Looking Forward: Medical School

Entering Stony Brook during my freshman year, I knew I was going to plan on applying to medical school soon. I’m in my third year here at Stony Brook, yet I still feel like I’m in the same place I was in freshman year; I’m still on the starting line, without any predetermined plan of where to apply to or what schools to look into. With this general lack of knowledge about my future plans, I tried starting at the first place I think many others have too. I looked at the U.S. News and World Report rankings for 2014 Best Medical Schools (Research). Of the myriad of schools I saw, I tried considering not only the tuition of the schools along with its rankings, as well as its location. I generally prefer to go to medical schools located in New York City, so I could avoid the exorbitant rates for room and board and could, instead, live with my parents while commuting to and from school. However, I did like the idea of moving elsewhere, like California, to experience the different climates and different settings (who doesn’t like generally sunny days and warm weather all year round?) and find some of independence away from my parents. I tried looking up the guidelines for each school I looked into, but without luck. Rather, I found out about the qualities that each school is looking for:

1. New York University School of Medicine

The Admissions Committee embraces the broad definition of diversity endorsed by the AAMC and uses a holistic approach to evaluate a wide range of student qualities and life experiences that are complementary to demonstrated academic excellence, strong interpersonal skills, and leadership potential. The ultimate goal is a student body with a collective desire to improve the health of all segments of our society through outstanding patient care, research, and education.

2. Stony Brook University School of Medicine

The Committee on Admissions carefully examines each candidate’s preparation and promise for creative work in medicine, regardless of the candidate’s area of concentration prior to medical school. Applications from a wide variety of students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and academic interests are encouraged, as well as from groups that have been historically under-represented in medicine.  The School of Medicine adheres to the AAMC definition of underrepresented in medicine: “Underrepresented in medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population.”

3. Brown University, Alpert Medical School

The Committee especially values intellectual curiosity, prior experience in research or the clinical realm, a demonstrated commitment to serving others, integrity, and enthusiasm.

Although I wasn’t able to find the guidelines for the medical school personal statement on each of the school’s website, I was able to find it here. The AMCAS personal statement through which the affiliated medical schools use as a primary application offers one very broad prompt: “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school” (in 5300 characters, including spaces). Although the prompt may appear daunting and difficult to tackle due to the general broadness that requires soul-searching, I found the website really helpful as a guide:


  • Why do you want to be a physician (or dentist, or veterinarian)? What experiences have motivated and reinforced your desire to pursue this profession?  Something to think about – but not necessarily state – is what can medicine offer that other professions do not. For instance, you can help people by being a teacher or social worker.  What draws you specifically to medicine?
  • What experiences have allowed you to develop the skills necessary to be successful in medical school and to become an effective physician?
  • What have you learned about medicine, and what do you want to learn more about?
  • What individuals have shaped your life and influenced you to pursue medicine?
  • What will you contribute to the medical school community?
  • What do you want admissions committees to know about you that is not addressed elsewhere in your application?


  • Why is it important for me to tell admissions committees about this topic as it relates to me?
  • What does this topic choice tell admissions committees about me?; How does my choice of this topic reflect on me?
  • How is this topic relevant to my pursuit of the health professions and to my application to health professions school?
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1 Response to Looking Forward: Medical School

  1. klucenko says:

    The Johns Hopkins resource is very helpful. Thanks for linking to it here! Each of those prompts could be used to freewrite to generate ideas. It would be too much to do in one sitting, but consider, perhaps, responding to 2 prompts per day. These freewrites would be for your eyes only–so don’t edit/censor yourself as you write.

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