Duke University’s Medical School is ranked 12th by U.S. News for research and 26th for primary care, and is known for its focus on interdisciplinary learning. It aims to use medical research to solve global problems. Duke emphasizes diversity, inclusion, and attention to community health problems. Consequently it comes as no surprise that Duke’s secondary application questions ask you to consider your role as a physician in global and local communities.
Duke University School of Medicine’s 2020-2021 secondary application tips
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #1
Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words)
As schools are taking more factors into consideration when it comes to diversity, they are also asking applicants to put more thought into the relationship between diversity (of patients and colleagues) and their own identity. This is one such question. You should feel free to talk about aspects of your identity that might not be obvious from your application. I suggest doing so through the use of examples in order to illustrate how those parts of your personality inform your behavior towards others. You should also explain how these qualities or experiences will impact how you treat and interact with others.
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #2 (Optional)
In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words)
This question is asking you to talk about how your own background – race, ethnicity, class, and hometown – have impacted your life. You should talk about how any of these things affected your path to medical school and why that is important in terms of your development. Be sure not to repeat your response from Question 1.
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #3
Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words)
For this prompt, make a list of times you have either helped someone express their needs or obtain a needed service or acknowledgment. That “someone” should be a person who is different from you as you have identified yourself above.
The prompt asks for an individual example, but you can also think about an individual you have worked with who represents a broader group of people. This question is asking you to think about your role as a physician-advocate, someone who will represent their patient in the quest to obtain fair and adequate healthcare. The question also addresses Duke’s emphasis on the physician as a member of the community with a duty to improve care for all.
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #4
Success can arise from failure. What have you gained from your failed experiences and how does this translate in your current way of thinking?(400 words)
Here, the adcom wants to know how you respond to failure. The failure can be personal or professional (avoid anything immoral or cruel, of course). When you are responding to this kind of prompt, don’t shy away from admitting you have failed or made mistakes, and never write that you haven’t failed.
The most important part of the essay is what you learned. Here, avoid trite lessons, like “I learned how to be persistent,” and instead, really think about the incident in terms of emotional and intellectual growth. These types of questions are trying to get at your resilience and maturity as a person.
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #5
What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (400 words)
This prompt requires that you address an experience where things did not go as planned or an example where you learned or gained some insight from another person whom you may have underestimated. You should give an example honestly while avoiding any response that implies you did something illegal or immoral. Your answer should emphasize what you did after this experience: How did you respond? What lesson did you learn? What would you or did you do differently next time?
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #6
Leadership, teamwork, and communication operate synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and member of a team? What attributes do you possess as a leader and how will you apply them every day? (400 words)
This is a very broad question about critical skills in medicine. Doctors are leaders, but they are also part of a medical team. Communications both with patients, peers, and other members of the healthcare professions is mandatory.
Think about a time that you were on a team or in a leadership role or perhaps on a team when you took a leadership role for part of the project. Discuss which skills and attributes contributed to your effectiveness as a leader and/or a team member. What worked for you when you were in a leadership role? What worked when you were in the team member role? How will you use both sets of skill in your career as a physician?
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #7
Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience either enhances or perfects critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. Why is research or critical thinking important to your future career? (400 words)
To answer this question, you should make a list of the ways in which you use critical thinking. Then, think of a specific application, taking care not to repeat the same examples from other essays. You should consider your academic, professional, volunteer, and personal life. Research frequently provides opportunity for critical thinking and can be an excellent option for this essay and for Duke. Explain how you used critical thinking in your specific example. To conclude the essay, you should discuss how you will use it in the future and why it is vital in medicine.
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #8
Describe your understanding of race and its relationship to inequities in health and health care? (400 words)
Minority populations are at risk for poor health care outcomes related to COVID-19, but not only in relation to COVID-19. Why is this so? Explain what you know about race as it affects health care disparities. It does. So be sure to briefly explain the reality of this truth. From here, what does this disparity mean regarding a doctor’s approach to patient care? When is race a critical factor in patient care? How should physicians respond to this situation?
Duke University School of Medicine secondary application essay #9
How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words)
Almost all medical schools require a response from applicants to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This prompt, like others, asks how you were affected. However, the emphasis in this prompt, and the majority of one’s thought addressing it, should be spent on the answer to the second question. Duke University SOM is asking you what this unexpected shift in preparing to be a doctor has done to you, briefly. Moreso, it is asking how this unexpected shift in preparing to be a doctor has revised your vision of “doctoring” in the future. This surely engages some insight and perspective about public health, the common good, the disparity of risk among less advantaged populations, cultures and demographics. It may also be an opportunity for you to reveal adaptability, initiative, grit, and/or resilience.
Applying to Duke? Here are some stats:
Duke University School of Medicine average MCAT score: 519
Duke University School of Medicine average GPA: 3.87
Duke University School of Medicine acceptance rate: 3.6%
U.S. News ranks Duke #3 for research and #51 for primary care.
If you would like professional guidance with your Duke University School of Medicine application materials, check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for Duke’s application materials.
Duke University School of Medicine 2021 – 2022 application timeline
|AMCAS deadline||October 15|
|Secondary application deadline||November 15|
|Interview invitations are sent out||Late August until early January|
|Duke makes final acceptance decisions||Mid-Late February|
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***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Dr. Mary Mahoney, Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience as an advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. She is a tenured English Professor with an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in Literature and Writing from the University of Houston. For the last twenty years, Mary has served as a grad school advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. Want Mary to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- Med School Secondary Essay Handbook: School-Specific Secondary Application Essay Tips
- All About Duke Medical School’s Unique Curriculum and How to Get In, a podcast interview with Dr. Linton Yee, Assoc. Dean for Admissions
- Successful Medical School Secondary Application Strategies