PERSONAL STATEMENT WRITING & INTERVIEW PREPARATION

PERSONAL STATEMENT WRITING & INTERVIEW PREPARATION
FOR
FAMILY MEDICINE & INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENCIES
(Seminar with Free Personal Statement Editing for Attendees)

Augustine Wong BS BA MD ABFM LRCPEdin LRCSEdin LRCP&SGlas
Seminar
presented by
Former Family Practice Residency Director with Experience Interviewing Hundreds of Candidates

GEARED TOWARDS THOSE APPLYING TO
FAMILY MEDICINE OR PRIMARY CARE INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENCIES

FOR
ERAS 2020 and NRMP 2020

This Seminar will

  • NOT show you how to write another cliche-laden sentimental personal statement about how you like providing comprehensive continuity of care with compassion
  • NOT coach you on how to respond PASSIVELY to the commonest questions the interviewer may throw at you

Instead this Seminar will provide you with facts, data and resources on PRIMARY CARE SYSTEMS from both American and international perspectives, so you can

  • shine by discussing them in your refreshingly crisp and concise personal statement
  • impress the interviewers by proactively steering them to these topics and carrying on a cultured, sophisticated and spirit-lifting dialogue with them

WHY THIS APPROACH?

BECAUSE

♠   Organisation of Health Care Delivery Is at the Heart of Primary Care   ♠

♠   Very Few Applicants Know How to Discuss It   ♠

Residency application comprises two stages: (1) submitting the application and supporting documents, and (2) interviewing.

One of the documents submitted as part of your application is the Personal Statement. Among the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of personal statements a residency director has to read, how do you make yours stand out?

By the time you have been invited to an Interview, your performance in person during the interview probably counts more than your grades and your personal statement on paper. Do you feel that you have the grades for residency training but could not impress the interviewers in the past? While presenting yourself as a well-groomed, confident and cordial team member is an important part of the interview, all other candidates are already doing the same, and you are unlikely to stand out.

However, each speciality or field of medicine has its own unique approach to patient care, values and paradigms; so does primary care. If you are able to discuss them and their relevance to our complex healthcare system—in your Personal Statement and during the Interview—to demonstrate your insight and critical thinking, perhaps you will be that applicant invited for interview and you will also be the candidate the interviewer remembers when the programme finalises the short list for match ranking.

SAMPLE PERSONAL STATEMENTS

Your Personal Statement should reflect your personality. Do not just copy and paste buzzwords from the samples below into your Personal Statement without understanding the concepts behind them.  Otherwise, you will sound like defending somebody else's thesis. Attend the Seminar to learn the concepts related to primary healthcare systems and use your own words to write your killer Personal Statements.

Review the following Sample Personal Statements to see if you can come up with a more cultured and sophisticated narrative.

Sample Personal Statement 1 (application to family medicine)
Common Statement I like family medicine because it is the holistic specialty that treats soul and body. To be a successful family physician, one has to have compassion and empathy, as well as understanding of family systems and dynamics in the thorough assessment and management of diseases. Furthermore, no other fields of medicine emphasize prevention as much as family medicine.
Better Statement  ...

Family doctors are the products of the amalgamation of apothecaries, physicians and barber-surgeons. As medicine evolved from an art to a science more than a century ago, fuelled by the increasing prominence of pathophysiology in physician-led education which emphasises making the diagnosis, we should not forget the more patient-centred approach of symptomatic relief advocated by the humble apothecary, because in a community setting where a family doctor often has to deal with a patient's 'dis-EASE' more than 'disease' during the early undifferentiated stage, a primary care practitioner's confidence in handling uncertainty by appropriately 'using time as a diagnostic test or a therapeutic measure', coupled with his/her personal knowledge of the patient acquired through continuity of care, will be crucial in achieving cost-effective health services for society.

Doctors, wrote the late Dr John Fry (the almost-a-legend general practitioner, Consultant to World Health Organisation 1965-1983), still only 'cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always and prevent hopefully'. I have observed how tertiary care tries to over-promise society with high technology in the US. Primary care providers should have the wisdom to buck the trend by being more realistic about the limitations of medical advances.

I hope to join a residency programme whose faculty and trainees will grow together to become leaders in promoting a more realistic primary care system that will make the finite healthcare resources available to as many Americans as possible.

Sample Personal Statement 2 (application to primary care internal medicine)
Common Answer Internists specialize in the diagnosis and management of complex medical problems. As such, internal medicine is intellectually challenging. However, the important role preventive care plays in this field and the opportunity to establish long-term doctor-patient relationship also appeal to me.
Better Answer  ...

Internal medicine in the US has evolved from the mediaeval 'physic', where Latin-speaking physicians pursued the intellectually challenging diagnostic process for rare and complex diseases with a detective's zest for crime solving, to primary care internal medicine, where vernacular-speaking internists embrace preventative care and the patient-centred model.

In this new primary care paradigm, the same academic fervour for managing complex cases should also be applied to evidence-based research on newer concepts of preventive medicine such as lead-time bias and cost-effectiveness of secondary versus primary prevention.

Primary care internists are trained to make the judgement when to switch from the inductive method of diagnosis and therapeutics of hospital medicine to the more hypothetico-deductive approach more suited for community-based services.  Primary care internal medicine is the only field that adequately prepares its practitioners to apply the most appropriate paradigm based on the clinical presentation, the context, the psycho-social factors and the patient's health beliefs and cultural values.

Sample Personal Statement 3 (application to family medicine)
Common Answer My experience as a research assistant has deepened by quest for academic pursuit in my medical career, in addition to bedside clinical care. I am looking for a residency program where I can continue to participate in research.
Better Answer  ... Although most people associate academic medicine with research such as clinical trials of biomedical products conducted by subspecialists in tertiary care centres, I believe family doctors can make something academic out of the 'mundane' common disorders seen in the community setting. I had the privilege of completing my family medicine rotation with X Family Health Centre, where 'office-based research' was the norm. Applying the same scientific rigour as in larger studies but to smaller population, the attending doctors and students identified relationships between contraceptive method and subsequent incidence of sexually transmitted infections or effectiveness of dietary consultation on diabetic control among patients who attended the clinic. Because they are often not generalisable and only relevant to the local clinic population, they are generally not publishable (with a few exceptions). However, these activities are practical and realistic, totally in line with the ACGME core competency of 'Practice-based Learning and Improvement'. ...

If you feel that you are able to compose a statement better than the Better Statement in

  • only 1 out of the 3 statements, you should seriously consider attending the Seminar.
  • 2 out of the 3 statements, you may not need this Seminar.
  • 3 out of the 3 statements, you may want to consider applying to become a presenter for this Seminar!

MANY MORE EXAMPLES TO GO OVER DURING THE SEMINAR

SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

In the interview, being able to tackle some of the following questions will make a difference.

Take a Quiz on the first 4 of the 9 Sample Interview Questions.

Try to answer them and see how close your answers are to the 'Better Answers'.

Why are you choosing primary care instead of specialities? (How do you show genuine pride in being a primary care doctor?)
Common Answer I love the variety and the continuity of care in family medicine / internal medicine and the emphasis on preventive care. Being able to see the whole family—kids [not applicable if you are applying to internal medicine], adults, men, women, elderly—is important to me.
Better Answer When I was in medical school, many professors looked down upon primary care, saying it was not prestigious. Society worships subspecialists, and I was probably one of them. However, after my rotation at ..., I realised that it takes someone emotionally secure to pursue a field important to society and patients rather than to his or her ego. While family physicians do not have the expertise in diseases in any particular field, they are really specialists in their patients, developing personal knowledge of them over time that is more valuable than what high technology of specialism can offer. ... Generalists need to develop the confidence in dealing with the uncertainties of undifferentiated nature of clinical presentations in the community setting, something most specialists and subspecialists do not have. ... (more at the Seminar)
How would you solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the US?
Common Answer As the baby boomers get older, America is going to need more healthcare. Already most organisations such as the American Medical Association are predicting that America needs tens of thousands more doctors by 2025. I understand that about 15 new medical schools were established in the past 10 years and hopefully, this would be matched by an increase in the number of residency slots.
Better Answer Do we have a shortage of doctors in the US. Probably! Many European countries have a higher doctor-population ratio than the US; on the other hand, many countries with much lower doctor-population ratio than we do, such as Canada and Japan, are way ahead of us in terms of life expectancy. Demand for health services will always be an infinity, and supply will always be limited, even for a country as rich as the US, so the question is how we get more value out of the resources we put into healthcare. Do we really have a shortage of doctors or do we have a shortage of services? ... Are ‘specialoids’ really delivering true primary care? ...(More at the Seminar)
How much of ill health is caused by patients’ lifestyles?
Common Answer Of course, healthy lifestyles are very important to good health. I believe if we as family physicians can get patients to stop smoking, eat healthily and exercise more, we can reduce hospital admissions and increase life expectancy
Better Answer Lifestyle modification is definitely important, so much so that the US Preventive Services Task Force shifted the emphasis of preventive care from secondary prevention (such as annual physical examination) to primary prevention (counselling about healthier lifestyle). On the other hand, I believe it’s too simplistic to attribute most poor outcomes to lifestyles alone, because if you line up countries in descending order of percentage of population being smokers—Japan, Germany, Britain and the US—life expectancy is also in that descending order with Japan highest and the US lowest. Perhaps there have to be some other public health factors influencing health outcomes. ... (more at the Seminar)
Can you tell me a bit about Medical Home?
Common Answer The ‘Medical Home’ is a form of primary care that is comprehensive, patient-centred, co-ordinated, accessible and committed to quality and safety.
Better Answer If you look at the definition by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the ‘Medical Home’ is a form of primary care with five attributes: comprehensive care, patient-centredness, co-ordination, accessibility, and quality and safety. The rhetoric sounds very nice, but I must say I need to have a bit of healthy scepticism about it. The concept is similar to population-based health care or the ‘practice list’ model. However, with the inco-ordination and fragmentation of healthcare delivery in the US, can we really deliver all the things promised in ‘Medical Home’? Is the remuneration system conducive to such a model? ... the current specialist-generalist ratio? ... I firmly believe in the ‘Medical Home’ concept but to ensure that it works a lot more need to be done. ..(more at the Seminar)
Family Medicine vs Internal Medicine: why are you choosing one over the other?

(Attend the Seminar for the answer.)

What is the difference between community-based primary care and hospital-based medical services?

(Attend the Seminar for the answer.)

What do you think about the US healthcare system?

(Attend the Seminar for the answer.)

Can you tell me about the ACGME Core Competencies?

(Attend the Seminar for the answer.)

What are you looking for in a family practice / internal medicine residency?

(Attend the Seminar for the answer.)

If you are able to present an answer very similar to the Better Answer in

  • no more than 2 out of the first 4 questions, you should seriously consider attending the Seminar.
  • 3 out of the first 4 questions, you may not need this Seminar.
  • 4 out of the first 4 questions, you may want to consider applying to become a presenter for this Seminar!

MANY MORE EXAMPLES TO GO OVER DURING THE SEMINAR

A CRISP AND CONCISE PERSONAL STATEMENT

The DON'Ts of Writing Personal Statements

There are too many websites out there providing such advice to make any repetition here a redundancy.

However, DON'T write another banal personal statement with cliches such as 'continuity of care', 'comprehensive' and 'compassion'.

The DOs of Writing Personal Statements

There are too many websites out there providing such advice to make any repetition here a redundancy.

However, DO include in your personal statement a discussion on at least one of the topics below related to the role of primary care in US healthcare systems.

Why Discuss US Primary Care Systems in the Personal Statement

Secondary and tertiary care is concerned with expensive high technology that should only be used where clearly indicated. On the other hand, primary care is concerned with distributing those finite healthcare resources to as many people as possible, through continual improvement and re-design of delivery systems.

Healthcare system is most relevant to primary care, among all three levels of care. However, most candidates are prepared to talk about medical sciences, and doctor-patient relationship, in their personal statements and during interviews. Therefore, being able to initiate an insightful discussion of health systems in your Personal Statement will allow you to stand out among candidates.

INTERVIEW TACTICS

Before the Interview

The interview office is the audition studio; the applicant is the auditionee. Rehearse the piece well and you get the part.

Go through the potential questions and rehearse the answers with supporting data (so you do not look like defending someone else’s thesis).

If necessary, prepare a portfolio of visual aids, which, when used judiciously, will enhance your answers to create a more lasting impact on the interviewer.

Know thyself and know thy enemy; a hundred battles, a hundred victories.  (Sun Tzu)

Research the residency and the sponsoring and/or hosting institution you are applying to: its location (urban vs suburban vs rural), the socio-economics and demographics of the neighbourhood, its mission statement, the background of its faculty members and its residents (including their medical schooling, residency training and professional affiliations and memberships).

During the Interview

Do not reveal too much of your own political position when asked controversial questions, lest you end up crossing swords with an interviewer from an opposite ideological camp. Try to present facts for both sides of the issue to show a balanced approach. (In the Seminar, you will be exposed to a lot of facts you can use in your interview.)

Do not be on the defensive to allow the interviewer to pick apart your curriculum vitae; take the offensive to steer the interviewer to the topics on which you are well prepared to impress.

(After attending the Seminar, your understanding of primary care and the ability to analyse the problems afflicting the US healthcare industry will be much improved, perhaps better than some interviewers. However, remember to show off humbly, as you knock the interviewer’s socks off.) Pause from time to time, to seek the interviewer’s opinions or feedback on your data presented based on his/her ‘real world wisdom’. Apologise if you have been talking too long, citing difficulty containing your enthusiasm for primary care.

After the Interview

Send a letter to each interviewer thanking him/her for (or reminding him/her of) a meaningful meeting to discuss some of the healthcare issues facing the US.

Stressful people waiting for the job interview

GOALS & OBJECTIVES

Goal I: To develop an understanding of the original concepts of primary care
Objective 1 to describe briefly the historical evolution of specialism and generalism and the boundaries between the different fields of medicine
Objective 2 to precisely define the purpose of primary care in its relationship to secondary and tertiary care
Objective 3 to compare the different approaches in managing acute illness, preventive care and chronic disease
Objective 4 to compare community-based primary care and hospital-based medical services
Objective 5 to list examples of why patients consult their primary care doctor
Objective 6 to compare various societies in terms of health outcomes and their correlation with primary care
Objective 7 to summarise the values, paradigms and approaches unique to primary care
Objective 8 to correlate between remuneration methods and healthcare providers’ behaviours
Objective 9 to describe population-based health care and the prerequisites for implementing it
Goal II: To develop an understanding of the modern US version of primary care
Objective 1 to review basic principles of preventive care as promulgated by US Preventive Services Task Force (www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org)
Objective 2 to describe the distribution of US healthcare workforce and how it affects the definitions of and boundaries between primary, secondary and tertiary care
Objective 3 to analyse the reasons for the shortage of primary care doctors in the US
Objective 4 to describe the phenomenon of 'specialoid' in the US
Objective 5 to describe the fragmentation of healthcare in the US and its impact on costs and coutcomes
Objective 6 to discuss the rationale for hospitalism in the US
Objective 7 to describe the aetiology of ill health and the impact of technology on health outcomes in the US
Objective 8 to describe 'Medical Home' in the US (https://pcmh.ahrq.gov)
Objective 9 to describe the main features of recent healthcare reforms in the US
Goal III: To make your Personal Statements stand out and to impress during Interviews through sophisticated and cultured discussions of problems afflicting US healthcare system today, especially primary care
Objective 1 to be able to separate facts from rhetoric in primary care
Objective 2 to be able to impress with basic principles of preventive medicine
Objective 3 to selectively draw on data from Goal I and Goal II and 'diplomatically' present them during the interview
Objective 4 how to put a positive spin on your less than stellar curriculum vitae (if that is the case) using the core values of primary care
Goal IV: To demonstrate how to 'academicise' primary care using ACGME requirements
Objective 1 to list the six ACGME core competencies
Objective 2 to discuss Practice-based Learning and Improvement in the context of primary care-based research
Objective 3 to discuss Professionalism in the context of patient-centred care
Objective 4 to discuss Interpersonal and Communications Skills in the context of cultural competency
Objective 5 to discuss Systems-based Practice in the context of the US healthcare system
Objective 6 to compare ACGME requirements between family medicine and internal medicine

SEMINAR

A 15 min WHY THIS SEMINAR IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SERVICES
Using an internationalist approach to gain insight into the challenges facing US primary care, the Seminar aims to equip each attendee with the data and the confidence to write concise and crisp Personal Statements and to proactively initiate cultured, sophisticated and spirit-lifting dialogues during Interviews.
B 15 min LET’S BE HONEST
Why is primary care shunned, by both medical students and patients? How do you show genuine pride in your ‘unglamorous’ career choice?
C 90 min HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF SPECIALITIES & PRIMARY CARE; PRIMARY CARE CORE VALUES & PARADIGMS
true principles and rationale of primary care, often forgotten today, that can help you shine in interviews
10 min Break
D 60 min PRIMARY CARE IN THE US
the specialist, specialoid and family physician, internist ...
E 30 min ACGME REQUIREMENTS
6 core competencies & ACGME requirements for family medicine and internal medicine compared
10 min Break
F 20 min REVIEWING EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL STATEMENTS AND IMPROVING ON THEM
just when residency directors get tired of reading personal statements filled with clichés like 'empathy', 'holistic' and 'continuity of care'
G 40 min REHEARSING ANSWERS ON TOPICS BROUGHT UP BY INTERVIEWER AND, EVEN BETTER, TOPICS YOU STEER INTERVIEWER TO
wowing the interviewer with buzzwords without sounding like defending someone else’s thesis
H  40 min FURTHER QUESTIONS & ANSWERS (optional)
The Seminar is going to be very intense and having a full night's sleep the night before is crucial. (Not booking a hot date the evening after the Seminar is also strongly advised!)

Registration Fee
US$ 400.00 for more than 4½ hours of live interactions

VENUE

The seminar is to be held at 3P4Care (IL) LLC Avondale, 3502 N Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60618, USA.

Directions & Parking

3P4Care (IL) LLC Avondale is located at Elston Plaza, Chicago, at the junction of W Addison St, N Kedzie Ave and N Elston Ave. The closest subway stations are Addison and Belmont on CTA Blue Line. The closest bus routes are 52, 77, 82 and 152.

Free parking is available on streets and at Elston Plaza.

3P4Care Avondale is a new 4,500 sq ft primary care clinic, designed to meet the ACGME requirements as a family medicine practice to support a family practice residency training programme. Planning is underway to achieve that goal.

Presenter: Augustine Wong BS BA MD ABFM LRCPEdin LRCSEdin LRCP&SGlas

Dr Augustine Wong is a board-certified family practitioner in the US and general practitioner with full registration in the UK, with close to 30 years of academic experience,  training residents and both medical and allied health students.

Apart from being director of residency-based family practice clinics, Dr Wong started a family medicine residency programme from scratch in the US and directed it for more than 11 years. He had personally interviewed hundreds of candidates and had trained many residents some of whom went on to become programme directors and department chairs.

Dr Wong’s special interests include history of medicine, cross-cultural comparisons of healthcare systems, doctor-patient relationship, faculty development and practice management.

PERSONAL STATEMENT EDITING

The Personal Statement Editing service of The Asklepaedia (USA) LLC aims to assist FAMILY MEDICINE and INTERNAL MEDICINE residency applicants with making their Personal Statements stand out—by highlighting primary care concepts, values, and paradigms and analyzing healthcare systems, in addition to showcasing one’s academic achievements.

If you are interested in this approach, you are strongly encouraged to attend the Seminar to gain a better understanding of the facts and data underlying the concepts and paradigms unique to primary care (see Goals and Objectives of the Seminar) before selecting a few of these topics to include in your Personal Statement. Alternatively, once you purchase the service, we can discuss which topics you would like to include in your Personal Statement.

The Asklepaedia (USA) LLC does not condone or encourage plagiarism; therefore, you will be responsible for composing your Personal Statement first in order to use the editing service. Please also send your curriculum vitae and your USMLE scores to allow Dr. Wong a better overview of your strengths and weaknesses.

Although Dr. Wong personally prefers British English, he will edit your Personal Statement using American English.

Our expertise is in primary care residencies. Therefore, we do not offer any editing services for residency applications to specialties other than family medicine and internal medicine.

Turnaround time is approximately one week.

Price US$ 400.00 for up to 900 words