Application Materials

The Curriculum Vitae

It is crucial that your CV be an accurate and honest reflection of your accomplishments. Omit a particular category if you have nothing pertinent to include. Do not create things to fill in the spaces.

The Career Counseling Office has resource material available to help you: AMSA’s “Student Guide to the Appraisal and Selection of House Staff Training Programs,” and Iserson’s, “Getting Into A Residency.”

There are also good examples of a CV on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Careers in Medicine CIM website.


The Personal Statement (Autobiographical Sketch)

Your residency application will require a personal statement of some form. This document is a supplement to your CV and permits amplification of your qualifications in a narrative form. The goal of a personal statement is to provide the reader with information about how and why you are qualified for the position you are seeking. A personal statement for residency application should clarify for the reader the basis for your interest in that specialty and in that particular program.

The personal statement should be coherent and, while you may choose to include significant personal experiences, they must bear some relationship to the purpose of your application to a particular program or choice of that particular specialty. An important component of the personal statement may be to detail your professional goals. A clear expose about your career plans and goals is appropriate.

It is imperative that the writing style and quality in your personal statement be superior. Writing a personal statement is not like writing a history and physical examination on the clinical services.

Guidelines

  • Use complete sentences.
  • Avoid all abbreviations and jargon.
  • Check spelling carefully. Do not rely solely upon spell check. Have someone proofread to check for typographical and grammatical errors, as both reflect poorly upon you as an applicant.
  • A thesaurus can be useful to add variety to the words you use in your personal statement, but don’t overdo it.
  • Typographic errors and use of poor grammar reflect badly upon you as an applicant!
  • Ask your faculty mentor in your field at WUSM or Dr. Diemer in Career Counseling to review your personal statement.
  • Take your time in preparing your personal statement. The preparation of this document should be an iterative process in which refinements are made over a number of weeks.

The Career Counseling Office maintains a file of sample personal statements from former WU students. The office also has reference books on hand which help in the writing of the personal statement.


Letters of Reference

Medical students should request a letter from an individual with whom they have had direct professional experience. Letters of reference are an important reflection of your academic performance and personal qualities. Most residency programs request three letters of reference, and some programs have specific requirements which must be met (for example: a letter from a department chairman, and/or a letter from a faculty member not in the specialty to which you are applying); therefore, read the directions carefully for particular programs. Ensure that your letters of reference comply with their demands. As a general rule, do not send more letters than are requested unless you feel that the additional letter adds something which is not contained in the others.

It is imperative that you leave plenty of time to arrange letters of reference. The faculty are busy and will not be able to drop everything to prepare your letter. You need to provide at least one month, preferably two months, notice so that a faculty member can attend to this important matter in their own time. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE IN ARRANGING YOUR LETTERS OF REFERENCE.

Guidelines

  • Usually medical students should choose to request a letter from an individual with whom they have had direct professional experience. Frequently this will be the course master of a clinical clerkship or the attending physician from a particular rotation in which the student performed well.
  • Do not request “character references” from your friends, minister or family physician. You must include at least one letter from a faculty member from your chosen field. Again, pay careful attention to the requirements listed in individual program documentation.
  • Name recognition is important, and if you have had direct contact with an individual who is well known within their field, then soliciting a letter from that individual is a wise move.
  • You should make it as easy as possible for faculty to prepare a letter. Always provide a curriculum vitae and, preferably, a personal statement as well. If the faculty member is in high demand to produce letters of reference and you have not had extensive or repeated contact with the individual, you may attach a photograph to your curriculum vitae to jog their memory. It is courteous to ask the faculty member’s secretary about the particular requirements for gaining a letter of recommendation from that individual. Some faculty members demand interviews before preparing a letter and may want you to provide a list of programs to which you are applying.  It is worthwhile to try to get even a brief personal appointment with the faculty member to discuss your application, your curriculum vitae and personal statement.

If you are unsure about your relationship with the particular faculty member of that field, but you have to have a letter from that person, a useful question would be “Do you feel you know me well enough to be able to write a strong letter of recommendation for my application?”

From the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) web site, you will download the LOR form for each letter writer. Beginning with the 2015/2016 application season, faculty will upload your LOR directly to the ERAS LOR Portal.

If you are applying through the SF Match for Ophthalmology, you should collect your letters directly from faculty in a sealed envelope for inclusion in your application packet.


The Medical Student Performance Evaluation
(formerly the Dean’s Letter)

Every medical school submits a summary/evaluation letter of every student’s performance to the residency programs to which each student has applied. This is specifically NOT a letter of recommendation, but rather an evaluation of each student’s performance in the context of this school.

In late June-July of fourth year, every medical student meets with Dr. Kathy Diemer, the assistant dean for career counseling, to discuss the writing of his or her MSPE.

In this letter of evaluation we describe you as a person, summarize your medical school career in the context of WUSM, and may include your awards, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and plans for the future as pertinent to strengthen your application but not to duplicate information already presented. A general description of the student population and the curriculum at WUSM is included so that program directors can make a more valid comparison of you with students from other institutions.

Second year grades and clinical clerkship grades (with brief narratives gleaned from faculty evaluations) are included in each student’s letter. Senior electives may be included in each letter. General academic class ranking (upper third, middle third, or lower third) based on your performance on the academic requirements of WUSM is included, and election to AOA when applicable.

Specific details regarding academic encumbrances as appropriate are also included.

Students are allowed access to their letters in order to review the draft before it is released to programs on October 1.  At this time they may also contact Dr. Diemer with any questions or concerns about its contents.


Dean’s Letter Samples

Dean’s Letter of Evaluation for Mary Smith

This performance evaluation is provided at the request of Mary Smith, who is applying to your program for postgraduate medical training.

Premedical Education and Experience

Mary grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She did her undergraduate work at XYZ University where she received a B.S. degree in biology. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude in May 2007.

Mary entered Washington University School of Medicine in August 2007 as a Distinguished Alumni Scholar. This full tuition scholarship is awarded to up to five entering first-year students based on superior intellectual achievement. She has completed the required curriculum with only the usual summer break between the first and second preclinical years and is scheduled to graduate on May 20, 2011.

Preclinical Record

Mary passed all first-year courses without difficulty. In her second year, her performance on the 17 graded courses included 13 honors and 3 high passes. She passed the remainder of her courses without difficulty. She took and passed the USMLE Step I examination in June 2009 achieving a score of 245.

Clinical Clerkships (Chronologically)

Women and Children’s Health/Pediatrics: Honors (H=35%; HP=59%; P=5%)

“Mary is a great team player and was well liked by the resident and nursing team. Her presentations and write-ups are precise and focused. She is very quick to clarify a problem and marshall her already considerable talents to meet the needs. She communicates a wonderful potential given her energy, intelligence and natural charm. Mary is an energetic, mature, and thoughtful individual who performed outstandingly on the pediatric service. Mary would make an excellent pediatrician.” Mary scored at the 99th percentile on the NBME section exam.

Women and Children’s Health/OB-GYN: High Pass (H=52%; HP=44%; P=3%)

“Mary was hard working and professional. She was extremely pleasant to work with and demonstrated initiative and enthusiasm throughout the rotation. She gave excellent presentations on rounds. She was motivated to work and study on her own. She was able to elicit important information with her patient history and gather information and formulate an accurate assessment and appropriate plan. Her interpersonal relationships were excellent. Her fund of knowledge is outstanding.”

Internal Medicine: Honors (H=56%; HP=43%)

“Mary was a pleasure to have on the service. She is pleasant, works hard, and interacts well with and contributes to the team. Her knowledge base is outstanding, and she reads about and researches new data regarding her patients on a daily basis. Her oral and written presentations are superior. Her rapport with the patients and staff is superb. She was an intricate part of the team. Her written and oral presentations were thorough and her histories and physical exams were very well organized. She will likely continue to excel in whatever field she chooses.” Mary scored at the 99th percentile on the NBME section exam.

(Selective) Family Medicine Clerkship: Honors

“Mary was a wonderful member of our physician trainee team. She is hardworking, bright, and very intelligent. She was excellent with multidisciplinary teams and worked well with staff, patients, and families. She exhibited thorough history and physical exam skills and a professional demeanor that was ‘beyond her years’. We anticipate that she will be an excellent house officer and future clinician in her future career.”

Neurology: High Pass (H=39%; HP=53%; P=8%)

“Mary was great to work with. She is a highly motivated learner. She did a good job formulating differential diagnoses on complicated patients. She is empathetic and caring. She had an excellent understanding of the disease and the principles of patient care. She will excel as a physician.” Mary scored at the 99th percentile on the NBME section exam.

Psychiatry: Honors (H=29%; HP=67%; P=3%)

“Mary has wonderful clinical skills and bedside manner. She is thorough and a pleasure to work with. She is bright with a great attitude and a strong work ethic. Her fund of knowledge was outstanding.” Mary scored at the 99th percentile on the NBME section exam.

Integrated Surgical Discipline: Honors (H=47%; HP=47%; P=6%)

Colorectal: “Mary did an excellent job during her rotation. She was very enthusiastic, interested and always well prepared for rounds and in the operating room. She was one of the best students to rotate on the service over the past few years.” Tutorial: “Mary was a terrific student. She was well prepared and an active participant in group discussions. Her presentations were outstanding.”

General Surgery: “Mary is a superior student. Her fund of knowledge was outstanding. She was always interested in seeing new surgical problems and she demonstrated strong technical skills. She was a good team player and excited to learn.”

Critical Care Anesthesia: “Mary is a pleasant, hardworking, and intelligent student, who did an excellent job on the anesthesiology service. Her technical skills were above average. She made excellent contributions to clinical discussions and presented well.” Mary scored at the 97th percentile on the NBME section exam.

Fourth-Year Electives

Honors Medicine: Honors

“Mary did an outstanding job on this rotation. She often presented patients on the day of admission, within hours of their arrival on the floor. Her oral and written presentations were organized and accurate. Her written histories and physicals were neat, timely and thoughtful.”

Hematology and Oncology IV: Honors

“Mary’s overall performance was outstanding. She is an excellent medical student and a top candidate for residency training programs.”

Research and Extracurricular Activities

In addition to fulfilling her academic requirements, Mary took advantage of the summer break between her first and second years of medical school to work in the Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. Mary’s work was supported by an NIH summer research grant and involved starting a line of neural stem cells to be used for further research.

During medical school, Mary has been an active participant in extracurricular activities. She has served as a teacher in the Students Teaching AIDS to Students (STATS) program, which travels to local middle schools to educate students about HIV and AIDS. She has also participated as a teacher in the Drug Education program, in which elementary school students are taught of the dangers of drugs.

Summary

Mary is an outstanding medical student, truly one of our academic stars! She has excelled in her preclinical courses and on her clinical rotations. Mary’s overall performance in the three years of required courses at Washington University School of Medicine clearly places her in the top third of the class, and she is recommended to you as an outstanding candidate for postgraduate residency training.

I am pleased to announce that Mary has been elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, Honor Medical Society.

Sincerely,

Kathryn M. Diemer, M.D.
Assistant Dean for Career Counseling
October 1

Dean’s Letter of Evaluation for Charles Robinson

This performance evaluation is provided at the request of Charles Robinson, who is applying to your program for postgraduate medical training.

Premedical Education and Experience

Charles grew up in Washington, Maryland. He did his undergraduate work at Eastern University where he received a BS degree in engineering in May 2006. Following graduation, Charles spent a year working with an engineering firm before entering medical school.

Charles then entered Washington University School of Medicine in August 2007. He has completed the required curriculum with only the usual summer break between the first and second preclinical years and is scheduled to graduate on May 20, 2011.

Preclinical Record

Charles passed all first-year courses without difficulty. His performance on the graded courses in the second-year curriculum was exceptional. He earned the highest grade of honors on 10 of the 17 graded courses and a high pass on the remaining 7 grades courses. Charles took and passed the USMLE Step I examination in June 2009 achieving a score of 230.

Clinical Clerkships (Chronologically)

Integrated Surgical Disciplines: Honors (H=47%; HP=47%; P=6%)

Tutorial: “Charles was a good communicator, doing a nice job on prepared presentations and in contributing to group discussions. He was a mature and very effective senior student.”

General Surgery

“Charles turned in a very solid performance on his first clinical rotation. He is bright and very pleasant to work with. He was hardworking and carried himself in a courteous and professional manner. He was able to evaluate patients in clinic in a timely fashion and organize his histories and physicals well. He was enthusiastic and helpful in the operating room.”

Ophthalmology

“Charles was an excellent student. He is bright, diligent, reliable and has a pleasant demeanor.”

Orthopaedic Surgery

“Charles was an excellent student. He will make a fine house officer.”

Internal Medicine: High Pass (H=56%; HP=43%)

“Charles is extremely hard working and always contributes to the team. His fund of knowledge is excellent and he uses each patient encounter as a blueprint for further reading and investigation. He is a conscientious and dedicated student. He showed dedication to every patient he was assigned to. He was a great team player. He was also very active about presenting articles and read extensively. His fund of knowledge is outstanding and he applies this at the bedside extremely well. He will enjoy much success in the future.”

(Selective Clerkship) Ambulatory Care/Emergency Medicine: High Pass

“Charles was a good team player. He was adaptable to any situation. He was very motivated. He has a great personality and works well with patients. His fund of knowledge was excellent.”

Neurology: Honors (H=39%; HP=53%; P=8%)

“Charles was a pleasure to have in the neurology clinic. His presentations were well thought out. His fund of knowledge was well above average. He was enthusiastic and helpful on the service. He was appreciated by the patients. He will succeed in any clinical field he chooses.” Charles scored at the 92nd percentile on the NBME section exam.

Psychiatry: High Pass (H=29%; HP=67%; P=3%)

“Charles was very hard working and helpful. He had and excellent bedside manner. His fund of knowledge was outstanding. He played an integral role in the care of the patients. He is pleasant to work with and well liked by the staff and patients. His oral presentations were complete and well organized. He used the literature well.” Charles scored at the 96th percentile on the NBME section exam.

Women & Children’s Health/Pediatrics: Honors (H=35%; HP=59%; P=5%)

“Charles’s performance this month was superb. He was confident and had strong clinical skills. He seems to have an excellent rapport with his patients and clearly makes the extra effort to understand all aspects of their care. He is very bright, committed to team dynamics and thoughtful about his patients. He developed excellent treatment plans on all of his patients. He followed up on all assigned tasks. He was an outstanding medical student.”

Women & Children’s Health/OB-GYN: Honors (H=52%; HP=44%; P=3%)

“Charles performed well on a very busy service. He developed excellent rapport with patients. His physical examinations were always complete and his written presentations were outstanding in every respect – they were always clear and demonstrated superior logic and organization.”

Fourth-Year Electives

Cardiothoracic Critical Care: Honors

“Charles is a very enthusiastic medical student with a very pleasant personality. He was always well prepared and his presentations were very detailed. He worked incredibly hard. He functioned as a full member of the team. He was totally involved in the care of his patients at the level of most second year residents. He is a bright and willing learner. He is to be commended on a job well done.”

Honors Medicine: Honors

“Charles demonstrated outstanding knowledge and judgement from day one of the rotation. His presentations were excellent and reliable. He easily functioned at the level of an intern and will be a fantastic resident with a very bright future. It was a pleasure working with him.”

Research and Extracurricular Activities

Charles took advantage of the summer break between his first and second years of medical school to conduct clinical research in the Department of Surgery.

During his preclinical years, Charles was very involved with community outreach programs. He volunteered with the STATS program (Students Teaching AIDS to Students), and was a coordinator during his second year. In addition, Charles has volunteered at Saturday Neighborhood Health Clinic, a free clinic run my medical students. During his first preclinical year, he served as course liaison, coordinating correspondence between the course master and the class and writing a final assessment of the course based on class survey results. Charles was also a member of the Surgery Intererst Group during his preclinical years.

Charles enjoys music and sports.

Summary

Charles is a mature and bright young man. He has proven himself to be a hard working and very capable medical student with the skills to be an excellent clinician. He is an extremely personable young man who is dedicated to patient care and committed to a career in general surgery. Charles’s overall performance in the three years of required courses at Washington University School of Medicine places him in the middle third of the class, and he is recommended to you as an excellent candidate for postgraduate residency training.

Sincerely,

Kathryn M. Diemer, M.D.
Assistant Dean for Career Counseling
October 1

Dean’s Letter of Evaluation for William Powell

This performance evaluation is provided at the request of William Powell, who is applying to your program for postgraduate medical training.

Premedical Education and Experience

Bill grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. He did his undergraduate work at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He graduated magna cum laude in May 1999 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in chemistry and biology.

Bill entered Washington University School of Medicine in June 1999 as a candidate in the Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.). A separate letter is provided by Wayne Yokoyama, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the MSTP Program, regarding Bill’s performance in the Ph.D. program. He is scheduled to graduate with a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree on May 18, 2007.

Preclinical Record

Bill passed all first year courses without difficulty. Following his first preclinical year, Bill entered the laboratory to begin basic research for his Ph.D. thesis. He then returned to the preclinical curriculum, and in his second year his performance on graded courses included five honors and five high passes. He passed the remainder of his courses without difficulty. He took and passed the USMLE Step I examination in June 2005.

Clinical Clerkships (Chronologically)

Amb. Care/Psychiatry Consult/Liaison: High Pass

“Bill showed particular strength in supplementing his knowledge base with outside sources as needed. I expect Bill to make valuable contributions in any field he chooses. Bill’s student review paper was one of the best I’ve seen all year – consider publishing it.

Women & Children’s Health/Pediatrics: Honors

“In his first week on this rotation, Bill performed very well, took on complicated patients and showed tremendous initiative. He worked very well with the team and demonstrated a good fund of knowledge. In his subsequent weeks on pediatrics, he continued to perform well above the level expected for his stage in his career. Mr. Powell is one of our outstanding M.D./Ph.D. students. He is smart, motivated and well rounded. He brings unique talents and insight to the table. In short, he is GREAT!”

Women & Children’s Health/OB-GYN: Honors

“Bill is a very conscientious student. He is always eager to help out and is an all around team player. He is a very strong student who is mature, intelligent and excellent to have on the service. He interacted extremely well with the staff, attendings and patients. Bill did an excellent job on the gynecology service. He clearly has a lot of empathy for cancer patients. He is cheerful, intelligent, calm and diligent. He is a team player. He is a pleasure to work with and he will be an excellent physician.”

Bill’s schedule of remaining clinical clerkship rotations is as follows: Internal Medicine, Integrated Surgical Disciplines, Neurology, and Psychiatry.

Research and Extracurricular Activities

After his first preclinical year of course work, Bill entered the laboratory of Lee Ratner, M.D., Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology. He has had an immensely productive research experience and is already first author or co-author on numerous publications and abstracts presented at national and international meetings. He received the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Medical Scientist Fellowship for his outstanding research in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

In addition to fulfilling his academic requirements, Bill has been involved in The Young Scientist Program, a community outreach program organized by our medical students, which is designed to attract high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds into scientific careers through activities emphasizing hands-on research and contact between young people and active scientists. He also served as a teaching assistant for the cellular biology course in the preclinical medical school curriculum.

Summary

Since Bill is in our Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.), he has not completed the clinical clerkships at the time of this writing, and I cannot rank him in comparison to the other senior students. However, based on his academic performance to date, he is an excellent candidate for postgraduate residency training.

Sincerely,

Kathryn M. Diemer, MD
Assistant Dean for Medical Education
October 1, —–