Your primary method of communicating your qualifications and experiences to anesthesia residency programs is by writing a well organized and informative curriculum vitae (CV) and personal statement. These documents, in addition to your “Dean’s Letter” and letters of recommendation, will support your application.
The Curriculum Vitae
The purpose of the CV is to showcase your education, skills, and experiences in a concise and articulate format. It should be an honest and accurate representation of your qualifications for anesthesiology residency training.
ERAS will generate a CV for you with the information you enter.
To make a separate CV in addition to the ERAS CV (ex- for individuals who will be writing your letters of recommendation), here are some basic guidelines:
The Personal Statement
- Include: Name, address, permanent address (if different), email address, and phone numbers; education: undergraduate, graduate, medical school, research experience, abstracts, publications, conference presentations, work experiences, community service and volunteer experiences; honors and achievements; professional associations; references (it is okay to state “available on request” if you prefer); and optional items (ex- foreign language ability, special skills, and other interests).
- Your CV should be a clear and concise document. Here is a template you can use.
- Experiences are typically organized in reverse chronological order, with your current activities listed first. You can include substantial past experiences from before medical school if they will meaningfully contribute to your story.
- Highlight your accomplishments and activities using broad categories:
- Work experiences
- Volunteer/community service experiences
- Research experiences
- Presentations & Publications (can include poster presentations, case studies, etc. that are currently published, awaiting publication, or submitted for publication)
- Honors & Awards (can include clinical rotation honors)
- Membership in honorary/professional societies
- Print your CV on high quality paper for a professional appearance.
- No errors in spelling or punctuation!!!
Your personal statement and CV should not repeat the same information. The personal statement is your opportunity to convey information not found elsewhere in your application. its content should allow the reader to see you as an individual. Some considerations before you begin writing include.
- Ask someone that knows you well about your strengths and talents.
- Read some personal statement examples. Identify styles that appeal to you and incorporate these into your personal statement.
- Think about your own special strengths, talents, qualities, interests, accomplishments, and experiences. Make a list of these. Compare the items on your list with your idea of what might make a “perfect” resident in anesthesiology. Select attributes from your personal list that resemble or support the characteristics of the “ideal” resident and incorporate these as a focus of your personal statement. DO NOT concentrate on items shared by most applicants (ex- smart and hard working). Emphasize those items that show you to be the best possible candidate for a residency training program.
- Organize your thoughts and make an outline of each paragraph. You may want to describe a meaningful experience that led you to medicine or helped you choose anesthesiology.
- Make your first paragraph attention grabbing. Its subject matter can be non-medical, as long as you connect it later in your essay.
- Other paragraphs may describe your special skills, hobbies, or family life.
- You may want to write about your goals and what you are looking for in a training program.
- However you choose to structure your personal statement, it is important that you give a clear answer to "why anesthesiology?". Residency programs are looking for individuals who are committed to anesthesiology and demonstrate a reasonable understanding of what the field is like.
- Try to limit your personal statement to one page (on the ERAS application.)
- Consider submitting a modified or entirely different personal statement for transitional/preliminary programs.
- Consider personalizing your personal statement for your top anesthesia programs. This is often done in the final paragraph of your personal statement where you can talk about why you are interested in that program specifically and why you'd be a good fit.
- If you choose to personalize your personal statements, be sure to give your personal statements titles on ERAS (ex: Personal Statement - Program X). This will help you assign the correct statements to the correct programs. Residency programs will not see these titles. The last thing you want is a personalized personal statement going to the wrong program.
- Make your personal statement engaging!!
- Make your personal statement unique.
- Ask your faculty advisor, trusted family member or friend to review your statement. Sometimes a non-medical perspective can be helpful.
- Be sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors!! Many medical schools have writing centers that can proofread your personal statement for you, but the ultimate responsibility falls on you.
The Dean’s Letter and Letters of Recommendation
Meet with the Dean of Students to discuss your goals and review your records to ensure that your Dean’s letter will be realistic and favorable to your applications. You will have the opportunity to review your Dean’s Letter before submission.
You should submit 3 to 4 letters of recommendation to each program - one department letter (if available), at least one anesthesia letter, and 1-2 letters of your choice (Surgery, Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, etc.) If your school does not offer a department letter, you can choose to submit a meaningful letter from a significant experience (research, leadership, etc.) or another anesthesia letter.
For your transitional/prelim programs, you should include a medicine/surgery recommendation letter, as well as a medicine/surgery department letter (if available.)
Find letter writers that can comment on you as an individual and on your abilities. You can start collecting letters during your 3rd year. Even if a letter writer uploads your letter to ERAS, you do NOT have to submit it with your application. The writer will not know either way. It is better to have the letter on hand and choose not to use it, rather than fall short when your application is due.
What to send to your letter writers:
- Personal Statement - it does not have to be your 100% perfected final draft
- ERAS letter of recommendation request: This form has instructions for your letter writer to upload the letter to ERAS. It is recommended that you waive your right to see your letters.
- Instructions: Include a due date, usually about 4 weeks after requesting the letter. Be sure to account for unanticipated delays when selecting the due date.
In addition to writing letters of recommendation, some mentors may be willing to review your application materials (personal statement, CV, etc.) Make sure to stay in touch with your mentors and letter writers. Keep them updated throughout the application season. If you are seriously interested in a program where you are interviewing, your mentors may be able to connect you with a resident or faculty member at that institution. However, be mindful of your mentors' busy schedules and personal levels of comfort when making any requests.
Finding Program Information
The best place to find information about specific programs is the department web site.