How would you contribute diversity to our medical school?

diversity statement interview prep MD/PhD admissions medical school admissions

a tribute o my frinds since grade school-Feb-16-2021-10-24-50-21-PMDuring the MD admissions process, this question is often dreaded, as applicants reminisce on the mundaneness of premed requirements and volunteer experiences. As with questions of, "What are your strengths?", "Why should we accept you?", and "What makes you unique?", applicants may fear coming off too arrogant and self-promoting. In all these questions, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of how you would add to the medical school class and what unique perspectives you can bring. Instead of dreading this question, take this as an opportunity to highlight something that may not be apparent in your application or to emphasize what drives you and all that you've accomplished!

What is diversity?

Diversity is multidimensional, and everyone can contribute diversity to a class. If you are struggling to determine how you would contribute diversity, consider some of the various dimensions of diversity and ask yourself the following questions:

Your identity

  • What is your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion?
  • Did you immigrate to the US? Did your parents immigrate? Are you a first-generation college student?  

Your passion

  • What drives you to pursue medicine? What do you want to do in your career? (E.g. Do you want to be a primary care physician taking care of underserved communities? Do you want to lead a research lab to develop new therapies for multiple sclerosis?)  

Your experiences

  • Was your college major unique? You don't have to have majored in 19th century costume design to consider your major unique. If you majored in something non-science, you can explain why you chose that major and what you learned from your courses.
  • Did you participate in any volunteer, clinical, or work experience that changed your perspective of the world and what you're passionate about?
  • Do you have any personal experiences where you felt like an outsider, whether in your neighborhood, school, or broader community? How did that shape your understanding of diversity?

How to approach this question

  1. Make a list of the ways in which your past experiences, who you are, and the way you think adds a unique perspective.
  2. If one of the main reasons why you think you are unique is because of your experiences, reflect on why you chose to pursue those experiences and what you got out of them. 
  3. Research the school and see what they offer. How can your uniqueness contribute to that school specifically? How can you grow from whatever programs that school offers? Are you excited to work with the patient population that the school/hospital serves?
  4. Pick 2-3 ways in which you are unique and how that fits in with the school's objectives. Hone in on those to make your argument of how you contribute diversity. You do NOT need to present your 10 different reasons for why you'd contribute diversity. 

Keep in mind that a good answer should touch upon:

  • What is unique about your identity and experiences and how this makes you a strong applicant.
  • How your uniqueness would benefit from what this medical school has to offer.
  • How your uniqueness would contribute to the med school class.
  • How your uniqueness drives your passion and goals. 

As with all interview questions, the most important thing is to be genuine and to have fun! There is no one right or wrong answer so take this opportunity to really reflect on your story and your goals. 

Connie holds a BA in Neurobiology from Harvard (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an MSc from Oxford, and an MD from Harvard Medical School. She will be doing her dermatology residency at the Harvard Combined Dermatology Program.


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