“At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, we are dramatically advancing the art and science of medical care through an atmosphere of intense collaborative learning, social concern, and scholarly inquiry.”
Icahn is known for its progressive stance towards education. They have an early admission program for sophomores in college, called the FlexMed Program, which allows students to pursue their undergraduate studies without any required pre-med coursework or even taking the MCAT. Students accepted into FlexMed must maintain a gpa of 3.5 and complete their Bachelor’s degree, in addition to other requirements. “FlexMed is all about flexibility in your education and the opportunity to pursue what you love to learn. It allows talented students with lots of initiative to ‘flex’ their intellectual, creative, humanistic, and scientific muscles during college.”—David Muller, MD, FACP, Dean for Medical Education, Professor and Marietta and Charles C. Morchand Chair in Medical Education.
Applicants to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are encouraged to highlight their achievements in many areas, including scholarship, advocacy, personal maturity, integrity, intellectual creativity, leadership, innovation and motivation for medicine. Students are encouraged to take pre-med coursework in statistics and biochemistry and it is “strongly suggested” that they demonstrate fluency in a second modern language, preferably Spanish or Mandarin. Icahn offers MD/PhD and MPH programs, but also has a strong focus on primary care.
For the first two years of medical school at Icahn, students participate in the Longitudinal Clinical Experience, where they are introduced to the primary provider’s clinical reasoning and patient-centered approach. The campus is located on the border between the Upper East Side of Manhattan and East Harlem, a location which exposes students to disenfranchised patient populations with chronic health issues. Students are guaranteed housing in Aron Hall, located across the street from the school and close to Central Park. Location, flexibility, and patient population are often cited as reasons why students choose Icahn.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 2017-18 Secondary Essay Questions:
1. If you are currently not a full-time student, please briefly describe the activities you are participating in this academic year. (100 words)
This can be either a brief paragraph or a bullet point list. Focus on 4-5 main activities, and describe your role and the hours you spend on each activity per week. DO NOT be tempted to answer this question if you are a full-time student. Using this space inappropriately will at best, annoy the reader, and at worst, suggest that you don’t follow rules.
2. Please tell us about a passion (professional or personal) you have had thus far in your life. (250 words)
This essay can be about anything, but be sure you support it with evidence of your commitment. Don’t say that you are passionate about an activity you have not yet tried or just started last week. Your topic can either be related to medicine (an academic, clinical or volunteer activity) or unrelated, yet meaningful to you. If you are uncertain about where to start, make a list of your personal interests. This list might include music, art, sports, teaching, event organizing, research, or travel. Next to each of these, write down a few ways you have explored your interest in depth. Now decide which activity is (a) supported by your actions and (b) shows a side of you that will you will need as a physician, such as leadership, creativity, or perseverance. You don’t have to include everything you know about a topic to make it interesting. Just share why you care about it. If you are invited to interview, you might be asked to talk more about it, so save something for that conversation!
3. Please tell us about a situation in which working collaboratively with others was challenging. (250 words)
This is a teamwork essay and a challenge essay all rolled into one. Applicants often misread this question and list a series of teams they were on, instead of going into depth on one challenge. To avoid this mistake, write down 4-5 team situations when you had to work with others to meet a common goal. These might include a group project for a class, a research team, a leadership role for an organization or club, a sports team, and a volunteer group. Do not include teams that you mostly witnessed, such as shadowing a team of doctors (your passive role won’t showcase your teamwork). Next to each situation, think of a challenge that arose and then describe the steps you took to resolve it. Did you use your communicating ability, listening skills, empathy, problem solving, or flexibility? Once you have your list, pick the one situation that most emphasizes your personal strengths. Be careful not to take credit for everything. Teamwork is about whether you can play in the sandbox with others, so show your awareness that it takes more than one to build a great sandcastle. Discuss your appreciation for other people on your team and how you recognized their strengths and contributions.
4. Optional: If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity or a commitment to a particular community, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Aspects might include, but are not limited to significant challenges in or circumstances associated with access to education, living with a disability, socioeconomic factors, immigration status, or identification with a culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine. Completing this section is optional.
This question allows you to introduce the admissions readers to an important part of your life not discussed elsewhere. It can be about something in your personal background, identity, or a significant commitment that you made. Icahn is looking for at least an active role, if not a leadership one. While you have wide latitude in terms of topic, this question is guiding you to focus on how you overcame a significant challenge, and how that experience affected your decision to pursue medicine. It is important to put these two parts together, rather than simply talk about the hurdle you faced. You can also emphasize how you learned from your experience and will be a better physician as a result. Make sure your essay demonstrates a “cup half full” attitude to life’s challenges. Ask someone to go through your essay looking for signs of a negative slant, then work to give it a more positive interpretation.
If you would like professional guidance with your Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai application materials, check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for Icahn SOM’s application materials.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Suzi Schweikert is a former UCSD School of Medicine adcom member who has mentored students in healthcare programs for over 20 years. She has a BA in English Lit from UCLA, an MD from UCSD, and an MPH from SDSU. Want Suzi to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!