The Medical School Secondary Application

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The Medical School Secondary Application

Medical school secondary applications give medical school applicants the opportunity to give an explanation for their choices in pursuing medicine. The secondary applications also allow medical school admissions committees to determine an applicant’s residency status.


This is very common for public medical schools and other schools that give preference to in-state applicants. Many secondary applications mandate that the applicant submit a professional photograph of themselves, approximately 2″ by 2″ in size. Lastly, secondary applications generally include an essay section with a variety of question types. Common secondary application essay questions include ethical problems and a “why us” question. There are more listed below.

Secondary Application Essay Questions

  • Please describe an ethical dilemma in which you were involved and how you resolved it. What did you learn from this?
  • Is there anything you would like to explain to the Admissions Committee about your application that would help them better understand your circumstances?
  • The recruitment of a diverse student body is a major goal of Some University School of Medicine’s Admissions Committee. Please tell us what aspects of your life, experiences, and education to date would contribute to the achievement of this goal. Such facets might include your early education, socioeconomic status, culture, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and life or work experiences.
  • Please describe the geographical setting in which you think you would most like to practice following medical training.
  • The mission of the *BLANK* School of Medicine is to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of the [United States / Specific State / Region]. Please describe how you will contribute to this mission.
  • Type a statement setting forth the key motivational factors in your decision to apply to *BLANK* School of Medicine and any information about yourself you feel would be of interest to the admissions committee in the consideration of your application.
  • Have you ever experienced any uneven performance in grades and academic achievement? If so, please explain.
  • If you are currently not a full time student, please list and describe your current activities.
  • Describe the role you play in your immediate family.
  • Describe your community and socioeconomic environment.
  • List the most significant community, public service, and leadership activities you have been involved in over the last six years.
  • Describe how your experience, your community, and family background impact your understanding of the underserved communities.
  • Other than healthcare access, what are some of the most important health care issues confronting underserved communities? How would you address them?
  • Please describe how your experiences and personal attributes contribute to the mission of *BLANK* School of Medicine.
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic or parking violation? If the answer is yes, please explain.
  • Please prove any additional information which will give the Admissions Committee greater insight into you as an applicant.
  • How did you hear about our program.
  • Can you tell me something about yourself (quality or something you have done) that makes you the most proud?
  •  Health care involves working with people from diverse social, cultural, and religious backgrounds. What in your life experiences or philosophy will help you work effectively with others whose life experiences have been very different than your own?
  • Tell us of a challenging event or a difficult obstacle in your life and how you overcame it.
  •  Have you ever done anything that you have really regretted and what do you wish you would have done instead?
  • Summarize your activities during the [insert year] academic year. Describe how your activities are preparing you for a medical career.
  • What are your aspirations for your medical practice? Fast-forward to 15 years in the future: where do you imagine yourself?
  •  Describe a valuable experience in your personal development. This might be a decision you have made, an achievement of which you are particularly proud of, or a person who has influenced your life.
  • Provide in detail an experience of working with individual(s) from diverse background(s). What was the experience? How did it have an impact on you?
  • Describe how you have dealt with a personal or academic challenge. Focus on what you learned about yourself and how it will help you during the challenges you might face in medical school.
  • Your patient has a rare disease and would be a great candidate for an experimental new treatment. You are the principal investigator for the research project and you and your Chair would like to pursue this experiment with the patient. The parents of your patient are adamant against the treatment. How would you handle this situation?
  • If you will not be enrolled as a full-time student during the current academic year, please explain what you will be doing prior to your planned matriculation into medical school? If you are a re-applicant, please tell us how your application has improved since the last time you applied.
  • Please use this space to bring the information in your AMCAS application up-to-date. Please indicate additional grades earned, alterations in your proposed coursework or graduation date, address changes, additions to your list of activities, and anything else you feel we should know.
  • Describe personal attributes you possess or life experiences you have had that will enable you to better understand patients with a culture different from your own. Please include your self-reflection on how this experience has changed insights, beliefs, and/or values.
  • Identify research in which you have been involved.
  • Identify your healthcare-related experience(s).
  • Please give details about any interruption or time away from your education, which includes the time since graduation. Detail your activities for each year away from school.
  • While shadowing a physician, what did the experience do to solidify your desire/ambition to become an osteopathic physician?
  • Why should the admissions committee accept you into this year’s class?
  • What unique characteristics, abilities, or skill will you bring to the college and to the Osteopathic profession?
  • Why do you want to become an Osteopathic physician?
  • Were you employed during the regular school year (excluding summers) while in undergraduate school?
  • Describe a personal experience or ethical challenge you have faced that has influenced the development of your character. How has this experience helped you to develop specific skills and/or abilities that are essential to practicing osteopathic medicine?
  • What experiences and/or relationships have motivated you toward a career in osteopathic medicine?
  • In your own words, explain the concept of osteopathic medicine as you understand it.

Secondary Application Tips for Success

  1. DO NOT copy and paste your personal statement. Many secondary essays include prompts. More than likely, the person reviewing your secondary essay has already seen the information you put in your personal statement. The secondary should add additional information about yourself that allows the admissions committee to get a better idea of your motivation and desire to become a physician.
  2. ALWAYS proofread your secondary materials, ensuring correct spelling and grammar. Once you’ve edited it to your perfection, have someone else read it to be sure. If possible, have a professor give it a final review.
  3. Be sure to use a PROFESSIONAL photograph of yourself, in business attire, when appropriate. Do not send the admissions committee a “selfie” you took in front of the mirror. If you are financially able, make an appointment with a local professional photographer in your area. Let them know why you need a photo. For those on a tighter budget, you can get passport-style photos from many places, such as Wallgreens for less than $20.
  4. DO NOT lie!
  5. Submit secondary application materials as quickly as possible, adhering to all deadlines.
  6. Take your time.
  7. Be positive that you will get an medical school interview invite. Essentially, write your essay with the idea in mind that you will eventually meet the reader. Imagine how they will react or what questions they might ask you about your personal statement or application. Use these ideas to guide your content and effectively engage the reader.

A Short Video on the “Ethical Decision” Secondary Application Essay.

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