UC San Diego School of Medicine Secondary Essay Prompts

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

about University of California San Diego School of Medicine

Secondary Deadline: For “regular M.D.” applicants the deadline for submitting the secondary application is one month from the date on which you received this invitation (e.g. if you receive the email on August 8, your deadline is September 8)
Secondary Fee: $105
FAP Waiver: Full Fee Waived
CASPer Required: No
Screens Applications: Yes
Accepts Application Updates: Yes Post Interview Waitlist

Mission 

Our mission at the School of Medicine is to provide cutting edge resources and education to our students so they may grow into innovative and compassionate physicians, focused on providing superior medical care to the global community.

As educators, we are driven to build on our exceptional biomedical, behavioral and health services and research experience. We are at the forefront of new technology and strive to push the boundaries of the art of medicine through education and the preparation of future physicians.

2023-2024

1. This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. Please note: if you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are specifically interested in seeking MD/PhD training at UCSD. (6000 characters)

2. (OPTIONAL) Please describe how educational disparity, health disparity and/or marginalization has impacted you and your community? (4800 characters)

3. On your AMCAS Application, you were asked to identify your three “most meaningful” experiences. These activities have been auto-filled in your secondary application. In addition to the information you provided on the AMCAS application, we would like to know if there are any additional activities you would consider among your most meaningful. This may include activities that you’ve already completed but couldn’t include as you were limited to three selections on the AMCAS application, or it may include a new activity that began after your initial AMCAS application was submitted. Use the “Add” button below to enter a new activity. We would also like to know if a letter of recommendation has been submitted on your behalf by somebody you worked with through this experience. If you do not have a letter from this experience, simply type N/A. This information allows Admissions Committee members reviewing your application to more readily match your letters to your experiences and thus facilitates the review of your application. DO NOT LIST ANY ACTIVITY MORE THAN ONCE. (100 character description for each activity you add)

4. Some medical school applicants are already focused on pursuing a particular career pathway in medicine. While many students will change from this pathway during medical school, knowing of your potential interests does help us to assign interviewers. Your choice below does not influence how the Admissions Committee selects students to interview.
Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals: (400 characters)

  • Academic Medicine (Working as a faculty member at a School of Medicine either as a clinician, a clinician-educator, or a clinician investigator. This could be in any field of medicine)
  • Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)
  • Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)
  • Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a subspecialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anaesthesiologist, radiologist)
  • Other/undecided

 

Essays for Special Programs:

1. The goals of PRIME – HEq are: To increase the number of clinicians, research scientists, and advocates addressing minority health and health disparities; to create a diverse community of scholars that develop, transmit, and apply new knowledge in minority health and health disparities; and to promote a multidisciplinary community/university partnership to eliminate health disparities. The program utilizes existing opportunities to allow enrollees to obtain a master’s degree emphasizing minority health and health disparities, tailored to student’s interest (MPH, MBA, MAS, MS) Applicants indicating an interest in PRIME are required to write an additional essay detailing their qualifications and reasons for interest in the program. Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 characters)

2. Applicants to the UCSD School of Medicine may apply for admission to the GHAC. This track is available to five medical students per class per year, and will provide mentored research and clinical experiences in Global Health. The GHAC has four goals: 1) to prepare young physicians to engage with the global community to address health disparities; 2) to provide experiences and training in academic Global Health research; 3) to provide field experiences in Global Health delivery; and 4) to facilitate education about structural and social factors that create and propagate health disparities. Students in this concentration will undertake an additional curriculum that exposes them to Global Health topics throughout all four years of medical school. This track is appropriate for applicants hoping to pursue an academic medical career in Global Health. Students accepted into the GHAC will be provided with financial support for two international rotations (up to $5000 for both). Applicants interested in applying for the GHAC are required to write an additional essay detailing their qualifications and reasons for interest in this program. Please describe your interest in Global Health. The term Global Health can have many meanings; for our purposes, we find the definition provided by Koplan et. al. in their 2009 Lancet publication useful: “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. In your essay, be sure to describe any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how Global Health issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. (4800 characters)

3. Applicants to the UCSD School of Medicine may apply for admission to the Program in Medicine – Transforming Indigenous Doctor Education (PRIME-TIDE), which is available to six medical students per class per year. The educational objectives of the PRIME-TIDE are to: 1) teach medical students the appropriate management and treatment of diseases common in AI/AN communities with a focus on culturally sensitive care via a mentored clinical experience in local, regional or national tribally-operated Indian Health Service (IHS) ambulatory clinics; 2) understand the opportunities for community-based research with AI/AN communities through the California Native American Research Center for Health (CA-NARCH); 3) engage in preventive medicine and public health in a tribal healthcare setting; and 4) understand the social, environmental, economic and political issues related to providing healthcare to tribal communities, as well as the limitations/adaptations to the delivery of IHS care. These objectives will be met by completing didactic coursework, as well as mentored research and clinical experiences. (4800 characters)

2022-2023

1. This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine, including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable.

Please note: if you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are specifically interested in seeking MD/PhD training at UCSD. (6000 char)

2. Some medical school applicants are already focused on pursuing a particular career pathway in medicine. While many students will change from this pathway during medical school, knowing of your potential interests does help us to assign interviewers. Your choice below does not influence how the Admissions Committee selects students to interview.
Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals: (400 char)
  • Academic Medicine (Working as a faculty member at a School of Medicine either as a clinician, a clinician-educator, or a clinician investigator. This could be in any field of medicine)
  • Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)
  • Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)
  • Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a subspecialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anaesthesiologist, radiologist)
  • Other/undecided 3. If you are an out-of-state applicant, please let us know if there are specific reasons for your interest in the UCSD School of Medicine (1000 characters)
Program specific:
A) For PRIME-HEq: Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 char)

B) For GHAC: Please describe your interest in Global Health. The term Global Health can have many meanings; for our purposes, we find the definition provided by Koplan et. al. in their 2009 Lancet publication useful: “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. In your essay, be sure to describe any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how Global Health issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. (4800 char)

C) For PRIME-TIDE: Please describe your experiences with American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, including the type of community and your level of involvement. Please provide the length of time you spent working in or exposed to these communities. Be sure to detail any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how American Indian and Alaskan Native issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine.

Finally, please delineate how completion of the PRIME-TIDE program will help you obtain your medical education goals. (4800 char)

2021-2022

1. Autobiographical Sketch:
This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine, including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable.

Please note: If you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are specifically interested in seeking MD/PhD training at UCSD.

2. Possible Career Pathway:
Some medical school applicants are already focused on pursuing a particular career pathway in medicine. While many students will change from this pathway during medical school, knowing of your potential interests does help us to assign interviewers. Your choice below does not influence how the Admissions Committee selects students to interview.

Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals:

  • Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)
  • Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)
  • Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a sub-specialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anesthesiologist, radiologist)
  • Other/undecided

2020-2021

1. Autobiographical Sketch:
This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine, including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. (6,000 characters max)

2. Experiences: The three experiences you identified as “most meaningful” on your AMCAS Application are listed below.

We would also like to know if you have had any NEW experiences that you would consider among your “most meaningful” (i.e. experiences you’ve had in the time between submitting your application to AMCAS and working on the secondary application).
Adding new experiences is optional. You can add new activities using the fields below. A corresponding letter of recommendation for the new experience is not required.

Please enter “N/A” in the “Author of corresponding letter of recommendation” field if you do not have a letter. If you do not have any new activities to add, you can simply click “Save and Continue” at the bottom of the page and this section of the application will be marked as complete. (100 characters max)

3. Possible Career Pathway: Some medical school applicants are already focused on pursuing a particular career pathway in medicine. While many students will change from this pathway during medical school, knowing of your potential interests does help us to assign interviewers. Your choice below does not influence how the Admissions Committee selects students to interview.

Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals (400 characters max):

  • Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)
  • Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)
  • Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a sub-specialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anesthesiologist, radiologist)
  • Other/undecided

2019-2020

1. Autobiographical Sketch:
This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. (6000 char)

2. Prime-HEq (Optional): Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 char)

3. Global Health Academic Concentration (Optional): Please describe your interest in Global Health. The term Global Health can have many meanings; for our purposes, we find the definition provided by Koplan et. al. in their 2009 Lancet publication useful: “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. In your essay, be sure to describe any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how Global Health issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. (4800 char)

4. MAS in Clinical Research (Optional): Please describe your interest in the MAS-Clinical Research program. Topics to include are your previous experience with clinical and/or translational research, your role within the research group, and what you envision for a career that includes clinical and/or translational research. A letter of recommendation from the individual supervising your previous experience is helpful but not required. (4800 char)

5. Possible Career Pathway: Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals. (400 char)

  • Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)
  • Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)
  • Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a sub-specialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anesthesiologist, radiologist)
  • Other/undecided

2018-2019

1. Autobiographical Sketch: This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. (6000 char)

This is one of the more unique secondary prompts and not an easy one to answer. It is always tough to write about yourself. The key here is to not repeat the personal statement or primary application. The admissions committee already has all that info, so now you need to bring something new. Treat this as an actual autobiography, detailing the major parts of your life from beginning until present time. Start with an outline; this is key. Do not focus on medical events and experiences, as these were likely not as important until recent years of your life. Make it creative and true to yourself. Let your voice come out in the writing. In the end, if you can tie things together to create a theme as to why you are a good fit to become a doctor, that would be a great outcome. Do this subtly and do not make it the whole focus of your sketch.

2. Please note: if you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are seeking the MD/PhD training at UCSD.

Do specific research on UCSD and its strengths. For example, UCSD has a particularly robust neurosciences department and there is lots of great research going on at UCSD and some surrounding research institutions. Find the specifics of your interests and how they will fit into the UCSD climate. If you are applying for an MD/PhD, you have probably already thought about this thoroughly.

If applicable:

3. Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 char)

This is a very personal question, the answer to which will vary for each applicant. Many may have cultural or family experiences which are informative. Others will have different reasons. Be yourself and let your ideals shine in this question. Research the training provided by the UCSD PRIME-HEq program and give specifics on how this will help you achieve your goals. This will show you have thought intelligently about this decision and how you fit well with the program. In San Diego in particular, experience with spanish-speaking populations may be key and could be informative to your goals. If you have such experiences, let them shine.

4. Please describe your interest in Global Health. The term Global Health can have many meanings; for our purposes, we find the definition provided by Koplan et. al. in their 2009 Lancet publication useful: “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. In your essay, be sure to describe any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how Global Health issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. (4800 char)

Consider past experiences you have had abroad, such as medical mission trips or other clinical work in foreign countries. Describe how these experiences have shaped your goals, and how you plan to gain the skills necessary to pursue those goals in the future.

5. Please describe your interest in the MAS-Clinical Research program. Topics to include are your previous experience with clinical and/or translational research, your role within the research group, and what you envision for a career that includes clinical and/or translational research. A letter of recommendation from the individual supervising your previous experience is helpful but not required. (4800 char)

This questions is relatively self-explanatory. Talk in detail about your prior research experiences, your specific roles, the skills you learned, and the outcomes such as abstracts, papers, or presentations. Discuss your area of research interest and what skills you would like to gain going forward.

6. Have you been convicted of a crime/arrested? If yes, provide details concerning the date and place of arrest, the nature of the offense and the sentence and/or fine imposed. (500 char)

Describe such an issue honestly. Be sure to explain the lesson you learned from it.

7. Some medical school applicants are already focused on pursuing a particular career pathway in medicine. While many students will change from this pathway during medical school, knowing of your potential interests does help us to assign interviewers. Your choice below does not influence how the Admissions Committee selects students to interview. Please select from one of career pathways listed below. In addition to this selection, please provide a brief description of your future career goals. (400 characters)
A) Academic Medicine (Working as a faculty member at a School of Medicine either as a clinician, a clinician-educator, or a clinician investigator. This could be in any field of medicine)

This is a common interest and pursuit for many medical professionals. Thus it makes good sense to express it as a possible future career focus if relevant to you. Most students interested in a big academic program like UCSD will have some academic interest in either education or research. Consider focusing on your specific research interest and listing whom you might work with at UCSD in that field. If interested more in medical education, explain why that is and how UCSD’s environment may help augment that.

B) Primary Care and/or work in underserved communities (Working as a general internist, a pediatrician, or a family medicine physician and/or spending the majority of your time working in a community currently underserved by the medical profession)

Consider discussing the PRIME-HEq program (in brief, as you have an answer above touching on this). UCSD has a great student-run free clinic which students have the opportunity to see patients at. Students can also be leaders/organizers of different specialty clinics at the free clinic, and this is a great opportunity to expand one’s clinical and leadership skills while serving the community. Work this into your answer. You may also consider discussing using, expanding or developing your Spanish language skills as this is a large component of treating underserved communities in San Diego.

C) Public Health, administrative leadership in medicine (Pursuing an MPH and/or working for a public health department or organization; working in health care policy; working as a hospital administrator)

Many UCSD students choose to pursue an MPH at schools such as Harvard. You may consider mentioning this strong track record as something you may wish to follow. Dr. Robert Hertzka is a physician-politician who teaches an outstanding class on medical politics that you may mention if interested in this topic.

D) Specialist in private practice (Working in a private practice or managed care setting as a subspecialist. Examples include cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, obstetrician, orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, anaesthesiologist, radiologist)

DIscuss your particular area of interest and consider tieing it to your research interest in this field. You can mention specific research faculty or topics you may wish to pursue at UCSD. Discuss how a great education in a strong and diverse program will prepare you with the skills necessary to succeed in this practice setting.

E) Other/undecided

Whatever field of interest you may have, describe it honestly and demonstrate your passion for it. Discuss how this will affect your medical education goals as well as your future career.

2017-2018

1. Autobiographical Sketch: This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. (6000 char)

2. Please note: if you are applying to the MD/PhD program, please include why you are seeking the MD/PhD training at UCSD.

If applicable:

3. Please describe your interest in the PRIME-HEq program. Topics to include are longitudinal experiences that you’ve had with underserved communities, including the type of community that you’ve worked with and your level of involvement. Additionally, you should discuss the length of time that you’ve spent working in these communities. (4800 char)

4. Please describe your interest in Global Health. The term Global Health can have many meanings; for our purposes, we find the definition provided by Koplan et. al. in their 2009 Lancet publication useful: “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. In your essay, be sure to describe any personal or professional experiences that have shaped your interests, and how Global Health issues have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. (4800 char)

5. Please describe your interest in the MAS-Clinical Research program. Topics to include are your previous experience with clinical and/or translational research, your role within the research group, and what you envision for a career that includes clinical and/or translational research. A letter of recommendation from the individual supervising your previous experience is helpful but not required. (4800 char)

6. Have you been convicted of a crime/arrested? If yes, provide details concerning the date and place of arrest, the nature of the offense and the sentence and/or fine imposed: (500 char)

2016-2017

1. This should be a true autobiographical statement. Topics to be included are family, childhood, primary and secondary school years, undergraduate years, and, if applicable, what you’ve done since completing your bachelor’s degree. You should also discuss the motivational factors which led you to a career in medicine including any disadvantages or obstacles which might put your accomplishments into context. A repeat of your AMCAS statement will not be acceptable. (6000 characters)

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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