University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine Secondary Essay Prompts

These are the secondary application essay prompts for University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill School of Medicine. To put your best foot forward and maximize your chance of an interview invitation, visit our secondary application editing page.


1. We have all tried something and failed. Describe a situation, or an experience, you’ve had when you were unsuccessful. Tell us what you learned from this experience.

Choose an experience during which you worked hard and strived for greatness but did not achieve the outcome you desired. Think of times of adversity which required particular perseverance but still resulted in failure. Show humility and an understanding of your limitations. Focus on how this was a learning experience or demonstrate how this helped you grow as a person. What tangible skills did you gain during this experience despite the lack of ultimate attainment of your goal. How will you use those skills to be an effective future physician?

2. Much of health care delivery involves teamwork. In what endeavor have you engaged that required a team approach? What was your role and what did you learn from working with this team?

This is a great question in that it is absolutely applicable to medicine. As much as any other field, medicine requires teamwork. Each day physicians collaborate with nurses, with allied medical professionals such as pharmacists and physicians’ assistants, and most of all with their patients. All of these components require significant teamwork skills. Think of a unique time when you worked in a team effectively. Choose an occasion where you took a leadership role. Using an anecdote can be effective. Consider prior job experience, work in extracurricular groups, or other endeavors. Show that you were an effective leader, but also that you were humble and willing to adapt and work with people whose opinions differed from your own.

3. Give an example of how you made a difference in someone’s life and explain what this experience taught you about yourself.

This will require thinking of an anecdote which you did not already cover in the primary application. Perhaps you have a patient encounter other than those you may have described in the primary. An alternative approach though, to make this more unique, is a time when you helped someone outside of medicine. Perhaps it was a friend, a foe or even someone you hardly knew. Be sure to answer what you learned about yourself. How does this influence your desire to become a physician and help your patients?

4. What motivates you to apply to UNC School of Medicine?

The first step to answering this question is doing some research on the program website to understand some of its nuances. Is it very strong in a particular field of research, or perhaps in community clinical work for the underserved? If one of these aspects aligns with your strengths or interests, explain how you are a great fit for this reason. Outline how these opportunities will help you grow toward your career goals as you envision them. Think about the opportunities the location provides in terms of clinical experience and social experience as well.

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Applicants for the MD and MD/PhD Program Respond to prompts 1-3 in no more than 1-2 paragraphs. (1000 character limit)

Prompt 1: We have all tried something and failed, whether it was something big or something small. Describe a situation or an experience you had when you realized that you were not up to the task, and tell us what life-lessons you learned from this experience.

Prompt 2: Much of medical school education is based on team-learning. What important activity have you accomplished that required a team approach, what was your role in the outcome, and what did you learn from it?

Prompt 3: Give an example of how you made a difference in someone’s life-whether it is a patient, friend, classmate, or a family member-and explain what this experience taught you about yourself.


The secondary application essay prompts from this medical school application cycle are the same as above.

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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