Secondary Applications For Medical School
It is critical that you submit all secondaries as soon as you can (regardless of cost, perceived difficulty or deadline) if you want to keep a competitive edge because your application is only as early as the LAST piece of information to arrive. Ideally, this would mean a 24-hour turn around (not often possible) but should not take longer than a week (two at the outside). That said, don't sacrifice quality for speed!
- Since a majority of schools you will be applying to will have automatic secondaries that arrive very quickly after you submit your primary application, you should budget both time and money for the process. (Please see the current MSAR on-line or the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book for secondary fees.) The bottom line is that you should only apply to schools for which you would complete the secondary if you receive one.
- If you change your mind about completing an application to any school, be sure to send a polite letter or email to these schools saying that you would like to withdraw from the current application process (i.e. don't burn any bridges!). This will also help keep the application process moving for all applicants.
- Some schools request a small photograph, and you should comply if possible because these photos will be used for identification purposes, and to help remember you after an interview. A passport-type photo is recommended (small, face only) and they can often be transmitted electronically.
- Never copy and paste any answers from your primary application! For example, if you are asked a question similar to something you have already addressed in your personal statement, you can discuss the same experience but it should be presented in a different way.
Some Sample Secondary Questions
The following questions are intended to give you an idea of the type of questions you might be asked and not meant to represent current secondary questions, which vary between schools and often change from year to year.
- What are the top three traits you are hoping to find in your fellow medical school classmates and why?
- Briefly describe a work or educational situation in which you were a member of a small group and the ways in which you learned from and taught others. What were the positive and negative aspects of this teaching and learning experience for you?
- The College of Human Medicine graduation oath states, "I do solemnly swear....that my ultimate responsibility is to the people I serve, that it will be a privilege to maintain their health, treat their diseases, and help them realize their fullest potential in life." How do you imagine yourself meeting these goals in the future?
- Setting a goal to be a physician is a very serious decision. What process did you follow in making this decision? How have your life experiences tested and strengthened this goal?
- Please use the following pages to submit an autobiographical sketch. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, early adult years, and future career goals in medicine. (Do not be tempted to use your personal statement for this question, even if such an option is offered to you. Be creative and use this wonderful opportunity to tell Admissions Committees even more about yourself!)
- If you have identified yourself as belonging to an underrepresented ethnic and social group and/or as a disadvantaged applicant, please provide a brief statement concerning the nature of this group membership (or status) and its impact on your accomplishments to date and your anticipated future in medicine. You may wish to comment on economic, educational, social, cultural or other factors which you feel have affected you.
- The practice of medicine often involves working with patients of varying backgrounds and from diverse communities. What are your experiences and thoughts about diversity and how you would apply them in the practice of medicine?
- The practice of clinical or investigative medicine demands a strong commitment to self-initiated creative activity. It is the expectation for the faculty of the School of Medicine that successful candidates for admission will have demonstrated commitment of this kind. In the space below, please discuss how you feel you have met this expectation.
- Please provide a statement of your possible choice(s) of medical specialty. What factors have influenced you in your choice? It is recognized that many applicants are far from choosing an area of specialization this early in their training. Nevertheless, it will be helpful to the Admissions Committee to understand what considerations you have given along these lines.
- Describe a personal experience which challenged your ethical or moral values. What was the outcome?
- Briefly discuss what particular non-academic experiences (e.g. community service, employment, clinical) which most influenced your decision to pursue a medical career, including why and how.
- Why are you applying to this particular medical school?
Don't procrastinate! Completing your secondaries, including making sure your letters of recommendation have been submitted, should be your top priority once you have submitted your application. A number of very strong applicants are disappointed each year because they failed to apply in a timely manner. If you are anywhere near school deadlines, you are more than likely in trouble! Apply as early as is feasible (without sacrificing quality) rather than just before deadlines.