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Advice on Writing USMLE and Fellowship Personal Statements: Gabriel Bosslet, Program Director at Indiana University

Posted on the 05 August 2019 by Pranab @Scepticemia
Advice on Writing USMLE and Fellowship Personal Statements: Gabriel Bosslet, Program Director at Indiana University

Gabriel Bosslet is the Program Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Indiana University. He recently came up with a long thread on Twitter on how to write an egaging personal statement. It is the fellowship application season and he is, expectedly, under a massive deluge of applications. He threshes out some of his personal insights on what he considers a good personal statement. Although this thread has been met with mixed reactions from the Twitterverse, it is worth reading. I am trying to embed the thread below, and am hoping it will stick!

https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1157629012505747456.js

In case the embed does not work, here is a badly curated PDF of the tweets, just for record and reference!

Hopefully one of the three modes I employed have worked and now you can see the thread above.

What is interesting is that there has been quite a mixed response to his stance, which perhaps reflects the divisive nature of this tool for evaluating potential applicants to various programs. One ex-Program Director comes up with a quite powerful counter-point:

Appreciate that you're trying to help, but "terrible" & those snarky gifs are pretty disrespectful. You're looking for competent & humane physicians not David Sedaris. Not trying to pick a fight, just think medical trainees are beaten up at all levels & deserve more respect.

- Aaron Fox, MD (@adfoxMD) August 3, 2019

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

One of the consistent and common complaints is that to be an effective and efficient doctor, one does not need the writing chops of an Oliver Sacks. Although it would definitely be beneficial for patient and doctor alike, if there were more physician authors like Sacks, or Gawande, such narrative skills are an added perk, and not one the lack of which should be penalized.

One of the strongest comments that Bosslet does make, and one that I tend to agree with, is that it is boring to read hundred upon hundreds of statements which are formulaic and run-of-the-mill. It is perhaps his in his reading fatigue that he complains about this, not considering the very real risks of a PS that goes off the rails and into uncharted territories just in an effort to stand out. While such a style could hit a home run with Bosslet, it is equally likely to irritate many other PDs. So, hitting the safe middle ground is an alternative that most students prefer. And whilst that helps them avoid transgressions, that bores the brains out of the PDs.


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