Have personal statements become impersonal? An evaluation of personal statements in anesthesiology residency applications
JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ANESTHESIA
2010; 22 (5): 346-351
To evaluate personal statements submitted to a major academic anesthesiology program to determine the prevalence of common features and overall subjective quality, and to survey anesthesiology program directors as to how they utilized these statements during the resident selection process.Structured analysis of de-identified personal statements and Internet-based survey of program directors.Large academic anesthesiology training program.670 applicant personal statements and academic anesthesiology program directors.Prevalence of 13 specific essay features and 8 quality ratings were calculated for the essays and correlated with other aspects of the residency application, as abstracted from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) files. A 6-question survey regarding use of personal statements was collected from program directors.70 of 131 program directors queried responded to our survey. Interest in physiology and pharmacology, enjoyment of a hands-on specialty, and desire to comfort anxious patients were each mentioned in more than half of the essays. Candidates invited for an interview had essays that received higher quality ratings than essays of those not invited (P = 0.02 to P < 0.0001). Higher quality ratings were also strongly associated with graduation from a U.S. or Canadian medical school, applicant file screening score, female gender, and younger age. Interrater reliability was good (kappa 0.75-0.99 for structural features, and 0.45-0.65 for quality features). More than 90% of program directors found proper use of English to be a somewhat or very important feature of the essay. Only 41% found the personal statement to be very or somewhat important in selecting candidates for interview invitations. However, over 90% stated that they used the statements during actual interviews with invited applicants.The data showed a high prevalence of common features found within personal statements and a general ambivalence amongst those program directors for whom the statements were intended.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jclinane.2009.10.007
View details for Web of Science ID 000280532800008
View details for PubMedID 20650381