How to write about your goals in medicine for secondaries

medical school admissions secondary applications

Answering the question “what are your goals in medicine?” or other variants of discussing your potential future career can be daunting. After all, isn’t one of the main points of medical school to figure out where you see yourself fitting in for medicine? Many of us, including myself, went into the application cycle with a whole range of potential paths, built upon our own shadowing experiences and mentor figures we admired. How can you be sure what specialty or career path you see yourself going into prior to even getting the experience you need to make that decision?

It's important to remember that having a definitive answer for what you want to do isn’t the goal of this essay. Rather, it’s a chance for you to demonstrate two critical things:

  1. What are your key motivations for going into medicine?
  2. Have you thought carefully about your motivations for going into medicine? And have you effectively explored your options at this point in time?
There are four main points that I found essential when crafting my responses to this particular prompt:

What is a “goal” in medicine?

The phrasing is purposefully vague and in many cases allows you to tackle this prompt on from a variety of angles. You can either express interest in a specific career path (e.g. physician-scientist at an academic medical center) or a broader line of word (e.g. interested in working in health equity in a public health setting). The only limitation here is that you want to make sure your response actually answers every aspect of the specific prompt, since schools may ask for slightly different facets of your goals. 

It’s okay if you haven’t figured everything out yet

Most schools do not expect you to know exactly what you want to do, nor are your responses here binding. While your goal should be to discuss something tangible (a career path, a mission, etc), you don’t need to establish a specific timeline or plan for how you plan to achieve those goals. There are a few exceptions to this (NYU Long Island requires you to specify which residency you want to go into), so just be sure to double check the specifics of the medical school you’re writing the essay for.

Create a story that grows out of your experiences and values

The admissions committee should be able to read your application, learn about your experiences and values, and say, “oh that makes sense” when they read about your goals. If a huge portion of your experiences include community outreach and you have limited research experience, it’d turn a few heads if you then write about wanting to do biomedical or translational research. Medical school essays are about storytelling; your personal growth and motivations are the key players in that story, so your goals should be a natural extension of the story you are trying to tell.

Customize it to the school.

One of the key goals of this essay is also to demonstrate that your passions and goals are a good fit for the school you’re applying to. It’s worth spending a reasonable amount of time (at least 30 minutes) to researching ongoing initiatives, specific programs, research centers, etc. at the school and its affiliated hospitals to see what opportunities there are that are aligned with your goals. Medical schools look for students who will help enrich and drive their learning environment, so being able to mention specific unique aspects of their program help make you stand out. In the long run, being aware of aspects of the school that you think will uniquely benefit your own training will also be instrumental for helping you choose which school you want to go to.

In Summary

The “goals in medicine” essay plays an essential role in establishing who you are and how you might contribute to the medical school’s environment. Keeping in mind the points described will help you craft a response that’s unique to your personal experiences and stand out amongst other applicants. Good luck! 

Comments

topicTopics
academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT expository writing college admissions English MD/PhD admissions GMAT LSAT GRE writing strategy chemistry physics math biology ACT graduate admissions language learning law school admissions test anxiety interview prep MBA admissions academic advice premed homework help personal statements AP exams career advice creative writing MD study schedules summer activities Common Application history test prep philosophy computer science secondary applications organic chemistry economics supplements PSAT admissions coaching grammar law statistics & probability psychology ESL research 1L CARS SSAT covid-19 legal studies logic games reading comprehension dental admissions mathematics USMLE Spanish calculus engineering parents Latin verbal reasoning DAT case coaching excel mentorship political science French Linguistics Tutoring Approaches academic integrity chinese AMCAS DO MBA coursework PhD admissions Social Advocacy admissions advice biochemistry classics diversity statement genetics geometry kinematics medical school mental health quantitative reasoning skills time management Anki English literature IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs algebra algorithms art history artificial intelligence astrophysics athletics business business skills careers cold emails data science internships letters of recommendation poetry presentations resume science social sciences software engineering study abroad tech industry trigonometry work and activities 2L 3L Academic Interest DMD EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python STEM Sentence Correction Step 2 TMDSAS Zoom acids and bases amino acids analysis essay architecture argumentative writing brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets cell biology central limit theorem chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum demonstrated interest dental school distance learning electricity and magnetism enrichment european history executive function finance first generation student freewriting fun facts functions gap year genomics harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law induction information sessions institutional actions integrated reasoning intern international students investing investment banking lab reports logic mandarin chinese mba mechanical engineering medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis music music theory neurology neuroscience office hours operating systems organization pedagogy phrase structure rules plagiarism pre-dental proofs pseudocode psych/soc quantum mechanics resistors resonance revising scholarships school selection simple linear regression slide decks sociology software stem cells stereochemistry study spots synthesis teaching technical interviews transfer typology units virtual interviews writer's block writing circles