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My personal challenge overcome essay

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by CerealBox, Jul 23, 2005.

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Which personal challenge essay topic should I use?

  1. father's death

    25 vote(s)
  2. crohn's disease

    12 vote(s)
  3. sexual assault

    8 vote(s)
  4. hospital in Spain

    29 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. CerealBox

    CerealBox Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2005
    I have had to overcome numerous significant challenges in my life. I have learned a great deal from each of them... but they are all touchy/cliche/questionable for some reason or another. Which would you write about:
    1) Father's death freshman year of high school & helping my 3 younger sisters and mom
    2) struggle with Crohn's disease
    3) dealing with/learning from sexual assault ...
    4) being admitted to a hospital in Spain where I had no idea what was happening to me (related to Crohn's)
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  3. surjski

    surjski Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    I wouldn't write about sexual assault because it might not be something an interviewer would feel comfortable asking you about, and then it wouldn't promote good discussion. Your story about Spain would definitely be unique... But I think 1, 2, and 4 are all equally good.
  4. hardy

    hardy 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    For the reason mentioned here I would not do Crohn's but 1.
  5. hardy

    hardy 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    well, that is just his opinion. Although he has served on one adcom it does not have to be the same everywhere. I think a lot of it depends on how you present it, but finding the right way might be difficult.

    EMT2ER-DOC Why so Serious????? 10+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2003
    Philadelphia Area
    Please do not take this the wrong way.

    This question cannot be answered by anyone other than yourself. Your personal essay is just that, personal. Answer the following question:

    Why do you want to become a doctor?

    What motivated you to go through this whole process, the stress, the possible let down, and the elation?

    What factors in your life helped shape this decision?

    When you answer these questions, your essay is done.
  7. tigress

    tigress queen of the jungle 10+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2004
    I agree that it is prudent to be cautious when mentioning an illness on your application. In my first version of my PS I didn't mention it at all, but when I rewrote my PS to really reflect why I'm interested in medicine I found that I needed to include it. I only mentioned it, however, and did not dwell on it. I'm also not mentioning it in secondaries. It is tempting, especially since for many of us our own medical history is an important part of our desire to be doctors. But you don't want to raise any red flags about your ability to get through med school, residency, etc., or about your motivation.

    That said, if you do not mention the Crohn's elsewhere in your application, it would seem appropriate here. This almost seems like you're mentioning it as an afterthought, simply in response to this question. However, if you have mentioned it earlier, like in your PS, I would use your father's death and helping your family.

    just my 2 cents
  8. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude 7+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    Miami, FL
    If schools don't want to hear about people's real struggles, which can be terrible, terrible things, why do they ask this?

    They want answers that suit their needs, but they don't want to hear anything too ugly?
  9. crazy_cavalier

    crazy_cavalier T3-Weighted 7+ Year Member

    hospital in spain sounds interesting and unique. it's sort of the other side of the story, you know? I mean, people who are in the US but don't speak any english go to the hospital all the time... well here you have some personal insight into what that's like!

    sorry about those other three challenges! you seem like you've had a lot to go through in life... hope everything works out in the end for you
  10. TheMightyAngus

    TheMightyAngus 5+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    I don't want to put a damper on things, but couldn't having Crohn's disease be a potential hindrance to becoming a physician since people with Crohn's are known to be hospitalized often? Have you discussed this with a Dean or physician?

    I know someone with Crohn's who had plans to go to med school but was advised against it because it would be too hard on him during clerkships and residency if any episodes flared up. He chose another science-related career with more forgiving hours. I dont think med schools will be too happy if you neglect to inform them and end up missing chunks of time because you're sick.

    I think that any debilitating illness that you can't work through will be a potential problem. i.e, if you had leukemia you might have the brains to be a good doctor but there's no way your body could put up with the rigors of med school. But if you had a condition that wouldn't affect your performance as a doctor, i.e. Kleinfelter's syndrome, you'd be ok.
  11. hardy

    hardy 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Well, they DO want to hear about your motivation to go into medicine. But if that motivation does not suit their needs, they won't acccept you.
  12. CerealBox

    CerealBox Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2005
    I agree. I feel like this is kind of annoying. I have definitely overcome some real hurdles... but I don't want to actually disclose what these hurdles were if someone is going to count it against me. I guess you never know who will think what either. One interviewer could think my ability to deal with Crohn's makes me a stronger condidate while another at the same school might have doubts about my ability to perform.

    Maybe I'll talk about when my goldfish died.
  13. CerealBox

    CerealBox Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2005
    My Crohn's isn't really debilitating. I am an athlete, do great at school, etc. I have had a flare about once every 2-3 years... but have been able to gain control again rapidly. I don't think it should prevent me from becoming a physician. BUT... I don't know if someone else will always totally agree with. This makes me hesitant about talking about it.

    Maybe I'll talk about the hospital in Spain without specifically mentioning that I have Crohn's.
  14. CerealBox

    CerealBox Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2005
    This isn't for my personal statement. Its for an essay about a challenge I've overcome. All of these challenges have been big things in my life, but actually none of them are the reason I am going into medicine.
  15. Crete

    Crete Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2005
    First of all, you are AN AMAZING PERSON to go through all of this and be applying to medical school; my hat goes off to you. Second, if all of these had a significant effect on your decision to become a doctor, discuss them. If others did not have a significant effect in that sense but in another, maybe you could talk about them in the disadvantaged section (make sure you read who qualifies as disadvantaged) and/or secondaries. My opinion is to make sure you attack these things in what you learned from them, how they made you a better person, and will allow you to bring something or perspective to medical school that no other applicant will.
    I remember 3 was discussed a little bit on this forum, though unfortunately some *ssholes decided to respond. Do a search (one of the threads was: on how to tactfully deal with these subjects and definitely PM me if you need any other help or someone to read your PS (you're applying 2006 right?). Best of luck in everything; I'm sure you'll do terrific!
  16. tigress

    tigress queen of the jungle 10+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2004
    My best friend's brother has Crohns and he is currently doing his anasthesiology residency (after a preliminary surgery year). There's always the possibility that the disease will flare up and cause problems during school or residency, but many people are pretty well maintained on drugs, and can handle their flares quickly (as the OP says is his case). And the medications to treat Crohns (many of which are the same used to treat other autoimmune conditions, particularly RA -- see my other thread about illness) are only becoming more refined and more effective every year.
  17. oldmanjoe


    Jul 2, 2013
    what are peoples opinions on discussing overcoming a learning disability as your greatest challenge?
  18. hmockingbird

    hmockingbird 5+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2011
    Because they want to know that you will be able to handle the stress that comes with med school and residency. The biggest challenge secondary question isn't really so much about what the circumstances were but how you dealt with them - your support network, coping skills, etc.

    This thread about the "biggest challenge" question is a pretty good reference I think:

    Anyway, OP here are my thoughts:

    1. I wouldn't go with this one because you said it happened in high school, I think generally if you can I would go with something more recent so you can show that you have good coping skills *now*. Otherwise it would probably be a good choice.
    2. I think compared to the Spain one, I would go with Spain because it's more specific/covers less time so you can really get into the strategies you used to overcome the situation.
    3. I don't think it's a bad choice but I would only pick this one if you're comfortable talking about the assault during an interview.
    4. I kind-of think this one is unique with the foreign setting and I think it would be easy to not get into too much detail if you didn't want to, or even just make it a vague one time medical emergency type thing (maybe they can assume you had appendicitis or something).

    As far as Crohn's in general, if you do bring it up I would just find a way to emphasize that it's under control and you generally lead a normal life.
  19. Pandaeac

    Pandaeac 2+ Year Member

    May 28, 2013
    north east
    I think the post you're responding to is from 2005?

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