The Personal Statement for Promotion Dossiers

Hopefully you found some helpful tips for updating your CV after the last few posts, whether for promotion or just for general updating. For those faculty currently working on promotion materials, let’s take a look at the personal statement.

Peter Snyder, MD, associate dean for faculty affairs and development, advises that “the personal statement is the most important part of the promotion dossier. It should not just be a re-listing of items on your CV, but it should bring to life the things you are doing. Tell a story that indicates the importance and impact of your work.”

If you struggle to find the right words or need help just getting started, you can find examples of personal statements for promotion in the health care and bioresearch fields online. The Office of Faculty Affairs also provides de-identified statement samples for research and clinical faculty (both assistant to associate and associate to professor).

If you do gather ideas from examples, be careful to rewrite your statement in your own words and voice. Use phrases and language that are familiar to you and sound like you. Do not copy and paste from another personal statement—it’s easier to recognize this than you might think.

My best advice for getting started is to first create an outline. Jot down the main areas that are required and specifics that you want to cover. You don’t even have to write full sentences at this point.

Once the outline is done and the structure of your statement is set, filling in details should be a little easier. Start with an introduction that discusses the foundation of your career, work, and interests, and how you have built upon that foundation. 

Emphasize your activities and accomplishments in terms of how they have benefited your growth as a clinician and/or researcher, as well as what your work has contributed to your greater area of expertise and our own institutions.

Be sure to include recognitions of your work. Recognitions could include letters from your division or department executive, media coverage, or work that was highlighted at a conference.

Finish your statement with a summary of your accomplishments and your goals for the next few years. You’re not only highlighting what you have done, but what you plan to do next.

Finally, don’t forget the small details: spell out abbreviations and acronyms that are common in your field but may not be recognized by others; make sure your statement looks neat and clean, with consistent font, line spacing, and indentations; double-check that any names and titles are correct; and most importantly, have someone else read it over. A fresh pair of eyes may catch areas that need a bit of refining.

As always, if you would like assistance with your personal statement, please feel free to contact me at kristina-greiner@uiowa.edu.

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