July 2018

Welcome to the dog days of summer. This issue includes a great list of summer reading material for aspiring physicians brought to you by the AAMC. Newport also maintains a comprehensive list of books for premeds so please check them both out. 

This issue will also talk about secondary essay topics and resources that can help you prepare for a summer of writing 25+ secondary essays!

Summer Reading

For the third year in a row, the AAMC has compiled a list of summer reading material for aspiring physicians. Newport also maintains a comprehensive list of books for premeds so check them both out.  Reading is a FANTASTIC way to improve the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT. Reading can also get you in the mood and mindset for writing your own secondary essays. So grab a hammock, a glass of iced tea and select a book or two from the list. 

2019 Application

For those of you who already submitted your application for the 2019 application cycle, you can now start pre-writing your secondary essays. Many schools do not change their essay topics from year to year so the questions can easily be found. Many have similar themes or topics so you can write a basic answer then tailor for each school. 

1) Start your research on each medical school you applied to and create a spreadsheet with your findings.

  • Why do you want to go to X medical school?
  • Take notes on their mission statement and read thoroughly their website for clues as to what type of student they are looking for.
  • Point to places in your application where their mission and your experiences intersect.
  • Are they looking for a student with a commitment to rural medicine, for example? If this is NOT your passion and you have not demonstrated this commitment in your clinical experience/research/volunteer experiences, perhaps you would not be a good fit for this particular medical school. 
  • Research the curriculum and see if this supports your learning style. 
  • Can you do a dual degree (MPH or MBA) or continue your research?

2) Examples of Secondary Essay Questions:

  • What do you want to attend X medical school.
  • What qualities will you bring to the practice of medicine?
  • What role has research played in your preparation for medicine?
  • Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self­ description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated.
  • What do you consider to be the role of the physician in the community? 
  • Describe a stressful situation that you have experienced. Please detail your reaction, how you managed the situation, and what you learned that would help you handle a similar circumstance in the future.
  • Tell us something you are passionate about and why.
  • The OSU COM Admissions vision statement states that the admissions committee will assemble a class that displays “diversity in background and thought.” Why is “diversity in background and thought” a desirable characteristic for a medical school’s student body?
  • Is there anything that we have not specifically asked that you would like for us to know and how you may uniquely contribute to Stanford Medicine? OPTIONAL (NOTE: Although it states that this essay is optional, it is in your best interest to write an answer. ) 
  • Resources and Links:

3) Details

  • Turn essays around within 2-3 weeks. 
  • Typos and errors can happen in the rush to complete secondary essays so take care and have a friend/consultant/teacher proof them. Think how long you spent writing just your primary AMCAS essay. Now you will need to write 1-4 more essays per school in the span of 2-4 weeks. 
  • Don't be too general. Add specifics to your essays that point to your suitability for that school. Highlight certain programs they offer that fit your learning style or career path. The goal is to get an interview!
  • Avoid the temptation to repeat EXACTLY what was already written in your AMCAS/AACOMAS. Find a new and innovative way to answer the question using the same experiences. Perhaps tell a different story from that same clinical experience. Link two different experiences for emphasis.  Bring new insights or reflections. 
  • If after conducting a more thorough review of a school, you find that you are NOT a good match for it, don't feel the need to complete the secondary application. Throwing away another $100 and 6 hrs. of your time is not worth it. On the other side, if you find a new school that IS a great fit for you, you can always add schools to your AMCAS at a later date (providing it's not too late). Since your application is already verified, you will get a secondary application right away. 

4) Letters of Recommendation

  • As part of your secondary application, you will need to send letters of recommendation. Make sure they are ready to go. Review the AAMC link on how to submit letters of recommendation.

Summary overview of 2017 Application class by the numbers. 

Please review the above article summarizing the 2017 application cycle. It will give you some perspective on who was admitted. The 2018 statistics are not available yet since we are technically still in the 2018 application cycle. Noteworthy/interesting facts: 

  • 3.5 was the average GPA of applicants, but 3.7 was the average GPA of matriculated students. 
  • 30% of accepted students spoke another language fluently.
  • 508.9 was the average MCAT of matriculated students.
  • 85% of matriculated students had research/lab experience.

Take aways.....get your GPA up; even if you can't speak another language fluently, keep studying and using another language; get some research experience either in a science setting or in another discipline. Medical schools value research in some field but remember it does not have to be in the sciences. History research can be JUST AS VALUABLE as bench research in a lab. 

Good luck!