Duke School of Medicine Secondary Essay Prompts

These are the secondary application essay prompts for Duke University School of Medicine. To put your best foot forward and maximize your chance of an interview invitation, visit our secondary application editing page.

2018-2019

1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. 500 words

Choose 1-3 components of this prompt (self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics) which are particularly unique for you and help define you as a person. Brainstorm how these unique traits affect your personal values and influence your desire to be a physician. One component of this question which is crucial to answer is how will these traits help you interface with similar and dissimilar people. Answer this specifically. It may be helpful to use examples of each during which you have been successful in the past, or times that you have been unsuccessful and learned a lesson.

2. (Optional) In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. 200 words

This question is difficult to answer without overlap with question #1 above. One way to do this would be to answer in #1 how these traits inform your ability to interact with diverse people such as patients and colleagues. On the flip side, you can answer in #2 how your personal values or defining characteristics influence your overall desire to become a physician and your goals within the medical world.

3. Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? 500 words

To answer this question, first describe your background and living environment. Paint a picture of the people and circumstances surrounding you in your youth, perhaps with an anecdote. Then choose 1-2 key values which were influential to you and help inform your desire to be a doctor. Consider the following core values: togetherness and family connection, compassion for those in need, interpersonal connection, hard work, discipline, altruism, curiosity and passion for learning. The last component which may be the hardest to answer is what to improve about the environment. Try to think of a shortcoming of your environment which did not allow you or those around you to grow and flourish as you might in another scenario. How might one correct this If you are able to identify a possible improvement, you can transform this answer into a positive one.

4. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? 500 words

Duke demonstrates with this question that they really value diversity and being a champion for diverse and underrepresented populations. Think back to an experience which may fit this scenario. Perhaps you worked with homeless or underpriveleged communities and have a clear answer. If not, you may have to be more creative. Was there a time during which you had to stand up for someone whom you might not otherwise interact with? Use this anecdote to discuss the physician role as educator and advocate for the patient. This is a large responsibility for a doctor, to use their knowledge and resources to empower their patients and help them better themselves.

5. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? 500 words

Brainstorm experiences or accomplishments which were particularly formative. Think of a scenario in which you overcame particular adversity. Tie the experience to what lesson it taught you and how it made you encounter your own limitations, and was thereby humbling. Then focus on what skill or trait you gained that made you a stronger person. Be humble; do not emphasize our tout your personal excellence but rather show your introspection and personal growth.

6. Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. 500 words

Choose an experience during which you worked hard and strived for greatness but did not achieve the outcome you desired. Focus on an experience that can demonstrate a learning experience or growth as a person. Make sure this does not overlap with #5 above.

7. Critical thinking involves many aspects including curiosity, comprehension, application and analysis. Describe a time when you have utilized critical thinking. How do you anticipate critical thinking being used as part of your career? 400 words

Strong answers to this question may include experiences in the following categories:

  • Working with a team on a project which required collaboration, and finding a way to bridge the gap between different opinions on how to solve a problem
  • A unique idea or method to study and answer a research question in your lab or clinical research
  • Crafting a solution to a problem or improving on existing system that are in place in a previous job, student organization, etc. This would be analogous to the concept of quality improvement which is very important in medicine

Connect an experience in this category to a skill it helped you develop which will allow critical thinking as a physician, which is important for team collaboration, research, quality improvement (all fields similar to the experiences listed above).

8. Many view medical care as an undeniable right. What responsibility does the medical profession have in taking care of all persons? 400 words

Medicine is a unique field in that we strive to care for any and all persons in need, regardless of any ethnic, educational, or socioeconomic factor. This is something all physicians should likely at least believe in principle, so try to coincide with this opinion in your answer. Relevant economic and philosophy concepts to look into to craft your answer might include social justice and resource allocation. Focus on benefiting patients and providing to those in need.

9. (Optional) Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application:

Answer this question as appropriate with a unique paragraph that does not repeat any of your prior answers.

2017-2018

Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? 600 words

Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? 600 words

What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? 600 words

What qualities will you bring to the practice of medicine? 600 words

Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. 600 words

What role has research had in your preparation for medicine? 250 words

2016-2017

Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words)

Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words)

What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (600 words)

Describe an experience when you were confronted with an individual or group whose values differ from yours? How did you resolve the conflict/ challenge? Describe at least one outcome that the experience created.

Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (600 words)

Additional prompts for those pursuing the Primary Care Leadership Track:
Describe a successful leader. What type of leadership skills do you want to cultivate in your training experience and how do you envision doing that? 250 words

Have you engaged with community in the past? How do you hope to understand and impact communities in the future? 250 words

Disclaimer: The information on this page was shared by students and/or can be found on the medical school’s website. Med School Insiders does not guarantee the accuracy of the information on this page.

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