The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), sometimes known as the “Dean’s Letter,” is a critical document used in the residency application process in the United States. The dean’s office generally prepares it at your medical school and comprehensively assesses your performance throughout your medical education.
The MSPE is submitted as part of your Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) application and is read by residency program directors and selection committees when considering applicants for residency positions. These professionals are responsible for deciding which candidates are the best fit for their residency programs.
The Noteworthy Characteristics section within the MSPE is particularly significant. It provides a space to highlight your unique attributes, experiences, and accomplishments that might not be immediately apparent from your academic record or other parts of your application. This section is a way to humanize your application and provide context to your academic and extracurricular achievements, making you more memorable to the residency selectors.
Given its audience and purpose, the MSPE, particularly the Noteworthy Characteristics section, can be pivotal in determining your success in securing a residency spot, especially in more competitive specialties.
Your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) is crucial in medical residency admissions. The MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics section is especially vital, offering a platform for your evaluators to spotlight three traits they feel best represent your capabilities and potential as a medical resident.
This guide aims to be your one-stop resource for mastering the MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics section, an essential element of your successful residency application.
What Sets the MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics Section Apart?
Unlike other areas of your MSPE, this section asks your evaluators to describe three specific traits or experiences that capture the essence of who you are. These can range from specific achievements in medical internships abroad to unique hobbies that showcase a different facet of your personality. What makes this section challenging is its brevity: each trait must be summarized in just two sentences.
The limitation on length poses a unique challenge. Given the competitive nature of residency—especially in the most competitive medical specialties—there’s a strong temptation for verbose and aggressive self-promotion. However, the word count restriction demands creativity, requiring you and your evaluators to be incredibly precise.
The Importance of the MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics Section
Is this section crucial? Absolutely. While clerkship evaluations hold significant weight in the MSPE, the Noteworthy Characteristics section isn’t far behind. It contextualizes the rest of the document, giving Medical Residency Admissions Consulting teams a fuller understanding of you as an individual. For a more comprehensive look at the MSPE’s role in the residency application process, consult this ERAS Residency Application guide.
Your Role in Crafting This Section
Usually, you’ll have some influence over the Noteworthy Characteristics. Typically, medical schools invite students to discuss their draft characteristics with MSPE evaluators—often faculty and Deans—in the Spring of the third year. You’re usually responsible for the first draft of this section, which your evaluators will then refine.
Common Themes in MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics
The traits you can include here are wide-ranging:
- Academic achievements or research contributions
- Leadership in student organizations or volunteer work
- Milestones or impactful life experiences
- Hobbies or skills that demonstrate unique interests
- Overcoming challenges or setbacks
Consider mentioning these accomplishments for those who have excelled in academic research. If you’re leaning toward competitive fields, your Noteworthy Characteristics can subtly hint at why you’d excel in the most competitive medical specialties. Learn more about these specialties here.
Tips for Crafting Impactful Entries
Instead of saying you’re committed to improving your surgical skills, you could say, “On weekends, Jamal meticulously practices suture techniques on simulation models, an endeavor initiated out of his interest.”
Share the Story, Not Just the Outcome
If you’ve had a research breakthrough, detail how that breakthrough came about. For instance, “During his medical internships abroad, Maureen pioneered a technique for more effective drug delivery, which is currently undergoing trials.”
By carefully crafting this section, you can make your MSPE—and your overall ERAS Residency Application—more compelling. For those interested in Medical Residency Admissions Consulting services, you can find a definitive guide on Residency Letters of Intent here. And for a broader ethical context to medical practice, the Hippocratic Oath: First Do No Harm offers valuable insights.
The Value of the MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics Section
This section allows evaluators to outline three qualities or experiences that best define you. While clerkship evaluations are crucial, the Noteworthy Characteristics section adds another dimension to your application, often catching the eye of Medical Residency Admissions Consulting teams.
Typically, medical schools encourage students to work closely with their MSPE evaluators to draft these characteristics. The process usually begins in the third year of medical school.
Common topics in this section can range from academic achievements to milestones and even setbacks you’ve successfully managed. This offers a good chance to mention any remarkable experiences from medical internships abroad or highlight your fitness for the most competitive medical specialties.
Highlighting Resilience and Adaptability
Even though it’s typical to focus on achievements and positive aspects, sometimes your ability to overcome challenges can speak volumes about your character. Here are some modified examples:
- Tristan faced a significant loss in his family during his M2 year but bounced back with determination. He became involved in a grief counseling program and earned top grades in his classes.
- Simone, struggling with dyslexia, took advantage of available resources and focused on improving her academic skills. She tutored other medical students in anatomy, receiving commendations for her teaching abilities.
Both examples present a comprehensive picture that goes beyond mere accomplishments. They speak to the individuals’ character and adaptability, underscoring their resilience in facing challenges.
Self-Reflection is Key
Before jotting down your Noteworthy Characteristics, take a moment to introspect. This exercise not only aids you in understanding yourself better but also benefits crafting your Personal Statement. Both documents are interconnected, woven from the fabric of your life experiences.
You could start with a set of questions akin to those that might pop up in interviews for medical school or residency programs:
- What are your thoughts on telemedicine in rural healthcare?
- How have you managed work-life balance during medical school?
- What lessons have you learned from your clinical experiences?
Getting input from other medical students or even residents can be immensely helpful. If you are stumped or need inspiration, don’t hesitate to look at examples. And if you’re targeting competitive residencies, insights from current or past residents can give you a strategic advantage.
Crafting a Balanced Narrative
Although you’re confined to a limit of three Noteworthy Characteristics, see it as an opportunity to form a clear, focused narrative. Your bullet points can follow a thematic or chronological structure, offering a snapshot that is both individual and comprehensive.
Consider this sample for someone aiming for a surgical residency:
- Alexandra led an initiative to streamline the pre-operative checklist process, improving efficiency by 15%, which received a commendation from hospital administrators.
- While in medical school, Alexandra actively participated in a community health program focused on preventative care for diabetes. Her initiatives led to a 20% increase in community participation.
- In her surgical rotations, Alexandra was noted for her meticulous technique and ability to put patients at ease before complex procedures. Several patients mentioned her calming influence in their feedback to attending physicians.
Each bullet point presents a distinct facet of Alexandra’s career and interests, but combined, they offer a harmonious depiction of her qualities. Thus, they allow the reader to appreciate her multi-dimensional healthcare contributions and suitability for a surgical residency.
How is the MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics Section Written?
If you’re in the process of preparing your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) for the ERAS Residency Application, the Noteworthy Characteristics section is a chance to shine. You will typically schedule a meeting with a team of faculty and Deans—your MSPE evaluators—in the Spring of your M3 year. In preparation for this meeting, it is generally advisable to draft 3-4 Noteworthy Characteristics, which will be reviewed and potentially edited during the meeting.
Institutional Guidelines and Common Focus Areas
Although guidelines differ from school to school, a few recurring areas of focus are often recommended:
- Academic and scholarly accomplishments include research publications, poster presentations, or any academic honors you’ve received.
- Leadership activities: Whether you were a student body president or led a student-run free clinic, leadership roles can speak volumes about your abilities.
- Unique life events: Perhaps you’ve had experiences that have deeply influenced your perspective on medicine or life.
- Extracurricular involvement: Hobbies or interests outside of medicine can provide a fuller view of who you are, indicating skills like patience or meticulousness that are useful in a medical setting.
- Overcoming adversity: Confronting and overcoming challenges can show your resilience, a quality highly valued in medicine.
Remember, the focus here is not to explicitly list characteristics that make you a great future doctor but rather to detail experiences or qualities that imply it. For example, instead of stating outright that you excel in emergency medicine, you could talk about an instance where you had to think quickly to provide first aid in a critical situation. This shows your competency in emergencies without directly saying so.
- Highlight Cross-cultural Experiences: It can be worth mentioning if you have had medical internships abroad. This showcases your adaptability and exposure to different healthcare systems.
- Language Skills: Multilingual can be an asset, especially in diverse environments, as it can broaden your patient communication scope.
- Resourcefulness: As an international student, you may have unique experiences in navigating different administrative or educational landscapes. This is an opportunity to highlight your problem-solving skills.
- Research Contributions: If you’ve had the opportunity to contribute to international research collaborations, especially those that have made an impact, don’t forget to mention them.
- Global Health Interests: If you’re aiming for competitive medical specialties, highlighting any experiences or interests in global health can be a good strategy.
The Noteworthy Characteristics section is a pivotal component of your MSPE, especially in the eyes of Medical Residency Admissions Consulting professionals. This section allows you to present a rounded picture of who you are and what you bring to the table in a medical and academic context. By meticulously selecting and presenting your characteristics, you maximize your potential to stand out in an increasingly competitive field.
- Those looking for insights on competitive fields may find this article on the most competitive medical specialties useful.
- For a broad perspective on the ERAS Residency Application process, consult this ERAS Residency Application guide.
- For information on how to write a residency letter of intent, check out this comprehensive article.
By thoughtfully crafting this section of your MSPE, you can increase your chances of standing out in your residency applications.
Noteworthy Characteristics Example
Each entry under “Noteworthy Characteristics” in the MSPE document should not exceed 300 characters, spaces included. Limit descriptions to a maximum of two sentences for each characteristic.
Your MSPE document must stay within a seven-page length, using single spacing and a font size of 12 points. The document is structured into six main categories:
- Identifying Information
- Noteworthy Characteristics
- Academic History
- Academic Progress
- Medical School Information
Arrange your entries as bullet points for the “Noteworthy Characteristics” part. These characteristics can fall under three categories: Personal Attributes, Experiences, and Accomplishments. Make sure to back up each characteristic with credible evidence and overall evaluations.
Note: Each characteristic is supported by verifiable information and summative evaluations, limited to 300 characters per bullet point.
- Personal Attributes:Emma demonstrates exceptional empathy and active listening skills. During her psychiatry rotation, both patients and supervisors praised her ability to make people feel understood.
- Experiences:Emma spent her gap year working at a rural clinic in Nepal. Her experience significantly influenced her commitment to global health equity.
- Accomplishments:Emma secured a grant for public health research focused on improving maternal health in low-income communities. The project is ongoing and has already led to actionable insights.
In accordance with MSPE guidelines, this document is written in 12-point font and is set to be within the seven-page single-spaced limit. Each characteristic is described in two sentences or fewer, falling within the 300-character limit.
IMA's Recommended Guidelines for Noteworthy Characteristics Bullet Points
This segment highlights your distinct activities and accomplishments, focusing mainly on your time in medical school. You can also include unique background elements, like extraordinary experiences or research ventures.
- Scrutinize various sections of your CV, such as Leadership, Community Service, Research, Professional Experience, and Mentoring.
- Select 3 items that encapsulate the breadth of your experiences across different areas of your CV.
- Formulate bullet points accordingly.
Using this space to discuss extenuating factors affecting your medical education is generally inadvisable. Should you consider including such information, consult an advisor.
Guidelines (Do's and Don'ts)
- DO: Use a third-person format.
- DO: Limit each bullet point to 1-2 sentences, not exceeding 2-3 lines. (300-word cap, spaces inclusive).
- DO: Stick to factual information about medical school experiences such as Research, Service Learning, Leadership Roles, and Awards.
- DO: Add any special experiences you had before medical school if relevant.
- DON’T: Mention religious or political affiliations.
- DON’T: Focus on specialties; your interests might change.
- DON’T: Evaluate your own performance.
- DON’T: Incorporate future goals or plans.
Bullet Point Samples
- Candidate A initiated a service project that assisted refugees in medical appointment scheduling and offered free clinics for disadvantaged populations.
- Candidate B was an active member of the Student Wellness Board, promoting mental and physical well-being among peers through various activities.
- Candidate C was recognized for community engagement, particularly for efforts in youth mentorship and an impactful role in organizing a community health event.
- Candidate D’s bullet mentions undefined leadership experiences and academic presentations. (Vague, needs specifics)
- Candidate E focuses on personal beliefs about healthcare for disadvantaged groups without demonstrating activities. (Lacks supporting evidence)
- Candidate F includes family life and previous job roles unrelated to medical school experiences. (Not directly relevant)
Additional Noteworthy Characteristics MSPE Samples
Alejandro contributed to a community outreach program in Albuquerque, focusing on improving healthcare access for the Hispanic community. He worked on partnerships with local organizations to conduct health screenings.
Bianca was a co-author in a peer-reviewed study on diabetes management in rural populations. Her involvement extended from inception to publishing in the Journal of Rural Health.
Chen participated in a public health campaign in San Francisco’s Chinatown aimed at combating misinformation related to COVID-19. This led to a significant improvement in vaccination rates in the area.
Originally from Cairo, Dalia took part in an exchange program to study healthcare policies in Scandinavian countries. She presented her findings at an international medical ethics seminar.
Emeka has been an active part of the African Students’ Medical Association at Johns Hopkins. He initiated programs that connect students from low-income backgrounds with mentors in the healthcare field.
Faduma worked in a hospice care unit in Minneapolis, focusing on end-of-life treatment for patients from different cultural backgrounds. The State Medical Board has acknowledged her work.
Gaurav took up research at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, investigating innovative ways to treat pancreatic cancer. The project won a grant from the American Cancer Society.
Hadil, who fled Syria as a refugee, worked to address healthcare needs in resettlement camps. She collaborated with international NGOs to improve sanitation and disease control measures.
Ishita conducted public health research among Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, aiming to reduce the rates of alcoholism and substance abuse. Her work was published in the Canadian Medical Journal.
Joon created an online platform for future doctors from underrepresented backgrounds to share experiences and advice. The platform currently has over 1,000 registered users.
Kazu worked in a radiology clinic in Tokyo, where he developed an algorithm for faster image analysis. This resulted in an academic paper and an efficiency boost for the clinic.
Ewa led a public health campaign in Warsaw that focused on early intervention in cases of childhood obesity. The campaign partnered with schools to provide healthy meals and educate children and parents about nutrition. Her work caught the attention of the Ministry of Health, which is considering scaling the program nationwide.
Gaurav in Mumbai was instrumental in setting up a telemedicine service that served rural communities in Maharashtra. His efforts bridged the healthcare access gap for hundreds of remote villages and won him a social innovation award.
Kareem participated in an immunization drive in Cairo focused on measles and polio. His role involved not only the logistical side but also educating communities about the importance of vaccinations. The drive achieved a 95% coverage rate in targeted areas.
Yasmin spent six months in Montreal, researching the effectiveness of various interventions for smoking cessation among teenagers. She published her findings in a Canadian healthcare journal, and several public health agencies are reviewing her recommendations.
Chen engaged in a medical internship in San Francisco, specifically within the Chinese-American community, to study the prevalence of mental health issues. His work contributed to a broader study aiming to develop culturally sensitive mental health services.
Zakaria volunteered in a medical capacity in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on maternal health. His work led to improvements in pre- and post-natal care in several villages, and he collaborated closely with local healthcare workers to ensure the program’s sustainability.
Dragan from Belgrade contributed to a research paper on antibiotic resistance. His findings were crucial in developing new guidelines for antibiotic use in Serbian hospitals, aiming to curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
Joon worked on a digital platform in Seoul that aims to connect North Korean defectors with medical services in South Korea. The platform has effectively provided much-needed healthcare access to this vulnerable population.
Raghav spearheaded a project at a leading hospital in New Delhi focused on optimizing surgical techniques for cataract removal. His work reduced surgery time and better patient outcomes, garnering recognition from medical associations.
Lin collaborated on a public health initiative in Taipei to mitigate air pollution’s effects on respiratory health. The project utilized mobile apps to alert residents of hazardous conditions, and her work is under review for implementation in other cities.
Larisa from Moscow co-authored a paper on the mental health impact of long-term space travel. She has presented her work at the European Space Agency.
Naveen was chosen as a research fellow at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, where he focused on pediatric oncology. His work contributed to the formulation of new treatment protocols.
Olanrewaju managed a mental health initiative in Lagos, aiming to reduce stigmatization. He coordinated with local healthcare providers and community leaders.
Pinar from Istanbul took an active role in addressing the refugee crisis from a medical standpoint. She helped establish mobile clinics providing essential medical care.
Qi from Beijing researched the impact of air pollution on respiratory health. He won a fellowship to further this research at the University of California, Berkeley.
Raghav led a project at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, researching affordable alternatives to costly medical procedures. The Indian Medical Council has recognized his work.
Sachi, of Japanese and Filipino heritage, led an initiative in Honolulu to educate the public on the importance of organ donation within multi-ethnic communities.
Tariq excelled in both his clinical rotations and as a student representative, mediating between faculty and students at his medical school in Dubai.
Ursula worked in an ER in Frankfurt and focused her research on improving triage procedures during mass casualty incidents. Her guidelines are now part of the hospital’s standard operating procedures.
Vivian took up a year-long rural practice assignment in Queensland, Australia, where she worked to improve healthcare access for Aboriginal communities.
Originally from Pakistan, Waseem set up free online seminars for medical aspirants in South Asia, aiming to improve medical education and access.
Xiomara worked with the Latino Medical Student Association in Miami to provide Spanish-language health education materials to local communities.
Yasmeen from Jordan researched waterborne diseases, leading to a community health project aiming to improve water quality in Amman.
Zakaria, a native of Algeria, performed volunteer medical work in sub-Saharan Africa. He provided primary care services and trained local healthcare workers.
Tariq in Dubai focused on integrating Artificial Intelligence in radiology readings, aiming to detect early signs of lung cancer. His work was awarded a grant for further development and is in the trial stage in two healthcare facilities in the UAE.
Pinar in Istanbul spearheaded a program to provide first aid training to volunteers assisting in the refugee crisis. She coordinated with international aid organizations to standardize the training material and has trained over 500 volunteers to date.
Vivian, in Queensland, Australia, initiated a mental health outreach program tailored for Aboriginal communities. Her work involved adapting existing mental health services to be culturally sensitive and inclusive, earning her an award from the Australian Medical Association.
Odette in Port-au-Prince volunteered in a trauma center following the earthquake in Haiti. Her contribution involved surgical assistance and triage, as well as post-operative care for trauma patients. Her service was recognized by several humanitarian organizations.
Mamadou from Dakar worked on a project to reduce the spread of malaria in Senegal. His role involved mapping mosquito breeding grounds and setting up preventative measures, resulting in a 40% reduction in malaria cases in his target area.
Leila conducted research in Tehran on the effectiveness of local herbal remedies in treating common cold symptoms. Her work was published in an Iranian medical journal and caught the attention of pharmaceutical companies interested in natural medicine.
Moises from São Paulo focused his research on the economic impact of delayed diagnosis in Brazil’s public health system. His findings have been used to advocate for streamlining diagnostic procedures, and he’s been invited to speak at several healthcare economics forums.
Sunita in Mumbai organized workshops to train nurses in palliative care, focusing on non-pharmacological interventions. Her efforts have improved the quality of end-of-life care in two major hospitals, and she’s in talks to expand the program across the state.
Elena from Moscow was involved in research that studied the psychosocial aspects of pediatric cancer care. Her work led to the development of support programs for the families of children undergoing cancer treatment, filling a critical gap in holistic care.
Abdul in Riyadh led a team that digitized patient records in three major hospitals. The transition to a digital system has made patient care more efficient and reduced errors significantly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the optimal length for the Noteworthy Characteristics in my MSPE?
There is no strict word limit for the Noteworthy Characteristics section of your MSPE. However, it’s advisable to be concise while being informative, aiming for approximately 200-300 words. The key is to provide enough detail to paint a full picture of your abilities, experiences, and attributes without overwhelming the reader.
What should be highlighted in the Noteworthy Characteristics section?
Include accomplishments, skills, or experiences that differentiate you as a candidate. This can range from clinical experiences, research contributions, leadership roles, to unique life experiences that have informed your path in medicine. The goal is to highlight aspects that aren’t easily gleaned from the rest of your application.
How crucial is the Noteworthy Characteristics part?
The Noteworthy Characteristics section serves as a qualitative counterpoint to the rest of the MSPE, which is often filled with grades and test scores. It provides an opportunity to show a more personal side, and can be crucial in differentiating you from other applicants, especially in highly competitive medical specialties.
What's the standard length for an entire MSPE?
The length of the entire MSPE can vary widely depending on your academic and extracurricular experiences. However, it’s generally between 7 to 12 pages. Keep in mind that the document should be comprehensive but not unnecessarily lengthy; include only pertinent information.
Who is responsible for writing the Noteworthy Characteristics?
Typically, the Dean’s Office or the Office of Student Affairs at your medical school will compile the MSPE. The Noteworthy Characteristics section is usually drafted in consultation with you, the student, to ensure accurate representation.
Is it advisable to include research or academic work in the Noteworthy Characteristics?
Yes, including research or scholarly work can be beneficial, especially if the work has been published or received awards. This information adds weight to your academic profile and could make you stand out in fields that value research.
Should issues or lapses in professionalism be included in the Noteworthy Characteristics?
Generally, the Noteworthy Characteristics section is not the appropriate place to discuss lapses in professionalism or academic issues. Those are usually addressed elsewhere in the MSPE or during interviews, if necessary.
Is an MSPE mandatory, or can a Dean’s Letter suffice?
The MSPE has become a standard part of the ERAS Residency Application process and is considered essential by most residency programs in the U.S. A Dean’s Letter is generally not considered an adequate substitute. You should consult with your school to ensure that a complete MSPE can be produced.
In summing up the diverse array of MSPE Noteworthy Characteristics, we’ve aimed to provide a comprehensive outlook on what can make a candidate stand out in the eyes of Medical Residency Admissions Consulting services. From academic accolades to substantial contributions to the community, these characteristics can greatly influence your ERAS Residency Application.
The Noteworthy Characteristics section is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Incorporating unique experiences such as medical internships abroad can provide valuable global perspectives, increasingly becoming a focal point in medical education and training. Not only can these international experiences elevate your MSPE, but they can also make you a strong candidate for some of the most competitive medical specialties.
Consulting services like International Medical Aid offer knowledge for crafting an impactful MSPE and choosing and succeeding in medical internships abroad. We can guide you through the entire Medical Residency Admissions Consulting process, helping you curate experiences and accolades that will enrich your professional portfolio.
Reviewing sample MSPEs and using them as reference points for your own can add further depth and polish to your application. It can help you understand how to articulate your skills, experiences, and contributions compellingly and relevant to the specialty or specialties you are interested in. It’s essential to strike the right balance to reflect your individuality and suitability for a medical career.
As we’ve outlined, the MSPE is critical to your ERAS Residency Application. It’s an opportunity to highlight your strengths, demonstrate your commitment to medicine, and underscore why you would be an asset to a residency program, especially in the most competitive medical specialties.
In an increasingly interconnected global health landscape, having a well-crafted MSPE with a robust set of Noteworthy Characteristics can be your passport to a fulfilling and impactful medical career. To ensure you navigate this complex process as effectively as possible, consider partnering with International Medical Aid for Medical Residency Admissions Consulting. This kind of professional guidance can prove invaluable in setting you apart as a well-rounded, competent, and promising future physician.
By integrating these critical elements into your ERAS Residency Application and MSPE, you’re building a strong case for your admission and laying down a solid foundation for a successful medical career.