Personal Statement Examples Veterinary Residency

Sometimes there is a special lady we’d like to tell you about—her story inspires us, and we’d like to get deeper into it. Here’s introducing Dr. M Phyllis Lose.

From her first paid operation to deodorize a pet skunk to becoming the first woman to build an equine surgical hospital, this world-famous “horse doctor” has done more in her lifetime than many men and women.

M. Phyllis Lose, VMD, may no longer be practicing, but she is far from retired: this active, energetic woman—who graduated from University of Pennsylvania veterinary school in 1957 and became the first woman equine veterinarian—has stayed abreast developments in veterinary medicine since she put down her scalpel and continues to do so today.

“Bowed tendons used to be a two-year sentence for a horse,” says Dr. Lose. “The developments they’ve made with stem cells almost make me want to go back into practice.”

After around 50 years in practice, Lose closed her Berwyn, Penn., hospital to pursue her dog Oscar’s movie career in Orlando, Florida, just a few years ago.

Dr Lose admits that she only recently developed a love for dogs: her first passion is taking care of horses.

When she graduated from University of Pennsylvania, she was one of two women in a class of 50. At that time, the prevailing attitude was that a female who studied veterinary medicine was only took up space that a man could use for a career that would feed his family.

But Dr. Lose was used to accomplishing whatever she set out to do, so no one else’s opinion deterred her. Many childhood lessons helped her get through vet school and through her long, eventful career.

If she got a “no” at any time of her life, says Dr. Lose, it just made her work that much harder.

She said she didn’t waste time being heartbroken. She just studied harder, worked harder and never let it show. She was raised at the time when your parents told you to pull your boot straps up and keep going.

In addition to being the first woman equine vet in the US, Dr. Lose was the third woman in the country to hold a horse trainer’s license. At age 19, she was also the then-youngest to hold this license.

Dr. Lose notes that in 1953, the common belief was that equine vets were on their way out, due to the rapid developments of city life and world changes. “They thought small animal practices would be where the money was,” Dr. Lose says. But she knew from the start she was going to be a horse doctor.

Dr. Lose never married, perhaps due to her tough schedule and driving discipline. But nothing would change her mind about being an equine veterinarian.

Dr. Lose’s worst patient ever was a South American vulture that belonged to her client Daniel Mannix. He asked her to take a look at it while she was there, and the bird pecked a chunk out of her head. Dr. Lose wore a bloody turban as she finished her rounds at other clients’ barns, but she and Mannix remained friends. He helped her write her autobiography: “No Job for a Lady,” in 1978.

Dr. Lose’s has also written Blessed are the Broodmares (1991); Blessed are the Foals (1987, 1998); and Keep Your Horse Healthy (1986). They have been translated into three different languages.

Dr. Lose opened two equine veterinary hospitals in Pennsylvania. She was the first woman equine vet to do this. Her second hospital specialized in orthopedic, colic and soft tissue damage cases, and had an innovative surgical suite and recovery area.

“But fate is funny,” she says, telling us how she closed that practice and moved to Florida. Her dog won $5,500 in a national Purina dog food contest in 1999, and when she was invited to take him to Orlando to audition for a movie in 2000, she decided to close her doors.

After relocating to Florida, she had to take her boards again. She was the oldest person there on test day. Fingers flying on the keyboard, she was the first to finish. Since then, she has worked as a track vet, which gave her an income while she was in Florida waiting for the movie to start filming.

Dr. Lose has seen a tremendous change in the past 20 years in the way women veterinarians plan their careers.

“Today, you don’t see women going into private practice alone,” she says. “They are in groups with other men and women, or as employees of a practice—maybe because it makes it easier to be married with children,” Dr. Lose says. “Mares always seem to foal at night, and it’s easier to leave your children at home if you have someone else to watch them, or another doctor to share the calls with.”

With a laugh, she offers this advice to young vets:

“Never make friends of horse owners. You are never not a vet—you can’t just go visit someone because they will say, ‘While you are here ...’”

Dr. Lose loves everything the job has shown her over the last 50 years, though more than a few successes stand out. At her surgical hospital, she developed a procedure that transects the check ligament sheath, which released the tendon and resulted in nearly 100 percent success in every club-footed horse she tried it on. “I’d like to write one more good paper on club-footed foals,” says Dr. Lose.

She also prides herself on never having an animal with a post-op infection, which she credits to her obsession with general cleanliness.

She does wish she had stayed up later, and gotten up earlier: “Which is hard to do when you are already working almost around the clock.”

Hardworkin’ woman! And vets generally are, working passionately from dawn till way after dusk. Are you keen to do a master’s in veterinary medicine? If so, why not get us to ease your passage into grad school. That’s what we’re here for! Cut through that competition.

The residency application process is all business. Those who read your essay are not looking for novel styling, mysterious openings, or poetic phrasing; instead, they are looking for a clear statement of why you want to pursue a career in that particular specialty.

Like the AMCAS personal statement, residency personal statements are open ended in that there's no specific prompt. However, your residency matching application essay will need to be even more focused than the one that you submitted to medical school. Keep in mind that you are ultimately applying for a job, and your residency essay should reflect a strong level of professionalism.

One of the biggest mistakes that we see in residency essays is organizing them like med school application essays. Some applicants even try to use their med school essay as the basis for their residency essay. On the surface, this makes sense. Obviously, your medical school application essay was successful, so you want to repeat that success in the residency matching process.

However, we definitely recommend starting your residency essay from scratch. The selectors really only want to know about your life after you began medical school, so you'll need to draw upon those experiences to create an effective essay. Also, there is a strong trend within residency matching for shorter and shorter essays. No specialty is looking for an essay of longer than one page and one paragraph, but limiting the essay to fewer than 700 words is a good guideline.  

Additionally, we've learned that creative essays don't perform particularly well in the matching process. Residency selectors are looking for very specific things within the essay, and they want to know how you'll fit in to their program. It's called 'matching' for a reason, and you'll need to show the selectors that you have a place with them as a resident.

Here are the main content areas that we suggest covering in your residency essay:

Why have you chosen this specialty?

In the first part of your residency statement, you should discuss what in particular has interested you about the specialty you've chosen, and how you've built experience in that field. If you're planning on devoting your life to internal medicine, radiology, or any other focused branch of medicine, you must have a clear reason for doing so. Thus, make sure that the reader comes away from this section understanding what has led you to this profession.

Why do you think you will excel in this specialty?

Not every med school student will have equal interest in, let alone talent for, every specialty. What about you makes this specialty the right match for your personality and goals? Help the selectors see that you have what it takes to thrive in the specialty. A meticulous person can feel right at home doing gross and checks in pathology. Excellent manual dexterity can ensure success as a surgeon. Persistence in solving complex puzzles can serve you well as an internist. In this part of the essay, make connections between general talents and your chosen specialty.

What are you seeking in a residency?

Next, write about how you intend to further that experience during your residency and what specifically you're seeking in a residency. Don't talk about specific locations, though, as you'll likely send this essay to a large number of facilities. You've got a solid base of experience already, but during your residency you're going to become an expert. What will you contribute? You may want to write about things like teamwork, continuous learning, and passion for patient care.

How do you see your career in this field progressing?

Finally, look past your residency to give the reader an idea of what you plan to do with your accrued knowledge once you have completed your residency. Show the residency selectors how you will use the knowledge and skills that you gained in the residency for the benefit of patients. Do you envision yourself pursuing research? Working in a university? Being a provider in underserved regions? Tell them your vision for your career as a physician.

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