prepare for their residency interviews. She is also the co-author of The Successful Match: Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match and served as Professor of Dermatology at the Baylor College of Medicine for over 17 years.

If you'd like to receive a free 100+ page excerpt of The Successful Match, please sign up here.



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