Much of the information about your residency qualifications comes from documents, including board scores, dean’s letter, and application. Into this mix you get to add your personality with a well-crafted personal statement and a much practiced mock interview. Nearly fifteen years as Director of Student Education for Family Medicine at Loma Linda University School of Medicine has given me some perspectives on what it takes to get you into the residency of your choice.

First, I want to help you create a stellar personal statement. If your writing doesn’t bring goose bumps to the reader and excitement to you, the writer, you will not have met your goal. Your words should leave the residency director intrigued enough to invite you to their program.

The first section will help you discover what an interesting person you are and why you are a superb candidate for the residency you want. It will push you to do more than explain why your specialty is important or why you should come to their program. This resource will help you put soul and emotional color into what I call the mundane medical manikin draped in a white coat. Writing, like medicine, is not easy, and that is why not everyone is a physician or a writer. I hope to lessen the tyranny of writing your personal statement.

The second section is designed to help some of you who think your writing skills are not up to the task and need examples to show that with a little effort and toil, you can write an effective personal statement. Over the years after reading more than a hundred personal statements, I saved the most instructive examples (good and bad) that will guide the reluctant writer. In addition, I organized the personal statements into four categories: 1.”Grabbers,” 2.“Same Old, Same Old,” 3.Cohesive, and 4.“Too Much God Talk.” As you read the second chapter, it will become clearer what exactly these categories mean.

I have devoted the third section to gathering the opinions of others who use them to decide the candidates. I interviewed residency directors, teachers, clinicians, and others who know the importance of personal statements. Their best advice, pit falls, and inspiring comments will help you figure out what the interviewers are looking for in a candidate.

My second objective for this resource is to prepare you for the interviewing process. The fourth section is designed to cover the more important points in preparation for the interview. If followed, the student will be reasonably well prepared for the actual interview. Having reviewed much of what is available, I do not expect to compete with Iserson’s Getting into a Residency or with another well used resourceStrolling Through the Match, compiled by the American Academy of Family Physicians. However, by reading this resource, you will gain better insight for getting into some of Loma Linda University’s programs.

And finally in section five, I want to motivate all young doctors to be a better healer, a life-long learner, and a sensitive and compassionate person. One way to achieve these goals is to hear from others who have been in the “trenches” or felt the bullets of complaints, the sting of death, the overwhelming joy of a skillful surgery, and the triumph of a healing relationship with their patients. In the final chapter, you will hear from seven discerning physicians at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and graduates, who will share their astute wisdom and vast experience.

This project has morphed from a book to an online resource, and with this change I have decided to open it up to all of our alumni.  An invitation will be sent to “seasoned“ (10-40 years) alumni who would like to share their best “medical gems.” The details of the format will be discussed in Chapter 5.

My principle intention is to broaden the student’s perspective, deepen the experience, and lessen their stress as they find their way through the maze of material on their specialty journey.




Dr. Barbara Orr ’70 is a loyal supporter of Loma Linda University School of Medicine and truly believes in the mission of this institution. Since October 1972, she has worked at Loma Linda University, initially as assistant director of the emergency department and then as a founding member of the family medicine department. She was the medical director of the faculty clinic for 10 years and then the predoctoral director of family medicine for nearly 12 years.


Roger Hadley, M.D. ’74
Montri Wongworawat, M.D. ’96