Our team of physician and medical student editors had the pleasure of helping students craft the following medical school secondary essays.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
2020 M.D. Graduate at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Background: Editor for 2 years
2020 D.O. Graduate at NSU-COM
Background: Has 3 publications
2020 MD/MBA Graduate at the University of Virginia School of Medicine
Background: Tutor for the past 6 years
MS2 at Harvard Medical School
Background: Former freelance content writer
MS1 at UNC School of Medicine
Background: Former English major
MS2 at Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Background: Editor for 2 years
First Year MD/PhD Student at SUNY Upstate Medical University
Background: Has 2 publications
MS2 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine
Background: Former D1 Athlete
MS2 at the NYU Long Island School of Medicine
Background: Past tutor
MS3 at The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont
Background: Medical Student Ambassador
MS4 at Florida International University College of Medicine
Background: Editor for 1 year
MS2 at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine
Background: A part of the Dual-Admissions program: B.S./D.O.
MS2 at McGovern Medical School
Background: Earned a double major in Business Honors and Management
MS1 at the Miller School of Medicine – University of Miami
Background: Earned a Masters of Science in Medical Sciences
MS2 at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Background: Tutor for incoming med students