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VIRMP®  Personal Statement: Dos and Don'ts

Posted by Cathy Barnette on September 8, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Cathy Barnette
Cathy Barnette is a practicing small animal veterinarian, freelance writer, and contributor to XPrep Learning Solutions. She is passionate about both veterinary medicine and education, working to provide helpful information to veterinary teams and the general public. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family and leading a Girl Scout troop.

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If you’re planning to pursue an internship or residency after vet school, you have probably already started working on your VIRMP® Application Packet. This packet, which is sent to each program to which you apply, contains your application form, transcripts, CV, letters of reference, and your personal statement.(1) 

The personal statement acts as a cover letter for your application packet. Its goal is to provide a better picture of you as an applicant.

Your personal statement should answer three major questions:

  • What do you expect from an internship/residency program?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • What can you contribute to the institution?
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Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts

  1. Do discuss what you will bring to the program. This is your opportunity to show what makes you unique! Without restating what’s covered in your CV, talk about significant professional or life experiences that have prepared you for this position. 
  2. Don’t get too creative or casual. Although your personal statement should reveal something about you as a person, this is not the time for a haiku. Your personal statement should be written in a formal style, like a business letter. Although contractions, ellipses, and casual phrasing may be appropriate for a blog post, they should be avoided in your personal statement. 
  3. Do keep it concise. Although your personal statement can be up to two pages in length, try to be concise and limit it to one page. Stick to three paragraphs: one to describe your goals, one to describe your skills/experience, and one to describe how you can help the practice or institution.(2)
  4. Don’t describe yourself in vague platitudes. Be specific and give examples. Don’t tell the committee that you are hard-working; show them that characteristic by discussing a particular achievement, discussing your previous experience in a grueling program, or relaying an anecdote of a time that you overcame an obstacle. 
  5. Do proofread your personal statement carefully. After you have corrected all the errors that you can find, email it to several friends or family members for editing. Others are more likely to catch your mistakes. 
  6. Don’t procrastinate. I’ve spent the last four years as a freelance writer, so I understand what it’s like to have writer’s block! For me, the best way to start an intimidating project is to sit down at my laptop and start typing something (anything!) related to the topic. Whether it’s a rough outline or a few poorly-constructed opening sentences, getting something on the page always helps. You can always go back and change what you’ve written, but the hardest part is getting started! 

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References

  1. Application Packets. Veterinary Internship and Matching Residency Program. 
  2. Suggestions for Application to Internships and Residencies. Kansas State University. 

Topics: VIRMP

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