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Is Fellowship Harder Than Residency Personal Statement

Perhaps you´ve been asked why you´d like to study emergency medicine before. Was it because of an interest in doing humanitarian work abroad?

Emergency medicine is one of the best specialties for humanitarian work and general career satisfaction and impact. It´s one of the few choices that encompasses all disciplines of medicine, and there are numerous ways to getting started on your path to a humanitarian career. Let´s look at a few here.

Choose a Program That Suits Your Interests

Augusta University´s International Humanitarian Medicine Program

At the Center of Operational Medicine at Augusta University, they run The International Humanitarian Medicine program, which allows Emergency Medicine residents the opportunity to travel to developing countries and provide medical care to people who just don´t have good access to modern medicine. You´ll be gone for 1-3 weeks for each trip, and might go somewhere like the Philippines, Thailand, Haiti or Dominican Republic.

Columbia University´s International Emergency Medicine Fellowships Partnership

The Columbia University Medical Center and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital International Emergency Medicine Fellowship run a two-year program that combines in-depth clinical and public health work in international setting with a Master of Public Health at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health Program in Forced Migration and Health.

The fellowship sends emergency physicians to post-conflict and post-disaster sites, and active humanitarian emergency zones. During the program, you´ll focus on public health, formative research and health systems development through the university, NGOs, ministries of health, and UN agencies. You´ll have the opportunity to benefit from immersive clinical, academic, leadership, administrative and organizational activities and responsibilities.

The fellowship has also agreed to partner with Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Fellows can now deliver emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and disasters at MSF´s facilities; collaborate on communicable disease outbreak preparedness, assessment, prevention and epidemic response and participate in the monitoring and evaluation of MSF programming impact through data-driven evaluation. You´ll conduct approximately 6-9 months of fieldwork during the two-year program at Columbia University. Here´s more about how to apply.

Brown University´s Global Emergency Medicine Fellowship

This fellowship is based in Providence, Rhode Island. It´s sponsored by the University Emergency Medicine Foundation (UEMF) and affiliated with the Brown University Alpert Medical School and School of Public Health. This two-year academic fellowship will provide you with a wealth of research mentoring opportunities, robust interdepartmental collaboration and rich clinical and teach experiences at home and abroad. As part of this fellowship, you can either earn a Maters of Public Health (MPH) or a Master´s of Science in Clinical and Translational Research (MSc) from Brown University or a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from an outside institution, depending on your long-term interests in this field.

You´ll also participate in a dedicated Humanitarian Emergency/Disaster Certification course, like the ICRC Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP) course. Througout the Brown Resident International/Global Health Training program, you´ll also have the opportunity to participate in the training of emergency medicine, internal medicine and pediatric residents in global health topics. You´ll acquire and apply skills in epidemiology, research methodology and program planning through a longitudinal academic project. You´ll receive a starting salary of around $90,000 per year; full benefits, including health, dental, disability and malpractice insurance; $5,000 annually for CME and travel; eligibility to apply for departmental seed grants for research projects and support for evacuation insurance, international travel and accommodation at field sites. Here´s the information you´ll need to apply.

Choose the Right Hospital

Brigham and Women´s Hospital´s Division of International Emergency Medicine and Humanitarian Programs (DIEMHP) comprises faculty, fellows and staff with an interest in international health, education and research. The division is focused on advancing field programs, building capacity for international health research, and developing educational programs relating to international health, development and humanitarian assistance. They promote collaboration in international health programs within the Harvard-affiliated Hospitals, Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School; run progressive international health education programs to students, residents, fellows and faculty and encourage an aggressive program of research into the root causes of international health and health system failure.

Go Solo

Ready to head off on your own during a vacation period, or later, once you´ve finished your residency. There are plenty of opportunities and organizations that are well-run and ready for you to jump on board. Here are some key examples:

Student Portal > Writing a Personal Statement

Writing a Personal statement

From Careers in Medicine 

Careers in Medicine© is a program of the Association of American Medical Colleges https://www.aamc.org/cim/profile

Writing a Winning Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an important tool for selling yourself in the residency application process. Since it’s the only part of the application you have complete control over, it’s your voice and your chance to give insight into who you are beyond test scores, clerkship grades, and medical school activities. Your personal statement should show you know something about, have a commitment to, and are a good match with the specialty you’ve chosen. It’s how interviewers meet you before the interview process. And while a good personal statement won’t earn you the training spot, a bad one can torpedo your candidacy.

How do you write a high-quality personal statement? Start with the three main topic areas generally addressed in a personal statement:

  • Why did you choose your specialty?
  • What are looking for in a residency program?
  • What are your future goals in the specialty and/or in medicine?

As you discuss them, describe interests or influential experiences that help the reader understand your enthusiasm. Saying you love kids, while hopefully true, should be one of several — not your only — reason for pursuing pediatrics. Elaborate on skills, qualities, and strengths that make you well-suited to the field and a potential asset to their program. Write about a clinical activity, research project, or volunteer commitment that helped you develop skills valued in your specialty, or clarify your career goals. Your personal statement is a chance to highlight what makes you unique and should provide concrete examples that pertain to your life, goals, and experiences.

While there’s no need to tailor your personal statement to each specific program, you should adapt it to reflect your residency choice. For example, if you’re applying to advanced programs, modify your personal statement for preliminary or transitional programs explaining what you hope to gain through preliminary year training.  If you’re looking for specific experiences such as a research track, ensure the programs receiving your personal statement offer those experiences.  You can direct different statements to different programs through the Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®), so you might create a version of your statement that mentions your research interests and another version without a research emphasis.

Your statement can also be used to explain gaps in education, academic difficulties, or unusual circumstances — often red flags for program directors.  And the personal statement can help provide context and communicate lessons learned, especially if the situation can be explained positively. Consult with your student affairs office for specific guidance on your situation and whether to address it.

Your statement should reflect your personality, but should not be an example of your creative writing. Gimmicky statements frequently fall flat, and you’ll be remembered for the wrong reasons. Interviewers seek coherent ideas conveyed clearly that explain who you are. Use a theme or otherwise organize your content so the concepts flow. Check with your student affairs office for sample personal statements you can review for ideas.

Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts


  • start early
  • ask a physician in your specialty to review it
  • limit to one page
  • vary your sentence structure
  • proofread your work carefully, especially for grammar and spelling errors


  • underestimate the importance of your personal statement
  • begin every sentence with “I”
  • rehash the content of your CV or why you want to be a doctor
  • plagiarize
  • focus too much on your fellowship interest

Personal statements can be difficult to write, and many writers of your letters of recommendation will want a copy, so start early.  Strong statements require several drafts and reviews by multiple people.  Ask advisors, student affairs staff, and good writers to proofread your statement for content, clarity, flow, grammar, and spelling. The first draft may be tough, but refine the content, get feedback, and polish your prose to produce a winning personal statement.

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