VCU has a unique mission statement in that it focuses equally on the process of becoming an excellent care provider as it does on the content—the curriculum they offer and the expectations that they have for the students they graduate. It’s a well constructed and thought out statement similar to their curriculum, which they cover in systematic detail, here. Their website also has several videos that give you a sense of the landscape of their campus and the day-to-day life of a medical student. Even more videos about the school are available here! They have a lot of videos! Even more impressive, they offer career advising in the very first week of school and it continues throughout all four years of their program. The secondary application requires two essay responses.
Virginia Commonwealth University 2017-18 Secondary Application Essay Questions:
Essay 1. Imagine that you are a volunteer premed working in a free clinic that serves a large immigrant population. Your duties include taking the patients’ medical history. Today you are working with an elderly patient who does not speak English and the adult son is translating for his mother. You notice that he is answering many of the questions for her without translating. During the conversation, the son tells you that if his mother has cancer he does not want her to know because the news “will kill her”. He says that in his family he speaks for the elderly mother and does not want a translator. How will you approach this situation? (You may seek help to answer this question.) (2500 characters)
It is easy to get distracted from the facts in this essay prompt since so many details that are both relevant and irrelevant are included. Those who are able to identify the key issues and address them in their responses to this question will earn an interview. Students who go into detail about their previous experience as a volunteer or interpreter or who get side tracked by the suggestion of cancer have received rejections from this school.
The best place to start would be to research the laws and regulations in the state of Virginia for healthcare providers in a situation like this one. Is the son the legal representative for the mother? What are the rules and requirements to establish legal representation in healthcare? If not, who decides the best course of action?
Essay 2. Please briefly explain any lapses in your undergraduate education; include any in enrollment during your undergraduate education and/or any gaps between undergraduate education and applying to medical school. (example: poor grades, multiple withdraws, health reasons, etc.) (2500 characters)
This question is more straightforward. First, review your undergraduate transcript. (You should order an official copy for your own records, simply to make sure that everything is correct.) Are there any gaps in your undergraduate education? If so, make a list of them. Next, look for any low grades or withdrawals that will need to be explained. Are there any connections between these two categories? If so, explain. State the facts. No need to make excuses or add any drama.
Last, if you have taken time off after graduation before applying to medical school, use an updated copy of your resume/CV to make a list of these activities and write a paragraph detailing what you have been doing in this time. Organize it in the way that makes the most logical sense and that is the easiest to understand.
If you would like professional guidance with your Virginia Commonwealth University application materials, check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for your application materials.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted 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. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!