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Personal Branding is often associated with social media and how to turn yourself into into a product that you can sell widely online. While social media is a venue to communicate your brand, the most important aspect of branding yourself is authenticity. Ashley Wendel explains that creating a brand helps you develop “a reputation that makes people want to work with you, that allows them to trust you, and gives them an expectation of quality and delivery that meets their unique needs.” In other words, you cannot effectively “sell yourself” to residency programs unless what you are saying is true. Taking the time during your training in medical school to define who you are and then learn how to communicate this to others, will positively impact your medical school experience, the residency application process, and your future career.

Defining Your Brand – What are you the “go to” for?

The reason the RealMD program starts with self-assessments including CliftonStrengths is to provide a starting point in identifying your talents and strengths. This is an important part of defining your brand. One of the first steps, is to take note of how your strengths impact the people around you. What do people naturally seek you out for? Noticing what things people seek you out for, will provide further insight about your brand. Renowned management consultant, Peter Drucker, encourages a self-reflection process with the following prompts: What are my strengths? How do I work? What are my values? The RealMD program will coach you in finding answers to these questions and you can use them as building blocks to define your brand.  

Communicating Your Brand – What do you want people to remember about you?

Once you have defined your brand, the next step is to become intentional about how you communicate it to others. In your interactions, what do you want people to remember about you? Being intentional means that you take control of the messages that are already being communicated in your interactions. In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey uses the analogy of an emotional bank account to explain how our interactions reinforce a positive or negative brand. In his example, positive deposits are made through kindness and keeping promises. On the flip side, withdrawals are made when promises are broken or when people are put down. The way you use your strengths when working with others matters and the sum of these interactions creates a positive or negative self-brand.

Future Career – What can I contribute?

The RealMD program will take you through the residency application process starting in your third year and culminating with Match Day. As you apply to residcncy programs, the work you have done to define and communicate your brand has the potential to make the application process much stronger. Your ability to communicate your values, strengths, and the contribution you will make will help you stand out in a sea of written applications look very similar. Participants in RealMD have appreciated the time they took starting in their first year to define their brand and have felt that they could communicate clearly in interviews who they are and what they bring to table resulting in strong interviews and a successful match.