bashir

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I'm applying to psychiatry residencies this year. Through a combination of procrastination and a series of unfortunate events, I am not where I should be as far as ERAS goes, and I'm wondering what importance I should place on submitting my application on September 15th.

My understanding is that the personal statement is really pretty important in psych. Part of the dilemma is that I have a PS draft, but I don't love it and I kind of want to scrap it and start over. Even if I had a new one within a couple of days, that's not enough time to ask my advisor for input and still submit on Monday. (I do have friends who would help me out on short notice.) Can I submit, say, up to a week late without affecting my application negatively? My dean made it sound like application suicide not to submit ERAS on day one, but then he also told us to apply to at least 20-30 programs regardless of specialty, so I don't have a lot of faith in his advice.

In case it's relevant, I'm a decent applicant (middle of the class, no red flags) and I'd like to train at my home program, which is not especially competitive. You could argue I should just ask someone at my home program about this, but I'm afraid it would look bad.:unsure:
 

splik

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it is absolutely not application suicide not to apply on september 15 though really you should have a compelling reason not to. Attractive applicants will be no less desirable a few weeks later. I always tells IMGs to apply on september 15th regardless but USMS can apply a few weeks later.

The personal statement is really not that important. I almost never read them. This may be depend on the reviewer and the program, but in general the most important things are your Step 1 Scores, clerkship grades, and LORs. The goals of your personal statement should be to not make any spelling, grammatical errors, and not writing anything outrageous*. They are rarely brilliant enough to make a good impression so it;s the bad ones that stand out. There are only about 6 different types of personal statement for psychiatry. It is hard not to be cliche. Unless you are a particularly talented writer, being boring and safe is okay. the PS may be somewhat more relevant in the marginal applicant, only insofar as all aspects of the application may be scrutinized further. Personal statements are also important for those with red flags to discuss further, or for those who applicantions don't scream psych to explain how they came to this path. Other than that in general keep it short, keep it dull, and keep in simple.

*some people treat their personal statement as some sort of confessional. This is not a college essay. It is more like a cover let for a professional application. I do read them if they are really train-wreck deliciously awful.
 

notdeadyet

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The personal statement is really not that important. I almost never read them. This may be depend on the reviewer and the program
Highlighted for emphasis. I would no more gloss over the personal statement than the LORs. The personal statement is the only thing the applicant has control over, it's their only time to communicate directly to the programs. If an applicant blows off the PS, I have concern about their dedication to the process and the dedication they'll have to the residency. If they can't communicate articulately, this is a negative. If they can convey passion for the field and represent themselves and their intentions well, this is a positive.

It's hard to write an amazing personal statement. And like splik says, too many applicants overthink their statements and out clever themselves, which can be the kiss of death (no poems, no stand-up, etc.). But it's not hard to write a good one if you put in the effort. And a good one is worth the time investment. How much a PS will directly help or hurt you is variable (and if it's like 90% of the PS, it's not likely to have much direct impact), but the fact is that it sets the tone for your interview and can affect how interviewers approach you on interview day.

To answer your question, OP, delaying your app a week or two for more fine tuning of your PS is probably fine, but no further than that, especially if you're applying to competitive places. If you apply on October 1st, many-to-most October dates are gone and November interview dates are likely being offered. It pays to be prompt with the application.
 

MacDonaldTriad

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I agree that a week or two is not a big problem. I also think that a PS should not be this big of an issue. Maybe 10% stand out as particularly good and 20% are really bad. The rest are mind numbingly similar and just getting to the mode will be fine.

Most training directors will fill a good portion of their slots early and leave some incase some good applicants come in down the road. Inevitably, those that over invite early get more good applicants and the standard gets higher because the capacity to interview is limited. Those that under invite will get nervous and let more in, but inevitably no matter what the strategy, there is a period at the end where we are already booked and you would have to be a super star to get us to twist burned out interviewer’s arms and invite more. There isn’t a training director who gets back from Thanksgiving and says to their coordinator, “OK, let’s open up 40 slots”.

So the pattern is average bar, then slightly higher bar, then high bar, or average bar, possible slight dip, then high bar. Trying to time your application to catch a slight dip is folly because anyone whose application is already in will benefit the same.

In conclusion, getting in on Sept 15th is best, being a week or two later isn’t that big of a deal, and you can afford to procrastinate if your strong but there should be no real reason to wait.
 
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bashir

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Thanks to all who offered advice. I think I will do what I can to get my application in as close to September 15th as possible, as I'm expecting my first child in December and would like to do interviews in October and November.

I do have to say I'm befuddled by the conflicting personal statement advice. I can accept that it's more important to some reviewers/programs than others. Obviously you should do your best, so it can help you or at least not hurt you with those programs that do care about it. I have trouble reconciling advice to play it safe, aim for mediocre to avoid being one of the terrible ones, with advice I've previously received to try to stand out, that this is your one opportunity to give the reviewer a sense of who you are as a person, so you should reveal your true self as much as possible (in a positive light, of course).

*some people treat their personal statement as some sort of confessional. This is not a college essay. It is more like a cover let for a professional application. I do read them if they are really train-wreck deliciously awful.
Warnings like this are what really scares me, as I don't know how to talk about my passion for mental health with any authenticity without discussing fairly personal issues that some might consider "confessional." Sigh.
 

Salpingo

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Highlighted for emphasis. I would no more gloss over the personal statement than the LORs. The personal statement is the only thing the applicant has control over, it's their only time to communicate directly to the programs. If an applicant blows off the PS, I have concern about their dedication to the process and the dedication they'll have to the residency. If they can't communicate articulately, this is a negative. If they can convey passion for the field and represent themselves and their intentions well, this is a positive.

It's hard to write an amazing personal statement. And like splik says, too many applicants overthink their statements and out clever themselves, which can be the kiss of death (no poems, no stand-up, etc.). But it's not hard to write a good one if you put in the effort. And a good one is worth the time investment. How much a PS will directly help or hurt you is variable (and if it's like 90% of the PS, it's not likely to have much direct impact), but the fact is that it sets the tone for your interview and can affect how interviewers approach you on interview day.

To answer your question, OP, delaying your app a week or two for more fine tuning of your PS is probably fine, but no further than that, especially if you're applying to competitive places. If you apply on October 1st, many-to-most October dates are gone and November interview dates are likely being offered. It pays to be prompt with the application.
+1, not sure I have much to add but wanted to confirm many people (such as myself) look at the PS for all the reasons you listed. Its really the form over content, and its one way to show you're a well-rounded candidate who is literate and can convey ideas succinctly. Basically, would I want to read one of your notes, or listen to your case report. It may also help direct the interview towards a subject you're familiar and comfortable with (on the off chance your interviewer read it).

And I put pretty much no weight on LOR, which I find to be 10x more formulaic than the PS (although my opinion probably also has no weight).
 

Armadillos

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Warnings like this are what really scares me, as I don't know how to talk about my passion for mental health with any authenticity without discussing fairly personal issues that some might consider "confessional." Sigh.
I would say tread incredibly carefully. I doubt many PD's would come out and say it, but ultimately this is a job application and it would be much better to select an employee with unclear "passion" who has consistently demonstrated they are professional by being reliable, will show up to work every day focused on work, has the emotional stability to deal with huge amounts of stress, etc. than to select an extremely passionate employee who may not always be able to focus on work for whatever reason it may be.

Someone more senior could correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there would be essentially no instance where talking about a personal medical history involving substances, severe SI/attempt or mania/psychosis would be beneficial. While I don't think its right or fair, no employer really wants to take a gamble on that when they have 200 other applications on their desk.
 
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bashir

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Someone more senior could correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there would be essentially no instance where talking about a personal medical history involving substances, severe SI/attempt or mania/psychosis would be beneficial. While I don't think its right or fair, no employer really wants to take a gamble on that when they have 200 other applications on their desk.
I'm sure most people would agree with this statement. In my case the personal issues I was alluding to involve family members with severe mental illness and my role in caring for them. I can see how even this could be held against me in the category of "life circumstances that could potentially interfere with work from time to time" or simply considered TMI for, as splik calls it, "a cover letter for a professional application."
 

notdeadyet

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I have trouble reconciling advice to play it safe, aim for mediocre to avoid being one of the terrible ones, with advice I've previously received to try to stand out, that this is your one opportunity to give the reviewer a sense of who you are as a person, so you should reveal your true self as much as possible (in a positive light, of course).
It comes down to personality. I think a heartfelt narrative is not going to ever hurt you if you're authentic and it's well written. You picked up on the positive light issue and someone else pointed out that disclosures about issues that could possibly compromise your performance as a resident are probably poor strategy (history of drug use or serious mental illness as a theme would be controversial).

But I don't think many would recommend shooting for mediocrity. Many approach psychiatry for very corny and/or personal reasons, and as long as you can approach that with insight, few will fault you for it. As for the few that do? Fuggem. They are likely the ones at the adcom that folks roll their eyes at. If the whole program is universally turned off by someone who was inspired by caring for a family member? That's probably a program that is best avoided. There are many, many good psych programs. Do you want to be surrounded by leadership like that for 4 years.

Congrats on your pending birth. Get ready for a bunch of awkward talking around issues of children...



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bashir

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Thanks, notdeadyet. Worrying about it is probably particularly pointless in my case. Any program that faults me for it is likely to be the same program that wouldn't be too excited to have a resident with a new baby at home anyway, and the latter subject will be rather unavoidable!
 

slappy

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The personal statement is really not that important. I almost never read them. This may be depend on the reviewer and the program, but in general the most important things are your Step 1 Scores, clerkship grades, and LORs.
I hope you are not serious. There was not a single interview where at least 3/4th of the interviewers did not talk about my personal statement. All the personalized invitations I had received from program directors inviting me for the interview referenced them.

I probably would have received the same number of interview invites if I didn't put as much effort as I did into the personal statement, but I definitely would not have had such amazing interview days or matched where I ended up matching without it.