2024 Medical School Secondary Essays Examples

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Our team of physician and medical student editors had the pleasure of helping students craft the following medical school secondary essays. 

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“Why This School” Essay

Tell us about any specific reason(s) (personal, educational, etc.) why you see yourself here at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The ending of the motto of the Moravian church, which has a strong historical connection with Winston-Salem, is “…in all things, love.” This concluding statement is an apt description of how I attempt to live my life. Wake Forest upholds such values of inclusion and love through the Lovefest tradition and programs such as the student-run DEAC Clinic. After working at free clinics in rural areas, I am committed to becoming a physician that will promote systems of care in the community. With my exposure to rural primary care, I want to use the Rural/Underserved Health experience offered to Wake Forest students through the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians to further my understanding and training in this career path. Furthermore, as an extension of working in primary care, I am interested in being a geriatrician. Wake Forest, as one of the best geriatric hospitals in the country, has a curriculum that aligns with my interests. I am confident that through research, service, and patient care, Wake Forest will shape me into a leader of rural health care for the geriatric community.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Wake Forest School of Medicine | Class of 2024

Adversity Essay

Describe a significant challenge you have experienced in your life, share the strategies you employed to overcome the challenge, and what you learned from the experience.

One personal adversity I have overcome is my lack of self-confidence. I was always a quiet child who grew up with two older sisters doing most of the talking. As I aged, I came out my shell to an extent and became more outgoing. I have always struggled in one particular area: public speaking. My passion for medicine grew early as I observed my eldest sister work alongside physicians during her nursing training. However, my shy nature led me to select pre-nursing as my major, since nursing does not require the ability to speak publicly like being a physician often does. I did not truly consider a career as a doctor until my anatomy and physiology professor suggested I do so after recognizing my drive, aptitude, and passion. Even so, it took introspection and time to recognize that I held the potential to become a successful physician.

Over my undergraduate career, I have participated in many group presentations during classes without the benefit of being taught how to successfully prepare. On every occasion, I would become so nervous that I was unable to sleep the entire night prior. By the time I presented, I would be so distracted that I could not think straight, let alone get my point across clearly. This went on until I had the opportunity to participate in a class called Peer Instruction in Laboratory Occupational Training (PILOT), which was an extension of a class that I had succeeded in, Quantitative Biological Methods.

PILOT was designed to expose students to research articles and assist with laboratory techniques and homework. A large part of the grade for the class consisted of teaching a laboratory section of around 40 students for 15 minutes. I almost opted out of the class because of this requirement, but ultimately decided it was a great opportunity to work through my personal fear of public speaking and build my self-confidence.

I set a schedule six weeks ahead of the presentation to begin preparing. A few helpful peers offered advice, telling me that knowing what I wanted to say verbatim was a good way to improve confidence. Thus, I practiced daily until three weeks before the class. I found another tip online: practicing in the actual location of the presentation can help reduce nerves. Subsequently, I approached one of my laboratory teaching assistants and asked if he would let me practice in the laboratory. He was an excellent teaching assistant and took the time to watch me practice and provide feedback.

Ultimately, I felt that I was able to present eloquently and received an excellent grade. Life is full of challenges, and I learned that preparation is key to success. I planned and prepared early, pulled from available resources, and implemented advice from faculty and peers. This experience taught me that I do have the aptitude, strength, and drive to succeed in medical school and overcome any obstacle that I might face. I am eager to embrace more personal growth and realize my full potential as I continue on to medical school.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Nova Southeastern University College Of Osteopathic Medicine | Class of 2024

Diversity Essay

“Do you consider yourself a person who would contribute to the diversity of the student body of Tufts University School of Medicine?” If yes, briefly explain why.

I am a Muslim, Saudi woman, but I am not the preconceived notions of being close minded, uncultured, or oppressed. I’m a passionate helper, an open-minded extrovert, and a curious explorer of the world. 

Though I grew up attending a school that taught me to be a leader and encouraged competition, and though travelling the world allowed me to explore new cultures, homogeneity was the ‘norm’ everywhere I went until I attended school in the US. George C. Marshall High School showed me how enriching diversity is. There, in a mixture of backgrounds and ethnicities, I was an ‘other’ among many ‘others’. The following year in Nebraska was different, and I experienced the damage of prejudice when I was the only ‘other’. My experiences drove me to work to bring different people together to give back. Years later, at NYU, this personal passion pushed me to create a volunteer tutoring nonprofit organization. 

I believe the ‘other’ in me, with the uncommon background, the unique experiences, and the interesting perspectives, will contribute to the diversity of the student body at Tufts.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Albert Einstein College of Medicine | Class of 2024

“How Will You Contribute to Our School” Essay

Explain how interactions with people who are different from you have shaped your worldview and relate how you would enrich the VTC community.

From my academic and work experiences, I have frequently worked with people who are different from myself. Working with students and professors from different backgrounds through college helped me appreciate different viewpoints, especially during my bioethics training.  Listening to my classmate, who was a Catholic hospice nurse, explain her differing stance on end-of-life care showed me to appreciate the legitimacy of different opinions. Likewise, I learned from sociology graduate students about the issue of the medicalization of mental illness, which I had not had to consider prior to speaking and working with them. These experiences will help me contribute to the community by enabling me to approach problems from multiple lenses and to listen to and value the input of experts in different fields.

My experiences engaging with different individuals will help me to enrich the community at Virginia Tech. As a tutor, I have been able to work with students of different ages and backgrounds with unique learning goals. For example, my student, Danny, was an adult student taking classes at a community college and had failed his statistics course three times before meeting with me. Even though I had excelled in math classes during school, I was able to listen to his frustrations and identify different ways to help him learn the content and be able to apply it for quizzes and exams. I helped him navigate through the material, and he ended up passing the course comfortably. By working with a wide variety of students like Danny, I have been able to understand the importance of listening actively to individuals’ struggles and unique experiences to learn about how to best help them and I am excited to apply this skill to help future individuals.

In addition to my experiences tutoring, I have been able to interact with individuals different from myself through volunteering. For example, at Judson Park, I volunteered by helping one resident, Ron, participate in art therapy. Ron had suffered two prior strokes and was wheelchair-bound and hemiplegic. I was able to help bring him down to the art room and organize supplies for him. Ron was unique in his needs, which was why he required individualized care to be able to participate in the art therapy. He also struggled with communicating verbally due to deficits from his prior strokes. I adapted by patiently waiting for him to respond at his own pace and looking for body language cues for what he needed at the moment. He was able to make incredible art creations, showing me the resilience of differently abled individuals.

These experiences have shown me the importance of valuing everyone’s unique perspectives and utilizing that consideration and compassion to help others. I can enrich the VTC community by providing this diverse perspective to help my peers and ultimately serve the greater community as a physician.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: University of Virginia School of Medicine | Class of 2024

“Future Goals” Essay

After residency, describe the community in which you see yourself practicing medicine.

Currently, I can see myself practicing medicine in a variety of clinical settings: a private specialty care system, a nonprofit medical facility, individual practice, or a different setting. I am open to all of the new experiences that medical school will bring, including exposure to a variety of clinical settings.

I have worked as a medical scribe at the largest non-profit health care provider in Seattle and have also volunteered for a private specialty hospital. Both of these experiences have exposed me to a different type of medical practice, and I have enjoyed both although in different ways. I loved the diversity of patients I encountered at the nonprofit and enjoyed experiencing different clinic visits whether for constipation or throat pain. At the specialty hospital, I was able to encounter unique and rare medical cases that I’ve only read about in books such as spina bifida or hydrocephalus. I was also able to witness the very specialized and personalized care. I am excited to explore the various clinical setting options in medical school and residency, and figure out which environment best suits my strengths and interests!

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Stanford School of Medicine | Class of 2024

“Academic Lapses or Breaks” Essay

Use this space if you’d like to address any identified deficiencies in your application.

When I suddenly lost my father to pancreatic cancer shortly before starting college, I was confused and frustrated about my loss. Although I had dreamt of becoming a doctor since I was a little girl, I was newly unsure of whether medicine was right for me. Because I lacked a tangible goal and motivation, my studies and grades suffered during my first years of college. However, once I began volunteering at the Children’s Hospital during my sophomore year, I developed a renewed sense of appreciation and passion for medicine. I started to care a lot more about school and enjoyed learning again. I began working extremely hard in my classes, and slowly but surely, my GPA rose.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine | Class of 2024

“Why D.O.?” Essay

How do your professional ambitions align with osteopathic medicine?

My professional ambitions have always aligned with a medical career, ever since I observed my childhood hero and oldest sister, Brittany, work alongside physicians as a registered nurse. At the time, I was only eight years old and not yet privy to the nuances of allopathic versus osteopathic medicine.

Throughout my experiences with the medical profession as a patient and mother, I have found myself disappointed with some of the allopathic medical treatments. I have myself been treated pharmaceutically with medications and became non-compliant with my treatment due to side effects. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with herpetic neuralgia. My neurologist prescription Neurontin, which helped with the symptoms but left me in a fog. I found myself questioning whether there could be a better method.

As an undergraduate student, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to a presentation by a doctor of osteopathy from Lake Eerie College of Medicine in Bradenton, FL. The speaker discussed osteopathic medicine, its principles, and manipulative medicine (OMM). He talked about a time when he bumped into an old friend who had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. His friend’s condition was so severe that he needed a cane to ambulate independently. The D.O. performed OMM for his friend and provided him with a set of exercises to perform daily at home. Ultimately, the friend did not require the surgery his allopathic physician had recommended.

After listening to his presentation, I felt as though I had a breakthrough. I realized that I wholeheartedly supported these principles as the better solution that I had been looking for. With osteopathic medicine, I could practice medicine in a traditional manner while wielding a valuable skill set that could spare patients from invasive surgeries and pharmaceutical therapeutics causing undesired side effects.

Furthermore, while studying for the MCAT a year ago, I developed a constant waxing and waning neck pain that would radiate to my right shoulder and down my arm. This worsened over a period of four weeks, and I took increasing amounts of ibuprofen to calm the symptoms. A good friend of mine is a physical therapist who manipulated my spine and sent me home with instructions for an exercise plan. She also taught me how to self-evaluate my posture, which has been valuable in preventing additional episodes. I was incredibly impressed with the outcome of the treatment that used my own body and its muscles to treat the pain without using pharmaceuticals or leaving me with residual deficits. As such, my personal trust in natural treatments has emphasized to me that osteopathic medicine is the path I am meant to follow. 

The more I learn about osteopathic medicine, the more excited I am to incorporate its principles into my future practice. I am thrilled to learn and practice medicine with a holistic approach to evaluate and treat patients. As a healthcare partner to my future patients, I feel inspired to encourage the implementation of prevention, maintenance, and natural remedies into their treatment plans.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine | Class of 2024

Why are secondary essays important?

  • Schools ask these questions for a specific reason
  • It’s your final chance to make a strong impression
  • When they’re done right, you will lockdown an interview spot

Join over 1,500 of our accepted med school applicants by using Motivate MD's review service.

Meet Some of Your Editors

Ansel N., MD,PhD


Alexa S., MD

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine


Harvard Medical School


Yale School of Medicine


George Washington School of Medicine




NYU Grossman School of Medicine


Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons


University of California San Francisco School of Medicine

what others are saying about our essay reviews...

Ansel N., MD/PhD

Radiation Oncology Resident
Former Medical School: Ohio State

My name is Ansel Nalin. I am a current Radiation Oncology resident at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. I graduated from the Ohio State University College of Medicine MD/PhD program.

While in medical school, I tutored first- and second-year medical students, helping them review lecture material and prepare for block exams. I taught study strategies to first-year students adjusting to the medical school curriculum. I worked individually with students during board exam preparation. I also led a review course for MD/PhD students prior to taking Step 1. In addition to my role as a tutor, I was also selected by the Ohio State College of Medicine Academic Office staff to serve in a leadership role for two years. In this role I led the team of 40 students on the peer tutoring team. I met weekly with College of Medicine staff to plan academic programs benefitting first- and second-year medical students. Together we organized and managed academic resources for medical students including our peer tutoring programs, group review sessions, and student-led review lectures. I coordinated the tutoring assignments for medical students involved in the program; over 100 students utilized the programs. We oversaw the creation of new student-led anatomy review sessions that were incorporated into the medical school academic program.

While enrolled in the MD/PhD program, I completed my PhD in cancer immunology studying natural killer cell development. I also collaborated on translational research projects seeking to identify new cell-based therapies for cancer. I published multiple papers in high impact journals and had the opportunity to present my work at both local and international conferences. I continue to pursue research that develops immune-based therapies for cancer and plan to pursue a career as a physician-scientist.

I joined the team at Motivate MD to help students achieve their goals in medicine. I have benefitted from the support of many outstanding mentors, and I strive to have a similarly positive impact in helping students succeed. My experiences as a tutor and teaching assistant, in both undergraduate and medical school, have helped me develop excellent skills in communication and mentoring. In addition to my teaching and leadership experience, I have developed specific skills to help students with the application and interview process for medical school and residency programs.

Not only am I familiar with what makes a strong application, I am prepared to help students highlight their strengths in their essays and interviews. I have extensive writing and speaking experience from my graduate studies. I have coached other students in communicating effectively. From my own experience in interviewing for medical school and residency, I can help students gain confidence in their communication skills and clearly express their motivations and goals. As a member of the Motivate MD team, I am passionate about helping students work toward their goal of a successful career in medicine.

Alexa S., MD

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

I am an OBGYN resident and graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Throughout medical school, I engaged in research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and UCCOM’s OBGYN department. I have a strong background in mentorship. In medical school, I was a part of an organization that would mentor local Cincinnati youths. I was also involved in mentoring medical students in the years below through her medical scholar’s program. I also have a lot of experience editing medical school essays and mentoring my scribes when I was a chief scribe during my gap years.

I took two years off prior to applying for medical school. During this time, I completed research at WashU with a neuroimaging lab as a clinical research coordinator and scribed in an emergency department.

The medical application process was daunting for me. I went through the process of taking the MCAT multiple times and struggled to figure out where I would be a competitive applicant. I chose to work for Motivate MD to assist students with this intimidating process and help in areas where I felt I was lacking guidance prior to medical school! I am very excited to get the opportunity to work with you!



Harvard Medical School

Jisoo is a medical student at Harvard Medical School. She has a background in neurobiology wet-lab research, and has a strong interest in mentorship, especially of underserved populations. Everyone has a unique journey to medical school, and Jisoo is committed to helping applicants present their own unique journeys in a meaningful and comprehensive manner. She has lots of experience working with individuals that have diverse pathways to medical school and closely collaborates with applicants from the beginning to the end of their application process, providing individualized support for each applicant.


Yale School of Medicine

Hi! My name is Rhys (pronounced like “Reese’s Pieces”) and I am a medical student at Yale School of Medicine.

I have upwards of 9 years experience mentoring peers, most recently aiding students through the premedical path at my undergrad. I also have worked as an executive function/planning tutor for Los Angeles area high school and college students. Earlier in college, I worked as a research aide/teaching assistant helping students leverage “writing-to-learn” in order to improve their understanding of complex concepts.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Health Policy from the University of Southern California in 2021, I took a gap year primarily to scribe at a pediatric clinic to boost my clinical experience hours and to continue to work on a philanthropic start-up I co-founded while at USC.

At USC, I had multiple research experiences ranging from biomedical device research in a hybrid wet lab to policy analysis. I also was heavily involved in pro-bono consulting for non-profits and social enterprises.

I have personal experience approaching the common “Why Medicine?” question from a non-traditional angle (engineering major/activities and low clinical hours compared to non-clinical), tying in a non-standard major “X factor” extracurricular into the overall theme of an application, and expressing interest in dual degrees/interdisciplinary medical careers (policy, public health etc).

I look forward to helping you plan for and execute your unique path to medical school!


George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Hi Everyone! My name is Anthu Gnanakumar and I am a medical student at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. I majored in neuroscience and minored in English at the University of Virginia prior to taking a gap year and attending medical school. During my gap year, I worked as a medical assistant (MA) at endocrinology and pediatric primary care practices. I really value the hands-on experience I got through being an MA and would highly recommend taking a gap year if you are at all considering it!

I remember being daunted by the significant uptick in medical school applications during the pandemic and can empathize with the ever-increasing competitiveness of getting into medical school. I have mentored and advised multiple peers and friends from high school and college as they navigated the application process and look forward to extending that mentorship to many of you. It is my hope that we can work together to shape your narrative into meaningful essays and interview responses!


Duke University School of Medicine

Hi all! My name is Arthi and I’m a medical student at Duke. I am originally from New Jersey and went to Duke for undergrad where I was able to discover interests in medical humanities, global health, and peer mentorship. Having previously taught in an art studio, I found ways to engage with medical humanities through storytelling and creative arts with elders with dementia. In medical school, I help run a program that allows admitted patients to share their life story and with cartoon creations to simplify medical diagnoses. I also majored in global health and worked on projects in based in Uganda and India during undergrad that focused on studying how evidence-based interventions actually function in practice. I spent my gap year as a global health research assistant which allowed me to gain experience with all stages of project initiation, management, and dissemination. I’m working towards spending Duke’s MS3 research year engaging with global health implementation research on site.

I don’t have any family in medicine so I asked for a lot of advice from upperclassmen and medical students throughout. I was a peer tutor for over 3 years and during my senior year, I started a peer advising program that’s goal was to reach beyond just academics. During that time, I mentored many premed students on course choice, finding research and volunteering experiences, applying to summer program and gap year jobs, MCAT, and building a school list. I continued many of these relationships since graduating and have been able to provide continued support through brainstorming and editing primary and secondary applications, interview prep, and ultimately decision making. One thing I’ve come to learn from my process and that my classmates is that there isn’t one right way to do things and it can be valuable to talk through and understand your priorities and the things that make you the most excited and craft your application around those. I know how stressful and draining each step of the application process can be and I would love the chance to provide some of guidance and support I received at whichever turn you need.


NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Admissions Committee Experience

Hi! My name is Kate and I’m a current medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City! I’m originally from Kingsport, Tennessee and attended Clemson University where I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Applied Health Research.

I have many years of experience as an advisor and mentor, mainly through working as study abroad ambassador and as a peer tutor and peer mentor through a Women in Engineering organization at my school. Later in college, I also worked as a teaching assistant for a challenging chemical engineering course in my degree. I also volunteered my time as a tour guide and was able to provide loads of advice and guidance to future students through that role.

While finishing my master’s degree at Clemson University, I worked as a scribe at a gastroenterology clinic to boost my clinical experience hours. During this time, I also served as a mentor and health coach for a local volunteer organization with a mission to help people get off of government assistance.

At Clemson, I had multiple research experiences ranging from social psychology to OB/GYN clinical research. I was also heavily involved with STEM outreach at local schools, ran a pitch competition, and volunteered as a conversational partner for international students who were learning English. I also spent the summer after I graduated college working at Interlochen Arts Camp as a camp counselor and reigniting my passion for theatre and the arts.

I have had a slightly more non-traditional path to medicine (engineering degree/extracurriculars, taking a year to do a master’s, working at an arts camp), and I have a lot of experience in how to best weave together your own unique story in order to stand out to admissions committees. As a current medical student, I now spend my time working as an Admissions Ambassador and serving as a mentor to incoming students. I also currently interview for my medical school and so I can provide a lot of insight as I’ve sat on both sides of the Zoom interview screen.

I look forward to helping you put your best foot forward in your applications and interviews for medical school!


Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Hello! I am a medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons planning to apply into neurology this upcoming fall. I have extensive mentoring and advising experience both prior to medical school, when I served as a peer advisor for my undergraduate institution’s pre-health club, and as a medical student, continuing to advise undergraduates on essay writing, interview preparation, and general application and career advice. I also work as a mentor in the local community, tutoring and advising 8th grade and high school age students interested in the health sciences. I have significant research and publication experience beginning as an undergraduate and continuing throughout medical school, having published four first-author manuscripts while contributing to multiple others. Prior to medical school, I spent a gap year as a National Institutes of Health Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award fellow, a role in which I studied Alzheimer’s disease proteomics and metabolomics. Currently, my research focus has shifted towards neuroinfectious diseases and contributions of infectious exposures to lifetime dementia risk. In addition to clinical medicine, I have a strong interest in public health and anthropology that informs my research and clinical pursuits. 


University of California San Francisco School of Medicine

Hello! My name is Jessica, and I am a medical student at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology at Johns Hopkins University, along with a minor in Entrepreneurship & Management. At Hopkins, I played on the varsity tennis team, served as a peer tutor, and volunteered at the JHH Sickle Cell Infusion Center.

After graduating from college, I took on a full-time position at the Sickle Cell Infusion Center as a clinical research coordinator. I stayed in this role for one gap year, where I ran the largest registry of sickle cell disease patients in the United States, helping to characterize disparities faced in health outcomes and access to care.

Since starting medical school, I have become heavily involved in cervical cancer research, volunteering at the Chinese Hospital in downtown San Francisco, and advocating for vulnerable populations. As a first-generation medical student, I understand how overwhelming the application process is and how vital near-peer guidance can be. I’ve helped several applicants through their application writing and interview process, who will all be matriculating to medical school this upcoming fall. I look forward to helping you curate your own story, put your best foot forward, and pursue your dream career!