Brown medical school secondary essay prompts ask applicants to address a wide range of subjects. If you’re going to write strong secondary essays for this school, you’re going to need to pay close attention to the medical school application timeline to give yourself enough time to brainstorm and write. Brown, along with most medical schools in the US, will ask for specific information about your experiences, attributes, and aspirations. If you’re having trouble getting started, don’t worry – in this article, we provide sample answers to Brown medical school secondary essays that you can use to guide your own.
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The Ins and Outs of Medical School Secondary Essays
If you’re wondering how to make your medical school application stand out, secondary essays are a great way to achieve that. The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University is historically one of the best medical schools in the US. The curriculum offers core clerkships in internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, clinical neuroscience, and family medicine. Brown Medical School is also an institution known for producing physician-scientists primed with research experience in one of their affiliated programs and institutions. With such a diverse curriculum and elective options allowing students to pursue their unique interests, the secondary essays inevitably demonstrate how prospective students will approach such a demanding course load.
Because Brown Medical School also has one of the lowest medical school acceptance rates, a strong secondary essay submission will be necessary. Aside from the other documents you will submit in your application, such as a medical school letter of intent or medical school resume, your secondary essays should relate to the attributes and experiences that demonstrate the potential to become a physician. Medical school is also a rigorous and demanding academic environment, which means you should use your secondary essays to show that your academic history is indicative of your ability to succeed in the program at Brown.
This cycle’s secondary essays ask students to address the following topics (these are not the prompts themselves):
- Activities during the current or past academic year.
- How your attributes will contribute to diversity and inclusion in medical education.
- Aspirations for medical practice.
You will notice how these topics require a combination of retrospective and future-oriented reflection. Essentially, you’re being asked to address how your most recent activities in the academic calendar and your attributes position you to succeed as a medical school student. The second topic is similar to what you might include on your AMCAS statement of disadvantage. Let’s outline a few strategies for addressing each of these topics:
A Note on Secondary Essay Format
The Brown medical school secondary essays you write for prompts 1 and 2 should not exceed 2,000 characters, including spaces. For reference, 2,000 characters is about 285–500 words. The third and final prompt has a 3000-character limit, which is about 428–750 words. You should aim to write as close to the character limit as possible; doing so will allow you to include enough detail to demonstrate your point clearly. It will also show that you’re capable of following instructions and that you can write a succinct and structured essay following basic requirements.
Your essays should be formatted according to standard academic essay requirements. You should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion; information should flow consistently through logical points. When you only have 2,000 or 3,000 characters to convince the admissions committee that you’re worth an acceptance, every word counts. However, don’t try and stuff in words or information, as this will make your essays congested.
Brown Medical School Secondary Essay Prompt #1
“Summarize your activities during the current or past academic year. Describe how your activities are preparing you for a medical career.” (2,000 characters)
Through a student organization for pre-medical students, I met with a doctor named Daniel Allena who was offering shadowing opportunities for pre-meds. Dr. Allena owns a GI health clinic; during my time shadowing him, I observed various procedures, such as colonoscopy, barium swallow tests, upper GI series, and small bowel series. I was specifically interested in this field because colon cancer runs in my family. Having witnessed the pain and adversity of invasive and painful treatment, I know that the health care professionals involved in this level of care make all the difference. By exposing myself to a medical setting in which I can envision myself specializing, I learned that not only is it important to uphold the highest standard of patient care, but that it takes patience and understanding to overcome fear and potential communication barriers.
Earlier this year, I was also volunteering at a hospital as an administrative support assistant. My job was to make phone calls to patient families and confirm upcoming appointments or important dates. I also occasionally worked with the treasury branch to collect donations from local patrons in support of our workers. From communicating with patients and their families, I discovered the importance of being clear, focused, and receptive. Many of the patients or patients’ families had questions about treatment or care options, and I was always glad to answer any questions I was qualified to answer or find someone that could. I always made sure to ask if they had any questions or concerns to show that I was available to help. I learned that listening and being available are important ways to show empathy to people who are possibly worried, afraid, and desperate for answers. I also learned that sociocultural factors could change variables of interaction and make it a challenge to communicate; in these situations, I always listen to the best of my ability and do what I can to accommodate the patient’s concerns.
Brown Medical School Secondary Essay Prompt #2
“How will your unique attributes (e.g., cultural or socioeconomic background, lifestyle, work experiences) add to the overall diversity of the Alpert Medical School community?” (2,000 characters)
I grew up in a small remote city surrounded by large swaths of farmland close to a cottage area along the lake. The irony is that while the landscape is very beautiful, the circumstances in which some people live aren’t. There’s been a fentanyl and opioid crisis throughout most of my time living there. I was lucky to live on the outskirts of town, where we weren’t directly exposed to most of these issues. There was an unsettling number of overdoses reported each year, a number that has recently been rising. Unfortunately, the municipality and health care system hasn’t been able to adequately address this crisis and get people the help they need.
After moving out of the city and into a much larger and industrial one, a TA for one of my classes passed away from an overdose; I was disheartened when I continued to hear news of other students who were affected by addiction, many of whom didn’t know the markers of addiction until their condition had become severe. Despite efforts to install social outreach programs, opioid-use disorder continues to increase. I believe that there are many reasons for why addiction continues to rise, but accessibility to proper care and medicine remains my primary concern. Another reason that proper care isn’t provided in most communities, including my hometown, is that people aren’t receiving the education they need to prevent an addiction from occurring.
I applied to the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University mainly because of the addiction medicine fellowship program. Once I complete medical school and residency, my goal is to create an addiction and mental health clinic in my hometown. Addiction is a complex disorder that requires expert physicians in every community to treat and educate the people suffering and provide resources for their families. Knowing people who suffer from addiction and haven’t received the help they need incites a strong desire to contribute to solving this problem in my community and beyond.
Brown Medical School Secondary Essay Prompt #3
“What are your aspirations for your medical practice? Fast-forward to 15 years in the future: where do you imagine yourself?” (3,000 characters)
My goals are to become a neurologist and conduct research on Tourette Syndrome. When I was a kid, I was sitting in class one day when the teacher called on me to explain why I was blinking and moving my lips in a so-called disruptive way. I didn’t realize I was doing this, and I had no explanation for why I was doing it. The teacher called my parents to complain about my behavior. They took me to a psychologist, who couldn’t explain to me or my confused parents what was happening. I went to many different doctors and clinics, most of whom weren’t aware of a condition that could explain my impaired motor function; I went on medication for ADHD, but it wasn’t helping my symptoms.
Eventually, I went to a doctor named Dr. Spurgeon, who referred me to a neurologist, who then confirmed a diagnosis of Tourette’s. She explained in clear and simple terms that I wasn’t fabricating my symptoms, as others suggested, but that my brain and nervous system were causing my motor tics. I was put on the correct medication and referred to another specialist who used habit reversal therapy to treat my physical symptoms, which were often painful. It was the neurologist who resonated with me the most because of how clear and compassionate she was; from my experience with her, I understood the importance of communication, especially with such a misunderstood condition like Tourette’s. Her approach to explaining how my condition works made me feel understood and more comfortable when I was receiving treatment. It also helped me get the accommodations I needed for class.
Are you writing your med school personal statement? Find more tips here:
Because of my experience of being misdiagnosed and misunderstood by some medical professionals, I want to empower individuals in similar situations living with neurological conditions. The Warren Alpert Medical School’s neuroscience research with a patient-centered focus resonates strongly with how I want to approach treating complex disorders like Tourette’s. Brain science courses and the year 3 clerkships covering neurology and psychiatry will provide me with the knowledge and practice I need to achieve these goals. The wide range of learning options and the clinical services in neurology at the School speak to the depth of knowledge and quality of care that I’d like to contribute to.
Another goal I have is to contribute to impactful neurological research. Promoting neurodivergent concerns and communicating care options will bring those who are suffering and their families much needed relief and clarity. To achieve this goal, I would like to become a fellow at the Brown Biology and Medicine Department of Neurology. The program comprises a range of subspecialities, but the one that appeals to me the most is the movement disorders fellowship. The opportunity to conduct research at the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) clinic would help me achieve my goal of understanding complex movement disorders and improve the lives of affected people.
1. Does Brown Medical School have any formatting requirements for the secondary essays?
Your secondary essays for the first two prompts should not have more than 2,000 characters; the third prompt can be a little longer but should not exceed 3,000 characters.
2. How do I structure the secondary essay?
You should be writing in standard essay format. That means you should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Your topic sentence should be clear and interesting, and your points should flow logically and consistently from one to another.
3. Is it a good idea to start pre-writing?
If you can, yes. Starting early can give your more time to plan, write, and revise. If you decide to start writing early, make sure you’re writing for prompts that have remained consistent from cycle to cycle, because they can often change.
4. Can I use material from other secondary essays?
You can if it’s applicable. However, don’t just copy and paste without organizing the information correctly. Make sure you don’t mention the name of the other schools you were applying to in the wrong essay.
5. How long does it take to write the essays?
You should take as much time as you need from the day you receive the prompts to the deadlines provided. You want to make sure you have enough time to edit and get the writing done. If you do submit early, it can show enthusiasm – but you don’t want to sacrifice quality to submit earlier. Consider the medical school application timeline for the schools you’re applying to so you can organize your schedule more effectively.
6. How can I write more efficiently?
Use your resume, cover letter, and other application documents as reference. Having them with you as you write will help you plan your essays and help you avoid missing any important information. Be careful not to repeat anything you might have written in other documents.
7. How can I make connections to the program?
Research the curriculum. Brown Medical School offers clerkships and research opportunities; think about what appeals to you about these aspects and relate them to your goals as a prospective physician.
8. What traits should I demonstrate in my secondary essays?
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) lists various competencies for entering medical students. Some of these include social skills, ethical responsibility to self and others, and critical thinking.
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