What to write in secondary essays for medical school

Proven strategies to write your diversity, challenge, and "why us?" medical school secondary essays

Schools may ask why you have chosen to apply to their institution or how you believe their program fits your career goals. Do not treat this question like a homework assignment wherein you have to pick out as many features of the school as possible and list them in your response. Instead, choose a few of the opportunities the school offers and relate them to your interests.

For example, if you have devoted significant time to research in your premedical career and the school has a specific research-based curriculum designed for medical students, describe how this program ties into your interests and aspirations. Alternatively, you may find that the school offers a curriculum that aligns with your learning style.

Strategies for Writing Secondary Essays for Medical School

You can describe, for example, how you have thrived when learning in groups in the past and that you wish to attend this program because of the emphasis on group-based learning in the curriculum. The diversity question.

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Many schools will want to know what makes you diverse, how you will contribute diversity to the institution or how your diversity will help you as a physician. When we think of diversity, the first thing that comes to mind is cultural or ethnic diversity. You can certainly talk about your cultural, ethnic or even religious background to answer this question, but keep in mind that diversity is not limited to your heritage.

How to Answer 3 Medical School Secondary Application Questions

It can be diversity in the way of experiences, interests, hobbies or life story. If you majored in computer science as an undergraduate or played cricket, these experiences can make you diverse. When you respond to this question, go beyond what makes you diverse and outline exactly how this diversity will help you contribute as a medical student or future physician.

One applicant, for example, explained how she is diverse because of the unique experience of growing up with nine younger siblings.

How To Write Secondary Essays For Medical School

She described how she helped her parents raise her siblings and learned to be more responsible as well as a better team player. Another student who majored in anthropology described how her undergraduate education gave her unique insight into human culture and made her better equipped to care for patients.

The challenge question. One common essay prompt in medical school secondaries asks applicants to describe a challenge, adversity or hardship. The exact nature of the question may vary from school to school. Read the prompt first and understand exactly what the medical school means by challenge or hardship. The school may be referring to a personal hardship or a professional challenge — or the question may not specify, in which case you can choose either.

Six Most Common Medical School Secondary Essays to Pre-Write

Regardless of the specifics of the question, stay positive. Do not make yourself sound like a victim or come across as if you are seeking pity from the reader. Instead, describe the challenging situation in a matter-of-fact fashion and explain what approach you used to overcome the challenge.

End by explaining what lessons you took away from the difficult experience and how you grew.

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  6. Another tip on secondaries: Start early. Although there is overlap among schools, you may have twenty to thirty of these to write, depending on the number of applications you send. On completing her residency at Harvard, she was asked to stay on as faculty at Harvard Medical School and spent five years teaching at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital. She was appointed to the Assistant Residency Director position for the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency where she reviewed countless applications, personal statements and resumes.

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    Michelle Finkel. Sign Up. Listen to Dr. Why Us Dr. Michelle Finkel, a former Harvard residency admissions officer, uses her expertise to provide individually-tailored advice to candidates applying to medical school, residency, fellowship, post baccalaureate and dental school programs.