“The mission of Yale School of Medicine is to educate and inspire scholars and future leaders who will advance the practice of medicine and the biomedical sciences.”
As a top ten research institution, Yale is not simply interested in training students to practice good medicine. They are searching for physician-scientists who will take medical knowledge to the next level. Yale has countless opportunities to do research and they make it available early on. The first two years of the Yale curriculum are flexible and self-directed, allowing students to follow their own interests and complete a required research thesis by the end of four years. They also have an optional 5th year, which is taken between years 3 and 4, and can be used to complete a research project.
A full 98% of Yale first year medical students report premedical research/lab experiences, so you might wonder if this is a requirement. However, the Yale SOM website states that they also are looking for evidence of leadership, maturity, integrity, and dedication to service. To make it even more challenging, one of the personal qualities they seek in applicants is “the ability to inspire and maintain confidence.” The message is, if you have significant research experience, go ahead and emphasize it, but make sure your essay is not about the details of your research, but rather about YOU and what you learned by doing it.
If you are applying to Yale’s MD/PhD program, you probably already know that it is one of the largest in the country (they accept 20 per year). A unique feature of the program is that students do 6 months of clinical rotations at the end of their second year, to solidify their clinical knowledge before undertaking PhD work. This can theoretically make your research more clinically based, and increase your potential to solve real world medical problems. They also have a program called Start@Yale, which allows MD/PhD students to take an early 8-week research rotation in the first year, in addition to two 6-week research rotations in the summer between the first and second years. With all this back and forth between clinical and research education, they are helping students connect the dots between medicine and science, and furthering their overall mission.
Here are some suggestions for the Yale secondary prompts:
1. Please use this space to write an essay in which you discuss your interest in Yale School of Medicine. (Please limit your response to 500 words.)
On their website, they state, “The Yale School of Medicine does not ”screen” AMCAS applications. All applicants will be invited to submit an on-line Yale Secondary Application.”
In other words, applicants need to screen themselves. Are you a good fit for Yale? If your answer is yes, how do you let them know in this one crucial essay? Many applicants talk about Yale’s collaborative and non-competitive environment (there are no grades in the first 2 pre-clinical years). Others write about Yale’s flexibility in coursework, or the 5th year option. In the long run, what you choose to write about may not be as important as how you write it. Think about your past experiences, then find a new insight. Make it clear that you have the desire and ability to create change and push boundaries, whether in science, policy, or life. Find something that sets you apart, and tell your story as clearly and convincingly as a scientist writing the results of ground-breaking research. Remember, they want students with leadership, maturity, integrity, and dedication to service, and they can tell if you fabricate or exaggerate your accomplishments. Be honest and be yourself.
2. This section is optional. It should be used to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee any important information (personal, academic, or professional) not discussed in other sections of your Yale Secondary Application. (500 words or less)
The optional essay is always a dilemma. Many applicants are tempted to recycle a themed essay from a previous school (e.g. a diversity essay). This is relatively easy and might work, if it is written brilliantly and shows your independent nature and leadership qualities. However, many secondary essays need to be reformatted to fit, which changes the flow, and ends up appearing awkward and half-hearted. I suggest starting from scratch. This is Yale, after all, and you DO want to go here, right? If your answer is yes, then put in the effort to write a brand-new essay. Your previous essays can guide you, but try not to quote from them. Your writing will be strongest when it is fresh and energized by your drive to be the physician-scientist that Yale is looking for. It may take a few drafts to find your unique slant, but it will be worth it.
If you would like professional guidance with your Yale School of Medicine application materials, check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for YSOM’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!
• The Ultimate Guide to Secondary Essay Questions from Top Med Schools, a free guide
• 7 Signs An Experience Belongs In Your Application, a podcast episode
• The OPTIONAL Essay in Medical School Secondary Applications