Essay Medical School Secondary

Part 4: The “Why Us?” Secondary Essay

Example "Why Us?" Essay Prompts

Example 1: “What makes LLUSM particularly attractive to you?” (Loma Linda University School of Medicine)

Example 2: “How will becoming a Creighton educated physician enable you to achieve your lifetime goals and/or aspirations?” (Creighton University School of Medicine)

"Why Us?" Essay Background

These are everyone’s favorite prompts (I wish my sarcasm could jump through the screen).

The first step to writing an effective “Why us?” essay is to restrain yourself from writing about how great their medical school is or where it's located.

Glad that’s out of the way.

Consider why admissions committees want you to answer this question. After all, they know you’re applying to many other schools and that your GPA and MCAT scores are at least reasonably close to their admission averages (learn Where to Apply to Medical School to Maximize Admissions Odds).

Admissions committees read thousands of essays annually and want to know that you’ve considered them for reasons beyond the obvious (location, prestige, average GPA and MCAT, etc.).

By integrating your qualities, experiences, and aspirations with their specific mission, programs, and resources, you will have a unique opportunity to demonstrate "fit" in your application. Don’t take this for granted!

"Why Us?" Essay Misconception 1: “I should just read a school’s mission statement and research available resources on their website, and then rewrite the same information in essay form.”

The vast majority of students approach the “Why us?” essay this way, so it won’t make your response seem very special.

I basically see the expanded version of the following essay 90+% of the time:

“I want to go to [School Name] because of their wonderful [program name] and incredible [resources]. {Program] cultivates [attribute] that helps their students become great physicians. In addition, [resources] provide support to help students reach their potential.”

You should be able to see how this essay says nothing about why YOU want to go to their school.

Moreover, medical schools already know about all of the programs and resources they offer, so you wouldn’t be providing much value through your writing.

The better approach to this essay would be to look through schools’ websites to find programs and resources that actually interest you and to identify what each school keeps boasting about (e.g., perhaps they mention diversity or early clinical experience multiple times on their homepage). Then, consider:

  • How YOUR experiences fit with their offerings
  • What YOU could contribute
  • How YOU would uniquely benefit from their program

For example, if a school focuses a lot on community service and you have similar experiences, mention that. In addition, let the school know how you want to further focus your skills while there. On the other hand, if you have a more research heavy background and are applying to the same school, you could either focus on research or discuss how community service will make you a more well-rounded physician. The more specific you can be, the better.

"Why Us?" Essay Misconception 2: “There’s no other way to find out information about a medical school than by reading their site.”

Looking at a school’s website and demonstrating fit is certainly a tried-and-true approach to answering "Why us?" essay prompts, but it isn’t the only one.

To really impress admissions committees, you could integrate information from current students or recent alumni into your response. Ask these individuals whether they would be willing to share their experiences attending a particular school, and also whether you would be a good fit there given your background and goals.

How do you find these people? The easiest people to contact are those you know personally or through a mutual acquaintance. Otherwise, you could contact a school’s administrative staff and ask whether they could connect you to a current student. While this requires additional work, it will be well worth it for your top school preferences.

If you have to contact a stranger, use the following email template:

“Dear [Student Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name}, and I am currently completing my med school applications. I’m especially interested in attending [School Name] and am therefore hoping to get some more information about the program. [School Name]'s admissions committee gave me your email address as someone who could help me out.

I'd really appreciate it if you would spare 15-20 minutes to answer 3-5 quick questions in the upcoming days. If so, please let me know some days and times that are most convenient for you, your time zone, and the best number to reach you. I’ll do my best to accommodate.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Looking forward to hearing from you soon!


[Your Name]

Sample "Why Us?" Essay

(Note: All identifying details have been changed.)

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Throughout my undergrad years, I’ve found that working hard to involve myself with others and their unique perspectives is one of the most productive ways in which I can learn. For example, I used to believe that illnesses were just a set of tangible symptoms that resulted solely from maladaptive genes. However, after working closely with families in Boston's inner city, I have come to realize how racial, physical, and social factors, such as a lack of access to fresh produce or primary health services, can influence the likelihood of disease. As I obtained a broader understanding of the many factors that contribute to health, I find myself asking new questions and wanting to learn more. How can we properly assess a community’s needs and design appropriate solutions? How can an understanding of sociocultural factors be used to heal current patients and prevent new ones? I believe that the answers to these questions and others will come from the Community Health Program at the University of Washington (UW). The year-round lecture series on topics, such as “Health Disparities: An Unequal World's Biggest Challenge,” will allow me to engage closely with faculty and students to work towards developing holistic community-based solutions. Furthermore, the UW PEERS clinic and Friends of UW provide an opportunity to work closely with urban Seattle neighborhoods similar to those I have worked with in Boston. Having connected with a range of Boston families, varying in age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity, I have improved my sense of self-awareness and cultural sensitivity, attributes I hope to continue developing with the surrounding Seattle community. I am confident that UW and the Community Health Program can further prepare me to be a physician who not only improves the lives of individual patients, but also addresses the needs of entire communities.


Final Thoughts

Secondary applications will likely be one of the most time-consuming, stressful, and exhausting parts of your application process (the other is the medical school admission interview circuit if you’re fortunate to receive multiple invitations).

Nevertheless, you should give yourself some breaks to recharge so that you never rush submissions for the sake of rolling admissions and sacrifice quality.

Like every other piece of written material you submit, aim not only to answer the prompt, but also to give admissions committees deeper insights into what makes YOU so great for their school specifically.


Enjoyed this article? Get the FREE guide we use to help over 90% of our students get into med school—the first time.

How to Quickly Write the Strongest
Secondary Application Essays

If you’re thinking about the secondary application, chances are you’ve done just about everything you need to do to get your primary application (AMCAS) in on time.

Transcripts are in, letters of rec are in, personal statement written, and AMCAS filled out. Whew! Nicely done. It took YEARS of work to get to this point, and you should be proud. But you’re not done yet, nope!

Just when you thought you had poured all of your heart out into your personal statement, medical schools send you a second round of essays for you to bang out as fast as you can.

You Have a Huge Pile of Secondaries to Complete And
You Already Know That Time is of The Essence

Your Secondaries

Most medical schools will send you about 2-3 additional essays to write, and you’re a premed, not a journalist — you want to be a medical expert and help people.

Writing might not be your passion or your strongest skill, so coming up with yet another round of essays is a big hassle. And it’s a hassle that you need to finish in only a few days if you want to be as competitive as possible.

You Need to Return Your Secondaries in Only a Few Days — But How?

You have 1 week to complete your secondary essays. Ready, GO!

You will dramatically improve your chances if you quickly return your secondaries to medical schools. How quickly? I recommend submitting completed secondaries 2 days after receiving them. Read on to learn how that’s possible.

But there’s just not a whole lot of information out there about the medical school secondaries that tells you what schools are looking for or how to give them what they want. A lot of premeds shoot in the dark, and their lack of preparation shows in their “bleh” secondary application essays.

One big problem — premeds like to dig deep into their pasts and unearth old experiences that don’t connect to their core themes and goals.

Applicants who don’t know what to talk about talk about everything and anything, and they come across like madmen who can’t focus.

Learn How to Respond to the Common Medical School Secondary Essay Prompts Better And Faster Than Everyone Else

I’ve gone through massive lists of secondary application prompts and I’ve made a huge discovery about the secondary, a secret that only my private premed clients have had access to until now, a technique that will dramatically reduce how much time it takes to complete the secondary essays.

I discovered that of all the hundreds of different secondary prompts, each of the prompts falls into one of 10 categories that I call “Super Prompts.” These essay prompts are so similar that you could write all of your secondaries right now, based only on my list of the “Super Prompts.” The “Super Prompts” are going to save you a ton of time.

With my list of secondary “Super Prompts” in hand, you won’t have to write dozens of different essays!

I’ve created a series of 10 videos that teach you everything you need to know about how to write the medical school secondary and be the most attractive candidate out there.

Most premeds go through the secondary essays blind — so if you prepare yourself by learning how to write the best secondary essays and get them in quickly, you’re way ahead of your competition.

Get The Only Online Video Course For Secondaries:
“How to Write the Medical School Secondary Application”

I used to charge my premed clients lots of money to coach them through the secondary prompts, and now all my expertise on secondaries is now inside my online course ready for you to use from home at a very affordable price.

“How to Write the Medical School Secondary Application” Answers the Most Important Questions:

  • Should you bring up new topics, or expand on your personal statement/AMCAS?
  • Should talk about bad grades or MCAT scores in your secondaries?
  • How is it possible to write so many essays quickly and make them really good?
  • ​Do you really need to write unique secondary essays for each school, or can you re-use them?
  • How do you write a compelling answer to: “Why do you want to attend [name of school?”
  • What do you say in the “Is there anything else you want to tell us?” section?

I highly recommend that you start working on your med school secondaries as soon as you get them — the sooner you return them to medical schools, the higher chances of acceptance are. “How to Write the Medical School Secondary Application” will help you to quickly turn in great secondary essays.

Enroll in "How to Write Your Medical School Secondary Application" Today!

This online video course will teach you how to quickly and persuasively write your medical school secondary application essays. It includes my master list of “Super Prompts” and training videos that show you the best way to respond to each prompt.

Get instant online access for only $97!

Course Review – Doug Doehrman, MD From

When You Enroll Now, You Get:

  • My complete guide to “Super Prompts:” The secondary prompts that you’ll face, and how to tackle them.
  • A Video Series on how to write your secondaries — you can get thru the 10 videos in under two hours and complete your secondaries in only one day.
  • Tricks to write impressive secondaries quickly, so you can turn them in before anyone else.
  • Links I’ve found all over the web listing the secondary prompts.
  • It’s an ALL-ONLINE course — nothing will be shipped to you, so you'll get instant access to everything

Frequently Asked Questions About This Course

Q: What is “How to Write the Medical School Secondary Application?”
A: It’s an all-online course covering everything you need to know to quickly write amazing medical school secondaries — you’ll be able to finish your secondaries in about one day.

Q: What does the course include?
A: 10 Videos (you can watch them on my site), a PDF of the “Super Prompt” list of essays and best responses. (It’s ALL DIGITAL — nothing will be shipped to you)

Q: How will this course help me write my secondaries?
A: The videos and “Super Prompt” guide give you the tips, tricks, do’s and dont’s of writing secondary essays. See an example “spyshot” of a page from the pdf below to see what it’s all about:

Enroll in "How to Write Your Medical School Secondary Application" Today!

This online video course will teach you how to quickly and persuasively write your medical school secondary application essays. It includes my master list of “Super Prompts” and training videos that show you the best way to respond to each prompt.

Get instant online access for only $97!

If You Want Medical Schools to be Impressed By Your Secondaries, You Need to Know This:

  • The common secondary essay prompts — and the best way to respond to each of them
  • What to talk about in each essay, and how to continue the theme of your personal statement
  • How to make yourself appear well-rounded without being unfocused and scattered
  • How to answer the “Why do you want to come to this school?” question, even when you don’t know why
  • How to convincingly tell medical schools, “You’re my #1 choice!”

"How to Write Your Medical School Secondary Application"
Learn What Medical Schools Want and Write Great Essays Faster

Enroll in the Online Course to Get:

  • How to answer the top secondary prompts
  • Writing tricks and techniques that will help you to return your secondaries to med schools within only 24 – 48 hours
  • What not to say: Cliches and mistakes to avoid
  • An all-online video course with PDF supplement

You can get the entire course - The “Super Prompts” guide and the Video Series -- for just $97 !

The biggest benefit of this course: After you’ve written your 14 Master Secondary essays, you’ll have written all of your essays.

“I’ve looked through his course content personally and can tell you that I really love the advice he gives.

Don’s got many years of admissions experience; he has had several medical school admissions committee members on his staff, including one dean of admissions of a major Chicago medical school, and he’s spoken to groups of premed advisers about his experiences as an adviser. He stands by his courses, so if you have any problems, be sure you reach out to him. He’s a good guy and will take care of you.”

Doug Doehrman, MD

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