College of Medicine and Life Sciences News

Bake a Personal Statement PIE

apple pie

Home Made Apple Pie https://flic.kr/p/5CjH2D

A frequent issue with personal statements is that they are not coherent. You only get about a page to make your case–as such, it is crucial that your reader is able to easily follow your flow and immediately understand what you are trying to communicate.

Along with being honest and accurate as well as 100% free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, having a coherent, well-organized and logical structure is the very least of what your personal statement should be.

One writing tool that may help in this regard is using a PIE [Point-Illustration-Explanation] structure for your paragraphs of your statement.

1. First, decide on the structure of your statement as a whole. For a page long document you really only have enough space for three to four paragraphs. Using this as a template, decide what each paragraph should accomplish.

For example:

¶1: Early interest in specialty+the two main reasons why I am passionate about specialty;

¶2: The three main skills/assets I will bring to the specialty;

¶3: What I am looking for in my specialty training.

2. Make sure each of your paragraphs has a clearly articulated POINT. The point is just that: the point of your paragraph…what your paragraph is about. Your point must relate to the overall thesis, theme, or “brand” of your personal statement.

Example:

…As a field that continuously changes through medical and technological advances, dermatology encourages the ability to engage in research. I have embraced this aspect of the specialty…

3. Your point should be ILLUSTRATED by supporting evidence: examples, summaries, and/or descriptions. This should be specific rather than general—remember to “show,” not “tell.”

Example:

…As a field that continuously changes through medical and technological advances, dermatology encourages the ability to engage in research. I have embraced this aspect of the specialty by completing a study following my first year of medical school observing trends in basal cell carcinoma in an individual surgery practice, and through my current project co-authoring a chapter on different types of skin cancer.…

4. Your EXPLANATION should be your comment, analysis, interpretation, reflection or elaboration of your illustration. Lead the reader by the hand—show her/him what you want her/him to get from your point and illustration.

Example:

…As a field that continuously changes through medical and technological advances, dermatology encourages the ability to engage in research. I have embraced this aspect of the specialty by completing a study following my first year of medical school observing trends in basal cell carcinoma in individual surgery practice, and through my current project coauthoring a chapter on different types of skin cancer. I anticipate continuing in research throughout residency and my career in academic dermatology.

Note that there will likely be more than one sentence for pieces of this structure–especially for Illustrations. Also, you do not have to structure each paragraph with Point-Illustration-Explanation in that order.

Further, you may decide to structure your statement more creatively than PIE and that is fine–it is your personal statement. But it may be helpful to at least begin your early drafts with an explicit PIE structure, than change it up in your final draft once you are sure you’re at least communicating these basics.

However, remember that a personal statement for residency generally is not meant to be a creative writing exercise. It is meant to clearly communicate your brand to residency program search committee members so that they will want to invite you for an interview.  As such, PIE could help you move your ideas from a jumbled mess that will leave readers confused, to a concise and clear introduction of you.

 

 

 

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