Vanderbilt University 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

Medical Team

This medical school places special emphasis on the relationships formed during medical school with classmates and faculty.  Students participate in small group learning activities through the four colleges.  In the first two years of medical school, students create their own project to self-direct their learning process with mentorship.  The school is seeking students who will contribute to the diversity of their class and share successful strategies in building communication skills and a solid foundation of scientific knowledge.  The secondary application requires three essay responses.

Vanderbilt University 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • One autobiographical essay, with a word limit of 1200, and two short essays with 500 word limits are required.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight an applicant’s strengths.

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

1. Autobiography: Write a brief autobiography. As completely and precisely as possible, give a picture of yourself, your family, and events you consider important to you. In doing so, identify the values that are of greatest importance to you. If you have completed your undergraduate education, please comment on what you have done or have been doing since graduation. (1200 word limit)

To structure your response to this essay question, I recommend creating a list of values that you want to emphasize.  Selecting only the top three values from your list, rank them in order of importance.  For each value, is there an example from your life, family interactions, or volunteer and clinical experiences that you can use to “show” rather than tell how you exemplify this value?  You can arrange the values in any order that makes the most sense to you in terms of creating clear transitions from one example to the next.  If you have graduated from college, use some of the life experiences you have gained to illustrate these values.  Or after you have provided examples for the values most important to you, you can provide a brief summary of your activities after college. 

2. Contribution: The learning environment of the medical school is enhanced by the inclusion of students with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences prior to medical school. What in your background or your experiences will uniquely contribute to this learning environment? (500 word limit)

Brainstorm a response by listing out what is unique about your background and experiences.  Rank these in order of significance to you.  Using only the most relevant, create an outline using examples from each item listed that will demonstrate how sharing this ability or experience with your classmates will positively impact your collaborations. 

3. Challenge: Please discuss a challenging situation that you faced in the past. Why was it challenging? How did you handle it? Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently? What did you learn? (500 word limit)

Select an example that has a positive outcome for all parties involved.  As a direct result of your efforts, how did you improve the situation?  The best examples will be professional in nature.  I do not recommend using a personal example for this response.  Using an example in which you gained new skills or learned a new approach to create a successful resolution will be important.    

VU SOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due November 1, 2012
Secondary Application *December 1, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted September 17, 2012 to February 1, 2013
Rolling Admissions October 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013
School Begins Mid July 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your Vanderbilt University 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 VU SOM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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 Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.




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Washington University (St. Louis) 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

Washington University (St. Louis)In the top ten ranking for research, WUSOM provides exciting opportunities for medical students to participate in research at the basic science or clinical levels.  They are looking for students with strong ties to their communities—with excellent communication skills, a dedication to service, and well-rounded interests.  The secondary application requests two optional shorts essays.

Washington University (St. Louis) 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Two optional short essays are requested.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight an applicant’s strengths.

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

1. (optional) Do you have unique experiences or obstacles that you have overcome that were not covered in your application about which you would like to inform our Admissions Committee? (maximum 3000 characters including spaces)

Given this institution’s dedication to community service, I recommend sharing the details of any long-term volunteer work that you have not discussed in your personal statement.  What was your role?  How did you help the community?  What was your connection to this group of people?  Staying true to the prompt, have you overcome any significant challenges in your life to be successful?  Learning a new language or finding resources to reach your goals can be good examples.  Think broadly of your life experiences—were there difficulties in your life that you have overcome which other people may see as obstacles?

2. If you have already completed your education, if your college or graduate education was interrupted, or if you do not plan to be a full-time student during the current year, describe in chronological order your activities during the time(s) when you were not enrolled as a full-time student. (maximum 1800 characters including spaces)

Using an updated copy of your resume or CV, be comprehensive in your response.  Capture the diversity of your activities and interests.  Include all work experiences or volunteer activities. Highlight achievements. Review a copy of your transcript to be sure that you have covered all significant gaps in your education.  If there were increases or decreases in your GPA before or after these breaks, explain.

WUSOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due December 1, 2012
Secondary Application *December 31, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted October 2012 to March 2013
Rolling Admissions November 2012 to April 15, 2013
School Begins Mid-August 2013

 

If you would like professional guidance with your Washington University 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 WUSOM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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 Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.

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Boston University 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

BUSMBUSM’s MD Program offers students the opportunity to work with patients beginning in their first year of medical school.  Students will receive their clinical training at the prestigious Boston Medical Center, which has the largest trauma center in the Northeast.  Students also have the option of pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health.  The secondary application consists of five optional essays.

Boston University 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Five optional short essays with varied word limits are requested.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight an applicant’s strengths.

Application Tip: Check out the BUSM Viewbook with admissions information:

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

1. If you did not go to college directly after high school, please explain: (1400 character limit, approximately 280 words)

Medical schools love non-traditional applicants who have life experience.  If this essay prompt applies to you, provide a brief explanation of how you spent your time before enrolling in college—detailing any awards or accomplishments you earned before entering higher education.  If you worked to help support your family, this is admirable and demonstrates that you took on significant responsibility at a young age.  Responding to this prompt will only help your application. 

2. If you are not expecting to go directly to medical school after completing your undergraduate work, please explain. (1400 character limit, approximately 280 words)

Be honest in this response.  If you needed to take a break before applying to medical school, write about how you used your time.  Discuss all volunteer work, extracurricular interests or clinical experience—any achievements earned.  If you needed to work to save up money to apply—state this in your response.  Explain where you worked and what your responsibilities were.   

3. If you have spent more than 4 years as an undergraduate, please explain below. (You may skip this question if you have graduated within 4 years.)

If applicable, create a list of all the reasons why you were not able to graduate in four years.  After ranking your list in order of importance, use this as your outline.  Having multiple interests or double majors will only help your application, as the reader will have the opportunity to learn more about your unique talents and interests. 

4. Please provide a narrative or timeline to describe any features of your educational history that you think may be of particular interest to us. For example, have you lived in another country or experienced a culture unlike your own, or worked in a field that contributed to your understanding of people unlike yourself? Or, have you experienced advanced training in any area, including the fields of art, music, or sports? This is an opportunity to describe learning experiences that may not be covered in other areas of this application. It is not necessary to write anything in this section. (2000 character limit, approximately 400 words)

Though this essay is also optional, I would strongly recommend responding to it.  Using an updated copy of your resume or CV, work backwards from the most current to oldest experiences.  What are your other interests, outside of medicine?  Have you lived or worked in another country?  Did you win any science or non-science awards or fairs in your early education?  Focus this response on educational experiences—talents or skills you developed through training or learning opportunities (formal education or self-taught).   

5. We have found that for most applicants, an extra essay written expressly for Boston University adds little to the information content of the portfolio. While we no longer require an essay, some applicants feel that additional information is necessary in order to provide us with a comprehensive understanding of their strengths as a candidate for a career in medicine. If you wish, use the space below to offer an essay or any other information, addressing any issue you feel is of importance. If you choose to use the space, please do not duplicate information provided elsewhere in this Supplemental Application or in material you have submitted to AMCAS.

For most applicants, no supplementary essay will be necessary and this space can be left blank.

In this response, you could focus on any clinical, research or science related experiences that you have not already covered in detail in your personal statement that would reveal your commitment to a career in medicine.  Again, this essay is also optional, but by responding to it you will be demonstrating your interest in the BUSM Program.  Using a copy of your resume/CV or a timeline of your life experiences could assist you in deciding what to write about in this response.  Be strategic in your selection—covering information that you have not yet discussed that will highlight your strengths as an applicant.  

BUSM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due    November 1, 2012
Secondary Application    *January 3, 2013 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)
Interviews Conducted    Early October 2012 to Mid-February 2013
Rolling Admissions    Early January 2013 to End of March 2013
Alternates Accepted    Early June 2013 to Mid-August 2013
School Begins    End of August 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your Boston University 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 BUSM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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 Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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UCSD 2013 School of Medicine Secondary Application Essay Tips

UCSD School of MedicineThe UCSD School of Medicine prefers applicants with extensive research experience.  If you have not described your research experience in your personal statement, include a description in the secondary application’s autobiographical essay.  They offer a PRIME Heq Program with training in treating medically underserved communities.  They also have a dual degree program that allows medical students to earn a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research.  You will have the opportunity to explain your interest in these programs through optional essays on the secondary application.

UCSD SOM 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • One autobiographical essay, with a character limit of 6,000, and a short essay, with a character limit of 400, are required.
  • Two additional essays are optional, one for applicants interested in applying to PRIME-HEq and one for the MAS Degree.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight an applicant’s strengths.

The following are required in the Secondary Application:

1. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable.

Please note: if you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are seeking the MD/PhD training at UCSD.

Note that the autobiographical sketch is limited to 6000 characters.

Before starting your outline for this response, read and review your AMCAS application essays.  If you have not already made a timeline of important events in your life, create one now.  Include when your interest in science first developed, your first exposure to medicine, research experience, and any other events that provide an explanation for how your interest in medicine developed.  Mark off the events from your timeline that you have already covered in your personal statement.  Create an outline based on the events you haven’t yet discussed.  Is there a common theme between the events or experiences?  How did you become interested in a career in medicine?  Why is medicine the ideal career field for you personally?  If you are applying to the MD/PhD program, discuss how this program will allow you to achieve your career goals.     

2. (OPTIONAL) ESSAY FOR APPLICANTS INTERESTED IN PRIME-HEq
PRIME – Heq – PRogram In Medical Education – Health Equities: The goals of PRIME – HEq are: To increase the number of clinicians, research scientists, and advocates addressing minority health and health disparities; to create a diverse community of scholars that develop, transmit, and apply new knowledge in minority health and health disparities; and to promote a multidisciplinary community/university partnership to eliminate health disparities. The program utilizes existing opportunities to allow enrollees to obtain a master’s degree emphasizing minority health and health disparities, tailored to student’s interest (MPH, MBA, MAS, MS).

Applicants indicating an interest in PRIME are required to write an additional essay detailing their qualifications and reasons for interest in the program.

Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 Characters)

The PRIME Health Equity Program offered at UCSD SOM provides students with the opportunity to earn a MD as well as a Master’s Degree in interdisciplinary fields.  The training students receive will prepare them to treat patients in medical underserved communities.  If you are from an educationally or socio-economically disadvantaged background or an ethnicity that is underrepresented in medicine, share more information about yourself.  By establishing a clear connection to the communities that you hope to work with in the future, you will be providing compelling evidence of your motivation to serve.  Describe your community service to the underserved, focusing on the length of your service.  What will the specific training this program offers enable you to accomplish in your career? 

3. (OPTIONAL) ESSAY FOR APPLICANTS INTERESTED IN MASTER’S OF ADVANCED STUDIES (MAS) IN CLINICAL RESEARCH
Applicants to the UCSD School of Medicine may apply to a program which combines the M.D. degree with a Master’s of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research. This program is appropriate for students who are interested in a career combining medical practice and oversight of clinical research. The Master’s degree can be completed in one year, and is typically pursued between the third and fourth year of medical school. Students accepted into this MD-Master’s program will be supported with a stipend and partial tuition support during the year of the Master’s degree.

Applicants indicating an interest in MAS Clinical Research are required to write an additional essay detailing their qualifications and reasons for interest in the program.

Please describe your interest in the MAS Clinical Research program. Topics to include are your previous experience with clinical and/or translational research, your role within the research group, and what you envision for a career that includes clinical and/or translational research. A letter of recommendation from the individual supervising your previous experience is helpful but not required. (4800 Characters)

After reviewing the website, explain your interest in their program.  Do you have experience in clinical research studies?  What did you contribute to the research?  How would this degree benefit your patients and improve your knowledge of medicine?

4. Enter a brief description of your future career goals (400 Characters)

Given the character limitations for this short essay, create a concise response.  First, make a list of your top ten career goals.  Number the goals in order of importance.  Using only the first three—explain why these goals are important to you and how they will impact your practice of medicine.

UCSD SOM Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due               November 1, 2012

Secondary Application                  Due one month after you receive the request

School Begins                             Last Week of August, 2013

If you would like professional guidance with your UCSD 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 UCSD SOM application materials.

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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 Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.



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Johns Hopkins 2013 Medical School Secondary Application Essay Tips

John Hopkins Medical SchoolRanked at the top for research, Johns Hopkins Medical School provides a medical education with an emphasis on integrating scientific innovation in patient care.  The school’s mission statement shares a comprehensive and long term perspective on medical education, touching on:  The Science and Practice of Medicine, Clinical Competence, The Social Context of Medicine, Communication, Professionalism and Lifelong Learning.  Given these tenets, describe how your background and experience has prepared you to excel in these areas as you write your secondary essays.

Johns Hopkins 2013 Secondary Application Essay Questions:

  • Eight short essays are requested—four are required and the other half are required only if the situation described applies to the applicant.
  • Applicants should use single line spacing and 12 point size font.
  • Responses should be constructed strategically to highlight an applicant’s strengths.

The following are required in the Secondary Application

1. If you have already received your bachelor’s degree, please describe what you have been doing since graduation, and your plans for the upcoming year. (This space is limited to 700 characters.)

Using an updated copy of your CV or resume, make a list of your recent activities and label them according to the six tenets of the school’s mission statement, listed and linked above.  You can arrange the list chronologically or by the label you assigned each one.  Be sure to clarify how each experience has prepared you to succeed at their institution. 

2. If you interrupted your college education for a semester or longer, please describe what you did during that time. (This space is limited to 700 characters.)

If this essay question applies to you, review an unofficial or official copy of your college transcript.  What did you do during the time away from school?  How did the break(s) impact your academic record?  Did your grades increase or decrease before or after your return?  Adcoms will be scrutinizing how you spent the time and how it ultimately affected your grades.  Provide a concise description that details the information they are looking for, along with an explanation, if there was a decrease in your GPA before or after the break.   

3. List any academic honors or awards you have received since entering college.  (This space is limited to 600 characters.)

Using a copy of your submitted AMCAS application and an updated copy of your CV or resume, create a list of all scholarships and awards that you received during your undergraduate education.  Check both documents to make sure that you include all honors awarded to you.

4. Briefly describe your single, most rewarding experience. Feel free to refer to an experience previously described in your AMCAS application.  (This space is limited to 900 characters.)

While the essay prompt allows you to use an experience shared in your AMCAS application, I recommend selecting a new anecdote for this essay response.  Make a list of your top five or ten “most rewarding experiences.”  Next to each item, write one or two reasons why you would consider it the most rewarding.  Using the tenets of the school’s mission statement, which of these experiences meets the highest number of these areas?  Structure your response according to how your own expectations—sense of fulfillment—matches that of the school’s mission.

5. Are there any areas of medicine that are of particular interest to you? If so, please comment.  (This space is limited to 1100 characters.)

To demonstrate the realistic knowledge you have gained of the medical field through your clinical experience and volunteer work, I recommend focusing this response on the areas of medicine that you have developed an interest in based on your personal experience.  A broad response that highlights how long term and extensive your exposure is to the various fields of medicine would be appropriate.

6. Briefly describe a situation where you had to overcome adversity; include lessons learned and how you think it will affect your career as a future physician.  (This space is limited to 900 characters.)

Using a professional experience and how you directly changed or improved on a process or system to benefit the community you worked with would serve as an excellent response.  What was the situation?  How did you learn from it and improve the outcome?  How will this knowledge serve you in your patient interactions or level of engagement with your patient community?

7. If applicable, describe a situation where you were not in the majority. What did you learn from this experience?  (This space is limited to 1100 characters.)

Using a variety of examples, demonstrate your success in working with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.  Examples could include travel to countries in which you do not speak the language, participation in cultural or religious activities that are different from your own, and engagement with communities of different ethnicities or cultural backgrounds from your own.    

8. If applying to the dual MD/MBA program, please describe your reasons for wishing to obtain this degree.  (This space is limited to 1100 characters.)

To determine your interest in the program, review their website.  How will the combination of these two degrees enable you to meet your life goals?  Why not apply only for an MD?  How will an MBA inform or improve your influence on the health of a community?        

Johns Hopkins Medical School Application Timeline:

AMCAS Application Due                October 15, 2012

Secondary Application                   *December 1, 2012 (Strong recommendation: Submit within two weeks after receipt.)

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

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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 Accepted.com’s services to see how Alicia can help you achieve your professional dreams in healthcare.


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