Like many other premed students, I found the question “Why should we accept you into our medical school?” Very difficult. How do you convince medical schools that they should take you over another student with similar qualifications?
The key is to be authentic. You want to express your experiences in a way that demonstrates to medical schools that you are one of a kind. You need to heavily examine yourself and tie these qualities that make you unique to the mission of the school.
I know that’s a lot easier said than done! But that is pretty much it in a nutshell.
It takes some work to really answer this common interview and essay question. But through years of experience interviewing people for my current job and previously getting into medical school, I can help you.
Keep reading for more in-depth explanations, tactics, and examples!
“Why Should We Accept You Into Our Medical School?” Secondary Essay Question
Most medical schools will have their own essay prompts on their secondary applications. Why should they accept you over another medical student with the same qualifications?
Once again, the key is to be authentic and demonstrate what makes you unique. Medical schools are looking for diverse students who will contribute to a more dynamic community. At the same time, you want to demonstrate who your values align with the school’s mission.
It can be difficult to figure out a medical school’s values without visiting it like you would during an interview. For your secondary essay, you will need to research it online.
Visit the medical school’s website first, they almost always have a mission statement. You can usually find this mission statement on the “about” page. That will give you a good idea of the kinds of students they are looking for.
For example, if you go to Texas A&M’s school of medicine about page, they will tell you exactly what their mission is:
- Serving the underserved in Texas with their “core values” of Texas A&M University. The core values are: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalties, respect, selfless service.
- Rural and population health
- Military medicine
So if you are applying to Texas A&M’s medical school and writing an essay about why they should accept you, it would be important to include experiences and qualities that line up with these mission statements.
Are you a Texas resident or strongly inclined to move to Texas long-term? Are you passionate about helping those less fortunate in rural Texas? Were you in the military or had family in the military? Have you shown innovation by leading an organization at your university or perhaps in your community at home?
Also, you can think about what you contribute to your current friend group in college. Hone in on traits that make you unique.
Finally, I want to address something very important for secondary essays in general. There is a temptation to simply copy and paste secondaries for different schools but don’t fall into this trap.
You can use previous essays as a template and copy certain parts of it, but you want your answer to be unique to the medical school you are applying to!
Is it okay to use your diversity essay to answer this question?
Yes, it is, and here is why. When medical schools ask you why you think you would be a good fit for them, they are really looking to see what makes you unique and add to the overall diversification of the school.
It is a well-known fact that a more diverse group of individuals are more innovative and make an environment that challenges students to be better.
Yes, you need to make sure you align with the school’s core values, but being unique is equally important.
“Why Should We Accept You Into Our Medical School?” Essay Example
Here is an example of an essay I refurbished from my diversity essay to answer this question:
As a diverse individual, I can contribute important values to your medical student community. My diversity ironically stems from my similarity to my parents. Both my parents grew up in Poland while it was under Soviet Communism. They lacked basic necessities that we take for granted today, such as washing machines, refrigerators, more than one pair of shoes, and even an adequately stocked grocery store.
At the time, you could not simply just leave Poland. My father had to obtain a temporary tourist visa to Sweden, and from there he could cross the border to Germany as a political refugee. From Germany, it was a clear shot to the United States. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for them to uproot their lives. Not only did they have the fear of being put in prison if they were sent back, but they had to adapt to a foreign country with only a suitcase in tow.
Both my parents instilled a sense of self-reliance in me. It was through their example that I learned that despite life throwing problems in my direction, it was my job to come up with solutions. No situation was going to make them lower their expectations of me. Growing up, I always knew my dad had a particular eye for detail. In Poland when something of his broke, it was gone forever, so he put a particular amount of care into keeping things pristine. Although as a child I found this to be annoying, in retrospect I can see how this has impacted how I contribute to a team environment. During my master’s program, there was a strong emphasis on team-based learning, so your grade depended on how well you could cooperate with other team members to complete a project or solve a problem within a time frame. Diversity in a setting like this was highly beneficial, as every member of the team had their own approach to how we tackled a problem. It was through this kind of collaboration that we had the greatest chance of success. I found that my attention to detail has helped put a new perspective on the way we approached certain problems. When taking a group quiz, we frequently saw problems were multiple answers seemed correct, and in these cases it was the minute details that differentiated the best answer. Though I’ll never admit it to my dad, I know I’ll carry this meticulous approach with me throughout my career. Hopefully I can share this unique perspective with my future classmates and peers.
“Why Should We Choose You?” Medical School Interview Question
A medical school interview can be a nerve-racking event and there is a strong motivation to “say what the medical school wants to hear.” But this is NOT what you want to do, especially when it comes to the question, “Why should we choose you?”
You want to be yourself! Much like how it’s important to be authentic when writing your secondary essay answering this question, it’s important that you are authentic during the interview.
What are your strengths and do you have experiences to back those up? What makes you unique? Get introspective and figure those things out.
Again, you will want to align your talents and values with the school’s core values, but don’t focus so much on this that your answer comes across as rehearst.
It’s also important that you demonstrate your interest in the school. Figure out specifically what interests you about that particular school and convey that strong desire to be part of it. Don’t be vague but rather point out explicitly what interests you.
An interview is much like dating. If the “date” doesn’t think you are interested, chances are it’s not going to go well. If you are coming across as stiff and reciting an answer from an index card, it won’t go well.
Remember, you are convincing the medical school that they should accept you over the hundreds of other candidates they interview. Think of how you are going to add to the educational environment at that school.
What are you going to contribute to the community and how are you going to be a part of that community? What is it about the school that interests you and why do you want to be a part of it?
“Why Should We Choose You?” Medical School Interview Example
Here is an example of how I would answer the question “Why should we accept you into our medical school?”
I got married as a premed student. During my hardest semester, my wife and I had a baby. This experience of being a new father while still juggling and intense workload instilled in my some qualities which I believe will benefit your school’s community. I learned to prioritize my time and not get overwhelmed when life gets in the way. I have also grown to understand that communities are important and I know when it’s important to ask for help.”
I’m also a licensed private pilot and through this experience I developed some really important qualities that were necessary to keep me alive. I learned that being decisive is essential and indecision can be dangerous. I also became really appreciative of the importance of leading and knowing how to follow. When you are commanding an airplane, it’s important that you can use your crew resources available and use others to help accomplish the overall goal. Also, when flying as a co pilot it’s important to follow instructions but also be prepared to speak up if you notice something is wrong and he or she doesn’t”
From these two examples, having a baby during school and being a general aviation pilot, I demonstrated how I was unique and how the qualities I developed can benefit the school. Maybe you don’t have these particular experiences but I’m sure there is something that makes you stand out!
How Do I Sell Myself To A Medical School Interview?
Try not to think of it as selling yourself to a medical school interviewer. The concept of selling can have a negative connotation. You don’t want to sell yourself like a car salesman sells a car.
You need to be humble during a medical school interview. We all have our strengths and weaknesses that make us unique. You don’t want to be telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear but rather be down to earth and honest about your accomplishments.
Trust me, an interviewer, especially a medical school admission committee member, can see through any BS.
If you are honest about your skills and qualities going in, you will inadvertently “sell” yourself as a diverse individual capable of adding great value to the medical school.