Congrats!! You have just submitted your primary medical school application! Now what? Take a well-deserved break for a few days then start pre-writing those secondaries. You can google search “medical school secondary” and the school(s) you’re applying to find these prompts. Secondaries are yet another component of the medical school application that allows you to shine. Your goal is to leave the admissions committee with a strong desire to meet you in an interview. Here are five tips you should follow to help you get that interview!
#1: DO NOT repeat information from your primary application.
This is extremely important because your secondary is meant to give the admissions committee more information about you. It would be a waste of an application to repeat information you already provided. If you’re thinking, “Well, I already provided everything I have ever done on my primary application so I have to repeat information…” That is acceptable, BUT you must provide that information through a new lens or angle.
For instance, if you talked about how volunteering with the homeless taught you the needs in your community, then in your secondary, you can talk about other skills or insight you learned (i.e. teamwork, working with diverse people, leadership).
#2: Use this space to delve deeper into your experiences.
As mentioned, you do not want to repeat information in your secondary. However, if you’re having trouble finding a new angle (described above) for an experience, then you can delve deeper into it. Think of it as your meaningful experiences. Give the reader more context of what you did and what you learned from your experience.
For instance, if you say you were part of a sports team that taught you leadership and teamwork skills. Now, go into specific examples that show how you gained those skills. It also helps if you choose experiences that you did not write the most meaningful paragraphs about. This will also help diversify your application.
#3: Always develop a connection to medicine
Many students forget to connect their experiences back to how this will make them a good physician. Think of applying to medical school as an job opportunity. Schools and employers want to see how you’re fit for the position and what you’ve done that make you a strong candidate. You should demonstrate your clinical, research, volunteer experiences in a way that is pertinent to becoming a good medical student or physician.
#4: Research the school before writing
Many secondary prompts will ask for your fit for the school or desire to attend their school. The best way to develop a strong answer to these questions requires you to have some background knowledge of the school. Take a look at the medical school’s website. Scroll through their About Us, Our Mission/Values, Our Curriculum, Student Life, etc. pages to see the unique offerings of that medical school.
Before you start writing, think carefully about how your theme is associated with the school’s missions or purpose. For example, is the school very committed to serving underserved populations? Do you have a demonstrated interest in this based on your extensive volunteer experience? What about research? Public Health? Medical Education? This part takes a lot of work, but your medical school application will stand out from others if you can form these connections for the admissions committee.
#5: Develop a strong diversity statement
A majority of your secondaries will ask you about what you can bring to their school. How can your unique experience benefit others including your future classmates and patients? What do you bring to the table? Many of us have a hard time figuring out what makes us “unique”, but here are some things you can do that may help- Ask a friend or family member about what makes you unique. Think about your hobbies, upbringing, or culture. Are you a first-generation future doctor? If so, what was your experience navigating the road to medicine, and how does that impact you as a future physician? I promise you, we all have something to offer.
Make sure that your diversity statement is well-written as it is one way you can really stand out from the other applicants.
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