If you’re applying to the University of Michigan Medical School, one of the best medical schools in Michigan, then you should read University of Michigan medical school secondary essays. Secondary essays give you an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are, what your goals are, and how you can contribute to the school community. The aim of your secondary essays is to show the school that your attributes align with their mission. Secondary essays can be difficult and stressful, so in this article, we go over each secondary essay for Michigan medical school and provide sample answers.

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Article Contents
10 min read

What Are Medical School Secondary Essays? Admissions Statistics Strategies for University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essays University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essay #1 University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essay #2 University of Michigan Medical School Essay #3 University of Michigan Medical School Essay #4 FAQs

What Are Medical School Secondary Essays?

Before you start writing your secondary essays, it’s a good idea to review examples of medical school secondary essays. Secondary essays are an opportunity for admissions committees to get to know you better. Remember, because you’ve already submitted a medical school personal statement in your primary application, schools already know some of your background information, so your secondary essays need to be distinct. Each essay will require you to address a topic within a specified word or character limit.

Admissions Statistics

Because most schools will send secondary essay prompts to applicants regardless of their stats, applicants will be wondering how to get into medical school with a low GPA. Here’s some information regarding admissions statistics for the University of Michigan Medical School:

Class Profile

GPA average: 3.72

MCAT percentile: 90.5

Total applicants: 10,624

Total number of medical students: 785

Strategies for University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essays

At the University of Michigan Medical School, there are four mandatory essays. Some essays have two prompts that you can choose from. Here’s a list of the following topics you must address (these aren’t the prompts themselves):

Let’s look at what each topic means and how you can approach the secondary essays:

University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essay #1

Prompt 1: “Comment on how you hope to impact medicine in the future. If examples are needed, feel free to refer to our seven Paths of Excellence.” Do not exceed 1,500 characters including spaces (about 250 words).

OR, if applying to the Medical Scientist Training Program:

Prompt 2: “Describe why you are applying to the University of Michigan MSTP. If you are interested in a specific department, program, or area of research for your PhD, please provide a brief explanation. We recognize that your interests may change.” Do not exceed 1,500 characters including spaces (about 250 words).

Prompt #1:

My goal is to improve current approaches to achieving patient autonomy; specifically, I want to address commonplace classifications of what is considered beneficence and non-maleficence in a rapidly evolving medical context. I believe the balance between justice and freedom of choice remains a point of contention within medical ethics due to the advancement of technologically sophisticated and personalized treatment. As such, I believe that there are ways to enhance patient autonomy without interfering with due process in clinical settings.

When I was writing for the student medical journal at X university, I was involved in a research project investigating mental health disparities among minority groups. What we noticed was that Black residents in most American states were significantly less likely to access counselling services for mental health issues, despite no evidence to suggest a lower incidence of mental illness compared to other racial groups.

An effective compromise between autonomy and due process can be made by improving accessibility. At Michigan Medical School, the path of excellence that I would like to pursue is ethics, as I would like to explore the dimension of health care accessibility dealing with ethical implications. I would also like to participate in an independent study at the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine emphasizing the elimination of disparities in health care.

Characters: 1,433

Prompt #2:

I am applying to the University of Michigan MSTP because I’m interested in pursuing research in the field of genetics. My grandfather suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s, and while he was receiving treatment, he participated in a study focusing on the role of dopamine in Alzheimer’s progression. My experience with the emotional toll of witnessing my grandfather’s pain motivates my desire to contribute to alleviating the suffering associated with this type of disease.

What appeals to me the most about the Medical Scientist Training Program are the research rotations. The area that aligns with my goal of becoming a neuroscience researcher is sensory and computational neuroscience, a topic that receives a surfeit of attention from faculty members, which are at present focused on the genetic dissection of neural circuits that underlie the processing of sensory stimuli.

In addition to specific research interests, the MSTP seminars are another aspect of the program that excites me. During my pre-med studies, I was a member of an association in which students gather with guest speakers to discuss current research. It was in this association that I built a cursory understanding of epigenetics and neuroplasticity as it relates to neurodegenerative disorders. I know that the value of discourse cannot be overstated, which is why scientific seminars are something I’d like to continue to be a part of and eventually contribute to as I pursue my medical degree.

Characters: 1,470

University of Michigan Medical School Secondary Essay #2

“Please respond to only one of the following two prompts. Do not exceed 2,500 characters including spaces.” (about 400 words)

  1. Prompt 1: “Describe your identity and how it has impacted the development of your values and attitudes toward individuals different from yourself and how this will impact your interactions with future colleagues and patients.”
  2. Prompt 2: “If you recognize and/or represent a voice that is missing, underrepresented, or undervalued in medicine, please describe the missing voice(s) and how increased representation in medicine could impact the medical community.”

Prompt #1:

At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with autism. Throughout my life up until that moment, I’d felt that all my anxiety, confusion, and social ineptitude were a result of personal failing. My condition was not noticed by my parents or teachers because I always had strong grades, and I had always managed to make friends, even though I found it hard to keep them as I got older. My symptoms are not as debilitating as those of others who have the same condition in a more severe form. Through therapy, I’ve learned to accept myself as a neurodivergent woman and to exercise self and other compassion in situations where my personal needs conflict with the needs of others.

I’ve also had to reconcile the fact that many women and young girls are overlooked when it comes to the diagnosis of autism. The reality is that girls and women often don’t fit the stereotypes associated with autism, and many of them mask symptoms in a way that doesn’t single them out. Once I came to terms with my diagnosis, I was able to put a lot of my difficulties in perspective, and it was a relief to know that there was a reason. During my undergraduate studies, I joined the Autism Student Alliance at my university to become an advocate for individuals with autism, specifically women who may be struggling to navigate life and certain situations made complicated by their symptoms. It’s been a great joy of mine to be able to meet and work with brilliant and unique individuals willing to share their stories with our community.

Doctors with autism are not well-represented voices in medicine. This rarity is a result of people with this condition facing barriers that can be difficult to overcome without proper resources, and those resources are often lacking. Knowing and working with many autistic individuals, and being one myself, I believe I can be a voice for this community in medicine. Having more neurodivergent physicians will help ensure education and resources are available for physicians who experience personal and professional difficulties. With the right accommodations, I believe people with autism who want to pursue a career in medicine can thrive and provide a perspective that is currently lacking.

Characters: 2,202

Prompt #2:

I am a Black woman in the United States of America. I came from a middle-class family with two parents who were always supportive and present, along with my two younger brothers. From a young age, I’ve tried to be a model for my brothers and show them that if they develop goals and ambitions that they work hard to achieve, anything can happen.

We grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, where diversity wasn’t always as common as it is now. People whom we thought were friendly neighbors often turned out to harbor a false image of who we were as Black people. I remember one instance when I was walking home one night from a friend’s house: my neighbor from across the road approached me to ask what I was doing. I explained that it was my own house I was entering, and he backed away and apologized.

Throughout my life, I’ve had similar experiences dealing with subtle racism. The most upsetting experience I had was when I went to the doctor for a foot fracture. When I explained to the doctor that I was in considerable pain and that I thought my foot could be broken, he performed a negligent examination and told me that it was only a sprain, and that I would be fine in a few days, no more than a week or two. Knowing that it wasn’t a mere sprain, I was adamant that I wanted an X-ray just to be sure. After I went downstairs for the X-ray, it turned out that I did suffer a small fracture. I’ve spoken with other Black women who have had similar dismal experiences trying to receive proper treatment, especially when reporting pain.

Because of experiences like these, I’ve learned never to judge people by the cover; I know that people face discrimination of all sorts, and that implicit bias is pernicious and deceptive, making it difficult to pin down. As a future physician, I want to make sure no one, especially someone who is more vulnerable to prejudicial attitudes, has their symptoms dismissed without due consideration. Everyone regardless of background should have the right to access quality health care, to be listened to, and to be understood by the people they seek help from.

Characters: 2,106

University of Michigan Medical School Essay #3

Prompt: “How was your journey to medical school affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Please feel free to describe any positive or negative aspects.” Do not exceed 2,500 characters including spaces (about 400 words).

My journey to medical school was changed in a significant way because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start, I was planning on becoming a physiotherapist after I completed my degree in biology. However, when the schools were locked down and classes were put on hold, I started reading about the development of vaccines. I found the information so fascinating and inspiring because of how quick and diligent the medical experts and scientists were. With lives and livelihoods on the line, there was no time to waste. I was intrigued by how the mRNA uses a protein to trigger the production of a section of that protein in an immune response. I was also fascinated by the biomechanics behind our cells making copies of the spike protein and the fact that they can recognize the real virus and know how to trigger an immune response with the information they were given through the vaccine.

One negative aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of my journey to medical school was the delay it caused. Because classes were shut down, I graduated a year later than I was supposed to. I also had trouble adapting to the remote learning format because I tend to thrive in group settings and when I’m around others. This sudden format change did not affect my grades, but I initially struggled to find the motivation I had when classes were on campus. I know that many other students experienced similar demoralization. However, I think having that experience gave me a more urgent and vigilant outlook when it comes to preventing the next pandemic and wanting to contribute to that effort by becoming a vaccine researcher.

Characters: 1,622

Want to know how to write a successful medical school secondary essay? Watch this video:

University of Michigan Medical School Essay #4

Prompt: “Outside of medicine, and beyond what we can read in your application, please tell us what you’re curious about, or what you’re passionate about, or what brings you joy – and why. Some examples include listening to historical novels, exploring national parks, woodworking, baking cupcakes, podcasting, knitting, playing pickleball, filmmaking, making music, etc.” Do not exceed 1,500 characters including spaces (about 250 words).

When I was completing my undergraduate degree, a hobby that I stumbled upon was creative writing. Growing up, I was never too interested in English classes, and I was never enthusiastic about my writing assignments or assigned readings until I reached university. However, in my freshman year, I began journaling to manage stress. It was recommended to me by a wellness coach that I was seeing regularly from the campus student resource center, but eventually, it turned into writing fiction. I’ve always been interested in books, primarily thrillers and horror novels, because I enjoy the suspense. I’m also fond of a good mystery novel, as I enjoy playing detective and trying to figure out who the culprit of the crime is.

I find reading such an enriching experience because you’re immersing yourself in the world and experience of someone or something completely different and hitherto unexplored. Reading is also a good measure of compassion and critical thinking, and I think it’s a fun and practical exploration of the human mind and what people can accomplish. When it comes to creative writing, I find that designing worlds with my own physics and limitations satisfies the often-neglected creative side of me. I also enjoy the challenge that creative writing entails – setting goals and actualizing them is something I’ve been able to apply to my life in other ways and having small writing accomplishments shows me that I’m capable of achieving bigger things.

Characters: 1,469


1. What are the formatting requirements for the University of Michigan medical school secondary essays?

Each prompt has its own requirements. For the first prompt, in which applicants can choose one of two options, the essay should not exceed 1,500 characters with spaces; about 250 words. All other prompts besides the final one have a character limit of 2,500 (about 400 words), and the final prompt has a limit of 1,500 characters.

2. How do I discuss my identity in a secondary essay?

Your identity is about how you define yourself. Consider how your background, interests, beliefs, and experiences shape who you are. You may incorporate your long-term goals as a physician and what you hope to achieve based on how you define yourself.

3. How can I write about why I’m applying to the Michigan Medical Scientist Training Program?

This prompt is specifically about the MSTP program, so you will want to discuss aspects of the program that appeal to you. Be specific; for example, you might write about a research interest that you can tackle through this program.

4. Where can I find out more about current faculty research interests?

You can visit the researcher profiles at the University of Michigan Medical School website. Read about what they’re actively working on and think about how your research goals will align with their interests.

5. How should I relate my goals to the school’s mission?

Familiarize yourself with the strategic plan for the University of Michigan Medical School, which has 5 relevant sections: people, discovery, education, care, and service. Then, identify areas that resonate with your experiences, interests, and objectives.

6. How should I organize my secondary essays?

First, establish which essays you are going to write. Some of the prompts involve a choice, so make sure you’re choosing to write the most applicable essay. Then, research the program, including the curriculum and special activities. This will help you connect your interests and goals with the school’s mission. Finally, create an outline for each essay using information from your research before you start writing the first draft.

7. What if my research interests change?

The University of Michigan Medical School recognizes that your research interests can change. However, for the purposes of your secondary essays, you should be prepared to discuss potential research areas that appeal to you, even if they might change in the future.

8. Should I discuss my extracurriculars for the essay prompt regarding personal interests, passions, or joys?

You can, but you don’t have to. Applicants should view this prompt as more open-ended. There isn’t a strategic way to answer this question besides being direct and honest.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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