Appropriate secondary topic question

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by chessknt87, May 11, 2008.

  1. chessknt87

    Physician

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    As I am looking over secondary prompts for last year I am starting to realize that there is a lot of breathing room as far as how you could answer the questions. This raises the question for me if there are some topics that medical schools dont want to hear about/are inappropriate.

    To serve as a launching point, my father was an alcoholic that basically wrecked his life when I was fairly young (like 1st grade) and he came in and out of my life for the next 10 years. Can I talk about this in questions that ask if I want to provide more information? I believe it strongly impacted me against drugs and addiction because I have personally borne witness to the negative effects they have, but I dont want to look like im using it to gather pity either.
     
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  3. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member

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    While it's not an inappropriate topic to discuss in an essay, I would only use this story if it's relevant to the question.
     
  4. chessknt87

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    Well it asks for significant life experiences. To me this is not a story or some bull**** I made up, I lived through this and it has had a significant impact on my views of abusive drugs today. I am just wondering if they see this too often and will just assume I am full of **** because if they do I will leave it out.
     
  5. scarletgirl777

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    I think there's always a risk of seeming like you're trying to make it sound like your life is a sob story. A lot of us have bad things that we could talk about that happened in our lives...it's not always appropriate to bring that up. But if you can make it sound relevant, then it will probably be fine. I am personally going to try to talk about the positives.
     
  6. decafplease

    decafplease Medical Student

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    I doubt they hear this one all the time. If you're afraid they may think you're bluffing, give them details. I think vague assertions leave room for doubt, but if you're upfront and give them a strong picture of what you experienced, I'd be surprised if they doubted you. Have you considered applying as socially disadvantaged? It gives you an opportunity to explain on your primary application and may get you a second or third glance in the secondary screening process.

    Just don't make excuses, blame anyone (hard to do, I know), sound angry/resentful, or emotionally unstable. If you can discuss your childhood circumstances in a "I've dealt with this and it isn't an emotionally difficult issue for me anymore, and this is how it's motivated me to pursue _____" then go for it. I've had to discuss difficult family issues in the past, and they best advice I've ever been given was, "Don't blame anyone. Show them how responsible you are by not pointing fingers and making excuses." I've since had to discuss these difficult issues in a room full of strangers and the response I always get is, "Wow, you are so mature." Now, who knows how true that is (*wink*) but being able to show how a HUGE negative has only made you a stronger and better person than you would have been otherwise? That's special.

    Good for you for making the most out of a difficult childhood. We bear the scars of other people's mistakes, but we reap the benefits of our mature perspective on life. :luck:
     
  7. CubaLibre

    CubaLibre member

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    if it asks for significant life experiences, I would think your story is appropriate, if you manage to tell it well and avoid sounding like you're looking for some pity. Explain how it affected you, changed certain perspectives, etc. and how you ultimately learned something positive. Gotta always bring it back to something positive on these apps. I don't think you should mention this story on other secondaries though, where the question is only "ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?" That is, unless you write a really kick @ S $ essay and you really feel it would help. Good luck.
     
  8. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    The adcom really is not interested in why you will not do drugs/drink. The adcom wants to know why you want to pursue a career in medicine, what you've done to test your interest, and what you'll bring to the school (talents, outside interests, experiences). If your answers don't obliquely answer one of those three questions, then you haven't quite made the most of that question.

    If what you bring to the class is the experience of an abandoned child whose father is/was an alcoholic, how will that translate into your contribution to the education of your classmates, the care of patients, and the advancement of medical science? You might be able to make this work but it is going to mean focusing on you and not on what your dad did or did not do. (In other words, you should be the subject of most of the sentences, not the object of the sentence.)
     
  9. chessknt87

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    So would it be appropriate to relate it to how I learned to take responsibility for myself as well as for others (namely my little brother) at a young age while my mother was out working to support us? I also firmly believe my experience will give me a unique ability to empathize with people in similar abusive situations much better than people who have not been, which is good since I really want to go into primary care. Or is this so far in the past that they dont care any more?
     
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I think that if you phrase it as what you did and why you did it (you took care of a younger sibling because your mom was working after your dad's alcoholism became severe and he left the family and that this has made you empathetic families with difficulties etc) you will be on the right track.
     

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