University of Pittsburgh Medical School 2016 Secondary Application Essay Tips

Secondary Essay tips - download a copy today!UPSOM places special emphasis on their collaborative problem-based curriculum and the fact that their medical students begin interacting with patients in their first year of medical school.  Providing the best care to patients through research, education, leadership and diversity is central to their mission.  In your own background, how can you demonstrate your commitment to service?  Have you experienced the patient side of medicine yourself or through family members?  How have these unique life experiences and the communities you have served contributed to your unique development and identity?

University of Pittsburgh 2016 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

•  Two short essays with 250 word limits are required.

•  Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.

•  Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths and how they relate to the mission and values of UPSOM.

Application Tip: Check out the UPSOM admissions committee procedures and criteria:

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

1. Tell us about a challenging problem you faced and how you resolved it. (Limit your response to 250 words or less.)

Given UPSOM’s focus on one-on-one patient interactions, use an experience in which you were able to resolve a professional conflict.  Emphasize the role that you played in finding a solution and the skills you employed to identify and implement a positive outcome that was mutually beneficial for all parties involved.  I recommend using an issue that has a clear positive resolution and one that is not personal in nature. 

2. UPSOM is a culturally diverse and talented community. How would you enrich/enliven the UPSOM community? The essay should discuss material that is not included in the rest of your application. (Limit your response to 250 words or less.)

To best address this essay, take your time to make a long list of your unique qualities, talents and experiences—the longer the better.  Cross out those items that you have already included in your personal statement.  Identify your top three on the list—as they relate to UPSOM’s mission and goals.  Explain how those three identifiers will allow you to connect with the community and how they represent you an individual.   

UPSOM Application Timeline:

University of Pittsburgh 2016 Secondary Essay Timeline

*Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.

If you would like professional guidance with your University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UPSOM application materials.

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Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

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The 4 Must-Haves Of A Grad School Application

Listen to the show!Linda Abraham has been living and breathing admissions for over 20 years. Does she know the secret to getting accepted to graduate school? Well, since you asked – yes she does.

Listen to the show (and takes notes!) for the four things you need to know and do to get admitted to your top choice grad school.

00:00:36 – Obsessed with stats? You may be barking up the wrong tree.

00:03:16 – Linda’s holistic framework for grad school admissions success.

00:04:39 – #1: Show you can excel: the role of grades and test scores.

00:05:30 – #2: Don’t apply to med school to become a financial analyst (but do apply if you want to be a doctor) AKA the importance of goals.

00:06:44 – #3: Can you show fit?

00:08:19 – #4: Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Just kidding.

Applying the framework to:

00:12:26 – MBA Admissions.

00:18:47 – Grad School Admissions.

00:21:44 – Med School Admissions.

00:24:29 – Law School Admissions.

Click here to listen to the show!*Theme music is courtesy of

Related links:

Get Accepted to HBS / Wharton / Stanford CBS
Get Accepted to Medical School in 2016
Writing Secondary Essays that Get You Accepted

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How To Think Like A Dean Of Admissions
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Register to learn how to get accepted to Wharton!

Lack Of Substance: Med School Application Flaw #1

Download a copy of Navigate a Med School Maze.

Use good examples to bring your essays to life and engage the reader.

“Lack of Substance” is the first post in our series, 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Med School Essays.

Writing about nothing tends to bore, like a trite sitcom or movie with no plot. They lack substance and so will your essay if it isn’t based on:

• Substantive self-reflection.

• Use of specifics, examples, and anecdotes.

• Willingness to reveal your thought processes and feelings.

So start your writing process with self-knowledge. You don’t have to search the internet or a large library. Start with your experiences and your dreams. Search your head and your heart. That is where the substance of a good personal statement is stored.

Then use anecdotes, specifics, and examples to reveal what’s in your heart and show that your dreams are grounded in experience. Good examples can bring your essays to life and engage the reader.

At the same time, recognize that essays with only examples and anecdotes don’t reveal your thought processes and consequently are also superficial. Make sure you balance your stories with insight and analysis.

Avoid Fatal Flaw #1: Bring your personal statements to life with self-reflection and astute use of examples balanced by analysis.

Navigate the Med Maze - Download your free guide today!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

• Navigating the Med School Maze
• Successful Medical School Secondary Application Strategies
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Why I Chose B’s In Medical School

Read more of Joshua's journey through med school!Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us! 

I’m over 50% finished with my MD program in the Appalachian Mountains, done with (and passed!) the first part of my licensing boards, and am finally onto the greener grass of clinical medicine. So, what have I learned, and how have I changed in this process? Through my first year, my clinical research in sepsis taught me so much about the bigger picture of medicine; I began to fine-tune my bedside manner; I was finally able to see and understand the undeniable impact of socioeconomic status on health. The second year of medical school is notoriously the hardest, because while balancing an even more challenging course load, preparation for licensing boards begins simultaneously. Yes, I learned about disease processes, drugs, interventions, and all that, but I learned about my priorities in the process. I was even crazy enough to get married – to another 2nd year medical student! I’m going to share something incredibly personal that I’m hoping you can grow from – my grades, how I got them, and why I chose (and continue to choose) life over numbers.

During my first year, I began to study how I study, the outcomes, and the most effective ways for me, personally. After dozens of exams, countless hours banging my head against my whiteboard, and proverbially throwing mud at the wall for months on end, I made some pretty interesting discoveries about how I learn. Turns out, it takes me personally about an extra 15-20 hours per exam of additional, dedicated study time on top of my normal study habits to achieve a strong A. What did getting that A do for me? Were those hours worth it? Well, also turns out it just means I pounded into my head the additional minutiae to get the detailed questions, but those details didn’t impact my overall understanding of the material or the concepts. Hmm… I found myself at a fork in the road – I could achieve a higher GPA, class rank, and increase my chances of matching somewhere fancy, OR I could invest those hours into something else.

I made the conscious choice and effort to achieve B’s in the first 2 years of medical school, and I don’t have a single regret about it. Here’s why:

With those extra 15-20 hours per exam (there are a lot of exams), I invested in my relationship with my girlfriend, who became my fiancé, and is now my dear wife. Clearing up some hours meant I always had an extra hour per day to take our Great Dane, Wrigley, on a walk or to the dog park with my wife. Those walks meant we had more quality time together every single day. We started taking longer lunches and dinners together. We talked more. We grew more. We went on more dates! We even built strong friendships at the dog park because we made the conscious effort to put ourselves before the books. I actually watched tv shows and kept up with them with my wife, and we had something to look forward to on Monday nights and could laugh about what farmer Chris was going to do next week on The Bachelor.

With more time, I began songwriting again, and recording things for pleasure, which I haven’t done in years. I even performed one for our school where I wrote about the life of my anatomy group’s donor, Winston. I even started brewing more beer while crafting new recipes, and I invested some time to learn about the craft brewing business to see if opening a brewery one day is a feasible option. With more time, my best friend taught me how to paint, and I was able to give my wife a meaningful piece on our wedding day.

Making the conscious effort to focus on myself, the people around me, and investing in the things I care about instead of numbers is one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I noticed that when I did achieve an A, it came at the expense of my relationships with those I love as well my own ability to be introspective. Being introspective and decompressing with hobbies  and life outside of medicine is one of the most important pieces to handling and managing the immense pressure of medical education. Of course I’ve never been perfect in the process, and when I noticed myself turning sour to those around me, like a corked bottle of wine left too long without being enjoyed, it was because I had lost focus on my priorities. It’s a balancing act, and I’m thankful I have those who love me enough to help in this imperfect science.

With two years of medical education and a few weeks of clinical medicine under my belt, I’ve learned that medicine can be a selfish and consuming mistress, if you let her. I’ve learned it is incredibly easy to achieve at the expense of personal growth. However, if you choose day in and day out to love and invest in those around you instead of her, the payback is invaluable. I have also learned that your value can never be measured in numbers or letters, but instead in the depth of relationships you have with loved ones and the impact you make in your community. As a medical student, time is our most valuable asset – be wise with it. Invest it as you would your hard-earned money; buy things with it that will last the longest, and stretch your time-dollar as far as it will go with the things that matter most to you in life. I’m not top of my class. Not even close. But my relationship with my wife has never been better, and because I bought time to work on some humanities, I haven’t noticed any soured wine in quite some time.


Joshua A. Wienczkowski

MD Candidate, Quillen College of Medicine 2017

Get Accepted to Med School with Low Stats!  Download your guide today!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

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• Dear Diary…: Advice for Third-Year Medical Students 
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UCSF 2016 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

Click here for more school specific secondary essay tips!It is important to focus on your leadership roles and the diversity of your experiences and activities in this secondary application.  UCSF accepts students with highly competitive GPA’s and MCAT scores so it would be to your advantage to explain any decreases or irregularities in your academic records or test scores, if you have not already done so in your primary application.  Be sure to highlight the qualities, experiences, awards and scholarships that set you apart from other applicants.   

UCSF 2016 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

•  One 500-word essay with additional information

•  Two additional 500-word essays for students interested in applying to the Joint Medical Program, described below.

•  Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.

•  Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight all of an applicant’s strengths and research interests.

1. If you wish to update or expand upon your activities, you may provide additional information below. (500 word limit)

Use this essay as an opportunity to update the adcom on your current activities.  Focus on the diversity of your commitments—in leadership, volunteering, tutoring, mentoring, as well as your academic, cultural, musical, athletic and professional interests.  If you have long-term commitments to organizations, discuss your years of service and continued commitment.  What sets you apart as an applicant?  Strategically bring their attention on the strengths that you have not covered in the primary application.        

JMP Program Only

1. Please describe the basis for your interest in and your preparations for the MS with research thesis. Given the opportunity to pursue such a degree, what topics, questions or areas of research might you be interested in addressing? (500 word limit)

The Joint Medical Program is hosted by UC Berkeley School of Public Health and UCSF.  It is a five-year program that allows participants to earn a Master’s Degree in health and medical sciences (HMS) as well as a medical degree.  Students are expected to complete at least 20 units of coursework and to write a thesis in addition to their medical education requirements.  To see a list of recent research topics, please see the invitation to the sixth annual UC Berkeley—UCSF Joint Medical Program Research Symposium.

Be sure to discuss in detail any research experience that you have.  Explain the projects that you participated in and the outcomes of your contributions—publications, poster discussions, panels, or workshops.  What was the level of your responsibility in the lab?  How long did you work on each project?  What issues did you encounter in your research and how did you find solutions these problems either individually and/or collaboratively?  If any of the topics that you covered are health-related, how could you further develop your ideas into a research project?   

2. Please describe the basis for your interest and experience with small group, case-based problem oriented learning. (500 word limit)

You should focus on any experiences that you have working successfully in small groups in this essay response.  This could range from athletics to clinical experiences.  Describe the roles that you played within the teams you have participated on.  What were you able to accomplish as a team?  What did you as an individual contribute?  How would you benefit from a program that uses a case-based learning model? 

UCSF Application Timeline:

Check out the rest of our school specific secondary tips and deadlines

If you would like professional guidance with your UCSF application materials, please consider using Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the UCSF application materials.

Navigate the Med Maze - Download your free guide today!

Alicia Nimonkar is an advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Explore’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.

Related Resources:

• Applying to Medical School with Low Stats [Free Report]
• Getting Into Medical School: Advice from a Pro [Podcast]
Successful Medical School Secondary Application Strategies