Acute Care Surgery Residency Personal Statements


A desire to positively impact the lives of others while being intellectually engaged and constantly challenged led me into medicine. Those same goals, combined with insights gained through hands-on experiences of my medical school training, lead me to pursue a career in general surgery. [ Perfect. You jump right in and state your career choice. Most people take too long to do this.]The patients I encountered have given me insights into the problems I will treat, and the physicians with whom I have worked have shown me the kind of doctor I will strive to be. On the first day of my surgery clerkship, I was introduced to Mrs. R, who had undergone colon resection. My role on the team was to undress her abdominal wounds each morning so that we could monitor their healing. New to surgery, I had little experience with open wounds, and the idea that I should stuff damp gauze into a deep hole in this woman’s abdomen seemed foreign. I soon grew accustomed to this ritual and understand its usefulness and the daily dressing changes were my first experience of using my hands in the interest of healing. They provided me with an opportunity to practice using both speed and gentleness to minimize discomfort to the patient. In addition to numerous lessons that Mrs. R taught me about caring for patients on a personal level, by participating in her care I was also able to appreciate the complex decision-making that will be part of my daily life as a surgeon. With a bowel perforation threatening her tenuous health status we were convinced that she required intervention in spite of the risks that operation would pose. Decisions like these will require me to balance risks inherent with any operation with benefits that may be realized, and may always remind me of Mrs. R.

On the surgical oncology service, the operating room initially drew me to the field of surgery. The ability of the attending surgeon to remove and often cure the manifestations of a disease which could have ended the patient’s life was inspiring. The beauty and complexity of human anatomy drove me to learn all that I could about the structure and function of the human body. What’s more, the interaction of the teaching surgeon with the residents encouraged me that I too could master the techniques necessary to cure or ameliorate disease as a surgeon. While my experiences in the operating room were what originally captured my imagination, I have since found that diagnosing disease, determining the proper course of treatment in each scenario, and caring for complicated surgical patients are rewarding and challenging in their own right. General surgery will allow me to utilize strengths I have developed thus far, including an ease of repoire with patients, an ability to educate patients regarding their health and disease, and an intense curiosity. An ideal training program is one with a strong commitment to resident education, in both clinical and didactic formats. Further training and practice will allow me to enhance my skills in diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the incorporation of clinical or laboratory research will be an important part of my education. Research will both foster my intellectual growth and allow me to contribute to the field of surgery in a broader sense, hopefully providing evidence that will improve care for many patients.

I seek a program that offers residents exposure to a wide variety of cases and allows for research experience as well. To the field of surgery and to a residency program, I will bring my own signature enthusiasm and optimism. I will soon be the first doctor in a working-class family. From my parents and grandparents, I learned to work hard and take pride in a job well done. During my medical education, I have come to appreciate working as part of a team dedicated to patient care, with each member contributing their special expertise. I look forward to assuming the roles of teacher and clinician during residency training. However, the role most important to my future as a physician is that of lifelong learner in the constantly evolving field of general surgery. I am eagerly awaiting the start of this exciting endeavor.

[Fantastic!A clear PS that really gets to the core ideals of why surgery appeals to the writer. It is clear and very much to the point. The conclusion is also right on the money.]

Should I ever complete a similar mental exercise, the title of my autobiography will begin, “[name removed]: Surgeon”. My first year in medical school exposed me to a handful of specialties and dozens of subspecialties. Finding and choosing a specialty was daunting as many appeared to peak my interests. In an attempt to gain better perspective, I decided to spend as much time in the hospital as possible in the summer between my 1st and 2nd years. I contacted several departments at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NWM) in Chicago about shadowing their physicians. My schedule started me on the Trauma Surgery and Critical Care service and rotated between different departments every week. I never ended up leaving the Trauma Surgery service.


Though I spent time in other department’s clinics and floors, I would always gravitate back to the Trauma service. I was fortunate to be at NWM in June when there is a traditional break between 3rd and 4th year for medical students, leaving me the sole medical student in the entire hospital and the only student on a surgical service. This gave me an unparalleled opportunity to explore my interest in surgery. The residents tried to direct me to what they thought would be interesting cases as well as those that I would be of use. My transforming experience that summer, in particular the 200 or so hours in the hospital those two weeks being the only medical student, exposed me to three aspects of surgery that convinced me that I was destined to be a surgeon: the surgical problems, surgical patients and surgeon characteristics.


Surgical problems and patients are difficult, complex and unique. Surgery is an assault on the human body. A surgeon must contend not only with the patient’s natural decline in health, but also the infliction that we cause trying to help. They must deal with three distinct, but complicated problem areas; pre-operative: whether or not to operate, operative: the marriage of medical knowledge and the technical skill and post-operative: management of wounds, infections and a whole host of potential complications. These problems represent the pinnacle of intellectual challenges and are life altering for patients. I cannot imagine anything more rewarding than dedicating my life to solving them.


The uniqueness of surgical problems requires surgeons to not only be intelligent, diligent physicians, but also creative, good with their hands, work well under pressure, decisive and good team leaders. These are all characteristics that throughout my life I have aspired to. I am eager to realize these aspirations as I continue my medical education as a surgical resident.

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