Yale Medical School Secondary Essays: Tips + Samples

October 2, 2023


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 5/13/22

Is Yale your dream medical school? You’re in luck! Follow along to learn expert tips on how to create stand-out secondary essays for Yale medical school. 

The Yale University School of Medicine is one of the most prestigious medical schools in the world. On top of being part of the Ivy League, the school consistently ranks within the top 10 medical schools globally each year in both the US News and QS World rankings. 

Class-topping students from across the globe are consistently applying to Yale medical school - but how can they do so successfully when the competition is so fierce? One way is to zero in on the quality of your secondary essays. 

Essays are the biggest opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates because you can begin to present your personality.

Here we’ll go over how to write the Yale medical school secondary essays. We’ve included tips on how to create compelling pieces of writing from admissions experts, successful essay samples, and more here. 

If you’re looking for a partner to help you throughout your application journey, feel free to contact one of our admissions advisors at any time. We’re here to help!

Let’s get started.

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Yale Medical School Secondary Essay Prompts

To begin, we must first analyze the Yale medical school essay prompts. The following prompts are updated for 2022-2023. 

Essay Prompt #1

Yale School of Medicine values diversity in all its forms. How will your background and experiences contribute to this important focus of our institution and inform your future role as a physician? (500 words limit)”

How to answer: To give Yale a deeper understanding of who you are, use this  secondary essay as an opportunity to showcase your unique perspective. As this prompt is a "diversity essay," consider the various aspects of your identity that make you stand out. This can include your ethnicity, culture, interests, background, and values. 

Reflect on experiences from your past that have shaped your identity and choose one to focus on in your essay. Be authentic in your writing and avoid cliches. Additionally, make sure to connect your background to how it will contribute to your future as a physician and conclude your essay by highlighting how it makes you a suitable fit for the role.

Required Essay #2: Select One Of the Following Prompts

MD applicants: Please answer either one of the following questions

MD/PhD applicants: Please answer question 2 as it pertains to your proposed PhD research.

  1. While there is great emphasis on the physician-patient relationship, Yale School of Medicine also emphasizes the importance of training future physicians to care for communities and populations. Describe how your experiences would contribute to this aspect of the mission of the Yale School of Medicine. (500 words limit)
  1. Research is essential to patient care, and all students at Yale School of Medicine complete a research thesis. Tell us how your research interests, skills, and experiences would contribute to scholarship at Yale School of Medicine. (500 words limit).”

How to Write the Yale Medical School Required Essay #2

First, choose the appropriate prompt.

How to answer prompt one: To respond to the first prompt, which asks you to connect your experiences to the value of treating communities and populations, consider a specific experience from your past that had a significant impact on you. 

Your topic could be a time when you volunteered, were part of an underserved community, or had a role as a representative. When selecting your topic, focus on a time when you learned something through a community experience that changed you. 

Share your story from a position of growth, highlighting any challenges or mistakes you encountered, but also how you learned and improved from them. Conclude by explaining how the experience has made you a better person and how it will contribute to your future as a physician.

How to answer prompt two: Prompt two is targeted at MD/PhD applicants who are interested in medical research. 

Use this opportunity to elaborate on any experiences that have sparked your interest in the field of medicine. Whether it was encountering an incurable disease, facing obstacles in research, or other experiences, highlight your passion for uncovering answers and understanding. 

Keep in mind that you do not need to have specific experience in medical research to answer this prompt, think broadly about any experiences that have contributed to your growing passion for learning. Reflect on what answers you hope to uncover in the future and how your experiences and passions will make you an excellent doctor one day. 

Most importantly, be genuine in your response and avoid writing what you think Yale wants to hear. This is the chance for Yale to get to know you, your motivations, and why your experiences and passions will make you a great fit for the program.

Yale Medical School Secondary Essay Samples

Here are some examples of successful essays to reference when writing your own. Please do not copy our samples, as they are meant only for use as a writing guide. 

Essay Prompt #1 Example

Yale medical school’s first prompt asks the applicant to write a “diversity essay,” which intends to express how your unique point of view has shaped your current goals. Here’s an example of a successful medical school diversity essay.

“Being South Asian, I have firsthand knowledge of what it means not to access basic health care. As a child, my mother took me to Pakistan every year, where I spent summers with my grandfather, a top pediatrician in the nation. He had a free clinic attached to his home in Faisalabad, and his practice was so renowned and respected that people from all over the country would travel great distances to have my grandfather treat their children. Pakistan is a third-world country where a significant part of the population remains illiterate and uneducated due to the lack of resources and opportunities. This population is the most vulnerable, with extremely high numbers of infectious disease and mortality rates. Yet, it is entirely underserved. With the lack of hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices in rural Pakistan, parents of ailing children must travel great distances and wait in long lines to receive proper health care. Every summer at my grandfather’s clinic, from ages five to 17, my job was to open the doors to long lines of tired, hungry, and thirsty parents with their sick children. I would pass out bottled water and pieces of fruit. I would record names, where the patients came from, and the reasons for their visits. I would scurry back inside with the information for my grandfather to assess, and then he’d send me running back out again to let the next family inside. I learned in my formative years how to communicate with diverse patient populations with special needs and a lack of basic necessities. I learned to listen to every family’s unique reasons for their visit, and some of their desperation and pleading for the lives of their children will stay with me forever. When I get into medical school, I hope to share the story of how Gulzarah carried her dehydrated daughter for 12 miles in the Pakistani summer heat without rest (thanks to my grandfather, she later made a full recovery). I want to tell my peers that doctors like my grandfather are not only healers in biology but healers in the spirit by the way he made up heroic songs for the children and sang the fear out of their hearts. I want to show my peers that patients are unique individuals who have suffered and sacrificed to trust us with their health care, so we must honor their trust by providing quality treatment and empathy. My formative experiences in pediatrics contributed to my globally conscious mindset, and I look forward to sharing these diverse insights in my medical career.”

Why this essay works: The writer chose to focus mainly on their childhood experiences as their unique point of view. 

They successfully describe how they first became passionate about medicine with their compelling stories of their grandfather’s practice. In the end, they include how they would like to use their unique point of view to contribute to the field of healthcare.

This writer has a moving story, and although not everyone has such a drastic connection to medicine, it’s important to recognize the three main points in this essay:

  1.  The writer describes their unique perspective. 
  2. The writer presents how their unique perspective lends itself to their interest in medicine.
  3. The writer concludes by stating how their unique perspective will help them become a better physician.

When writing your essay you should include those three main points to connect your story regardless of your subject. 

Essay Prompt #2 Example

Here we’ve included an essay on serving different communities and populations in response to Yale’s first question in the second essay prompt. 

This essay focuses on underserved communities, though you should keep in mind that your own essay should concentrate on the area of medicine and the community or population you are most passionate about. 

“On Wednesdays, I was the only visitor for Jorge, an elderly patient in the AIDS and Tropical Disease Ward at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. A native of Equatorial Guinea, Jorge had full blown AIDS and had been living in Spain illegally because, according to Jorge, his country lacked enough resources and trained doctors to provide an adequate level of treatment. Over several weeks I witnessed his losing battle, not only with a terminal illness but also with cultural incongruence and a continual feeling of unease, thousands of miles away from home. Talking with Jorge during my experience as a volunteer for the NGO Soldarios Para el Desarollo in the fall of 2001, led me to question the justice of health care discrepancies that make it so difficult for people like Jorge to get sufficient treatment in underdeveloped nations. Jorge was a victim of health care inequality, a subject that has been at the forefront of my mind since enrolling in “Race and Medicine in America” during my sophomore year. The course revealed to me the historically poor distribution of quality medical attention and how treatment continually evades socio-economically disadvantaged communities. I came to understand how, in the US, a national shortage of physicians and unlikely prospects of financial gain have caused few doctors to take an interest in these communities, leaving a diminishing level of access to services and expertise. This unfortunate reality inspired me to take an interest in treating these populations, in hopes of helping to improve the care for our country’s poor and underserved. Jorge’s story broadened my perspective, as I further realized that this need is exponentially worse in developing nations. The combination of my studies and real world experience strengthened my desire to practice medicine focused on treating underserved populations, nationally and abroad. In pursuit of my goal, I sought additional exposure to medical conditions in the developing world. During the summer of 2002, I contributed to a public health research initiative in Ghana. My research on malaria infectivity in and around the capital city Accra sent me to shanty town communities with poor hygiene and chronic illness and gave me yet another perspective on the impact of economic disparity in health outcomes and treatment options. Exorbitant patient volume and endemic disease are but a few of the many obstacles to doctors serving these communities and trying to provide quality care. Despite these difficulties, I witnessed skilled physicians in this setting performing complex procedures in substandard conditions. At the Komfo Ankye Teaching Hospital in 7 the urban village of Kumasi, I scrubbed-in during the removal of an osteosarcoma tumor from a man’s jaw and an ileostomy, where I saw a scalpel filling the role of an absent screwdriver and doctors working in a hot ward with minimal ventilation and only basic amenities. These resourceful doctors were still able to perform, reaffirming my expectation that despite complications, the addition of well-trained doctors can make a marked difference. I began to understand how, by taking my medical school training to such environments, I could serve as an intermediary - bringing first world knowledge into a third-world context. Since my time in Ghana, I have continued to participate in health care projects in poor communities. During the summer of 2003, I conducted research in an obstetrics ward of a public hospital in Sao Paulo, and the following fall participated in an infectious disease initiative that brought medical attention to impoverished suburbs of Lima, Peru. Most recently, I worked at a bilingual health clinic in Chicago serving a primarily Latino immigrant community. With each experience, I gained a deeper understanding of the complementary skills necessary to make a real difference. I have learned that medical knowledge, cultural understanding, and political savvy are critical components to a holistic approach to community health care and development, and are skills possessed by the most effective contributors to positive change. I continue to hone my language skills in anticipation of serving Spanish and Portuguese-speaking populations; and I am building an understanding of how to work in a complex funding environment and link medical treatment with public policy. I wish to pursue my medical training and a Master’s in Public Health, so that I can improve access to health care and serve as an effective physician. My desire to perform medical public service developed from concern and sympathy for people in need of medical care, most specifically those with the least access. I further recognize the importance such compassion plays in effective communication between doctors and their patients. It was my childhood doctor’s ability to convey understanding and elicit trust that inspired my initial interest in the medical field. He combined calm and compassion with medical expertise in a thorough form of healing that I grew to expect, but have infrequently witnessed in poor communities. As I strive to bring better health care to underserved populations, I hope to do so with the same personal care and attention that comforted me in my youth.”

Why this essay works: In this example, the writer clearly highlights their passion for healthcare and how it all began. 

Importantly, they clearly emphasize the communities they are most passionate about helping through medical care. Whichever population or community you intend to care for later on should be clear in this essay, even if you change your mind later on. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your unique perspective and attributes to Yale.

FAQs: Yale Medical School Essays

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to write the Yale medical school secondary essays.

1. How Many Secondary Essays Do You Need for Yale Medical School?

There are technically four essay prompts for Yale medical school, although only two are mandatory to write. The second prompt has two questions you can choose between, and the third prompt is an optional essay that you can choose to write if you want to explain an abnormal circumstance on your application. 

2. How Do I Write the Yale Medical School Essays?

When writing the Yale medical school essays, make sure to highlight your unique perspective. Consider the unique qualities you bring to the table and how your personal history has influenced your career choices. Remember, your essays are the perfect opportunity for Yale to get to know the person behind the numbers. It’s your time to shine! Also, utilizing an online plagiarism checker ensures the originality of your essays.

Final Thoughts

Writing Yale medical school essays is challenging for most aspiring med students simply because creative writing is not often their strong suit. However, if you can master the art of telling your story and providing your unique perspective on healthcare - you’ll be sure to wow the admissions committee. 

Good luck with your essays!

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