The Goal of the MSPE
In the words of the AAMC: “The purpose of the MSPE is… to provide an honest and objective summary of the student’s personal attributes, experiences, and academic accomplishments based, to the greatest degree possible, on verifiable information and summative evaluations. When possible, comparative assessments of the student’s attributes, experiences, and accomplishments relative to their institutional peers should be provided. The MSPE should primarily contain information about the student’s medical school performance, although a brief summary of verifiable premedical experiences and achievements can be included when relevant. The MSPE is a summary letter of evaluation, not a letter of recommendation. Information presented in the MSPE must be standardized, clear, and concise and presented in such a way that allows information to be easily located within the document.”
Noteworthy Characteristics (NC)
The noteworthy characteristics section includes information intended to help residency program selection committees review applicants holistically in order to achieve a residency class that brings a diverse set of background experiences, characteristics, and perspectives.
Here are the guidelines for this section as outlined by the AAMC:
- Provide a maximum of three characteristics highlighting the most salient noteworthy characteristics of the student.
- This section should be presented as a bulleted list. Each characteristic should be described in 2 sentences or less. Information about any significant challenges or hardships encountered by the student during medical school may be included.
- Lengthy biographical descriptions are not recommended due to the time required for review and because these details can be found in other sections of the applicant’s portfolio (e.g., ERAS application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, interviews).
Please don’t be anxious about this. The Student Affairs Office will guide you through the process on an individual basis. To get started, your task now is to generate at least three noteworthy characteristics to include in your MSPE, with a maximum of ten. You will review these items in your Dean’s meeting and together you will select up to three bullet points to include in your MSPE.
While in most cases NCs will be related to your experiences in medical school, if you have had a major life event or experience prior to medical school that you might want to share, you may include it.
All NCs should be written in the third-person, past tense – no “I” statements.
Ideas for NCs
- Activities to address healthcare disparities
- Community service
- Explanations of any difficulties
- Leadership positions
- Life experiences
- Way in which you spent a year off from medical school
Sample noteworthy characteristics, shared with us by the AAMC:
- During her second year, Jill served as the student coordinator for the Community-Based Sanctuary Clinic and secured a $500,000 grant from the United Way of Maine to equip a new seven-room ophthalmology suite for the facility.
- Jill passed her USMLE Step 1 examination two months after the death of her mother in a motor vehicle accident.
- Jill gave birth to a son this past August. She successfully completed all her M3 clinical rotations on time, spent the month of August on a pre-arranged research rotation, and commenced her Emergency Medicine rotation in mid-September.
- Joe began has been conducting research with Myrna Loy, MD, PhD, on the subject of epigenetic factors influencing childhood obesity since the end of his first year of medical school. This research has resulted in a series of publications including one with him as first author in the journal Lancet.
- Joe is the first member of his family to graduate from college.