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poorly written secondaries

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by blackgirlmd, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. blackgirlmd

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    What would be the components of a poorly written secondary? Bad grammar, poor content?

    Just curious because I feel as though I am rushing through these essays. I am getting them proofread, but no one is saying much.
     
  2. Ad2b

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    I suspect, all of the above. As these are the insight that specific school is looking for, poorly written anything will not translate well, imo.
     
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  3. blackgirlmd

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    I feel that I am writing mine too fast for them to be any good. I have been submitting them the same day and next day. They reflect exactly what I want to say and I even have people look over them. Maybe I'm just being paranoid
     
  4. NotASerialKiller

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    Maybe you're just hyper-critical of yourself, but chances are if you feel like you're not writing strong essays, you probably aren't. While it's an advantage to get them in quickly, it sounds like you might be rushing them a bit. Instead of finishing them, proofreading and submitting, why don't you leave it for a day and then do a slow and careful (and outloud?) reading. That way you can focus on how it sounds rather than agonizing over wording. This "forest not the trees" strategy can greatly improve the quality of your writing and strength of your essays, even if there aren't any explicit mistakes. If there's a chance you could improve the flow and make them sound a lot better, it's probably worth submitting one day later.

    Just my general writing advice!
     
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  5. nwts

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    I feel that poorly written secondaries include one, some, or all of the following:
    -grammar or spelling errors
    -poor communication skills (it's hard to decipher what you mean)
    -responses that do not actually answer the question that was asked
    -responses that make the applicant seem entitled, conceited, or otherwise unappealing
    -racist, sexist, homophobic, or similarly offensive ideologies
    -references to inappropriate topics

    However, it is important to consider that the goal in writing your secondaries is not to be merely not poor, but to be good. Adcoms see tons of applicants with good stats, ECs, etc., so you want your secondary responses to be strong so that they can set you apart as an exceptional applicant.
     
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  6. blackgirlmd

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    Thank you for the input! And yes for all secondaries I usually write them the day I receive them (for all of them I have pre-brainstormed all of my ideas based on the prompts from SDN) Then the next day I read them out loud, get others' opinions, make changes, and then submit! So I feel I just may be being hyper-critical. It's not that I feel they aren't strong, I just feel like I'm writing them too quick lol
     
  7. blackgirlmd

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    Perfect, thanks!
     
  8. nwts

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    You're welcome! Best of luck!
     
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  9. Goro

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    Agreed.

    Also, anything whereby the applicant can't seem to follow simple instructions.

     
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  10. Dr. Stalker

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    Does the secondary even get read/matter prior to sending an interview invite? I thought its just AMCAS + your secondary fee that really matter...during interview day the interviewer browses and sees your essays "Oh I see you volunteered...tell me about that" kinda thing
     
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  11. Goro

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    At schools that screen, every inch of the app gets looked over. How are they going to distinguish between all the excellent candidates?


     
  12. Ad2b

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    ^^ are you willing to risk that by sending something of poor quality? @dr.stalker (Goro beat me to the punch)
     
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  13. blackgirlmd

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    Also, @Goro , what are schools looking for when they ask for your future career goals?
    Ex: What are your aspirations for your medical practice? Fast-forward to 15 years in the future: where do you imagine yourself?
    or
    Describe your future career plans and goals?
     
  14. Ad2b

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    I would think they want the truth. Where do you see yourself in 15 years. Not what they want to hear but YOUR truth.
     
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  15. blackgirlmd

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    yes but I am wondering how into detail I should go. Should I talk about my current interests and how this led me to these decisions? Should I talk about fellowships after residency? And are they looking for strictly medical or personal things too?
     
  16. NotASerialKiller

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    This was just discussed in a recent thread, couldn't find it at a glance but there were new posts a day or two ago.

    Basically they're looking for you to have put some thought into the issue. You don't have to feel obligated to already choose a specialty before you start med school, but maybe there's one that interests you so you can plan out roughly how that would go down, while recognizing that it's certainly not set it stone.

    They don't want you to stare blankly and say, "Uh... I'll figure it out after I'm accepted?" even though most people probably will change their minds.
     
  17. Goro

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    See Mimelim's post on this from the other day. Spot on!

     
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  18. blackgirlmd

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    I see, that makes sense. It just seems weird for me to say in detail "oh I'm gonna do this and that, etc" Seems a little grandiose
     
  19. blackgirlmd

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    how can I find this? Do I search the name?
    How can I find this post?
     
  20. blackgirlmd

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    didn't mean to post that twice LOL
     
  21. Ad2b

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    I think a theme of "I could see doing something along the lines of this as it has been of interest to me since I was an undergrad and volunteering in ...

    While serving in that capacity ... I developed an interest in .... and liked how it centered around patient care for the ...."

    Something like that leaves it vague enough to give the people reading it who you are and what you're about without sound grandiose. PLUS it ties back into your ECs. :) Reinforces that you're not just a book and an MCAT score.
     
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  22. blackgirlmd

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    that makes sense, thanks!! I just get a little overwhelmed too because of the huge character limits lol
     
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  23. heebeejeebies

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    I think the most important things are answering the question and conveying experiences that best highlight the values of the school and its mission.

    I'm sitting on each secondary for 2-3 days before submitting. Also I did an English course this summer that just wrapped up and if I have to write another essay soon I will spontaneously combust.
     
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  24. Goro

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  25. xc_stallion92

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    @Goro

    In your interview advice thread you mentioned that focusing on research is an insta-reject. I am only applying MD/PhD, and for the secondaries that ask about where you see yourself in the future I was honest and talked about how I would probably be doing a lot of research related to my clinical specialty. Even though I'm applying MD/PhD will that still hurt me?
     
  26. Goro

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    I wouldn't call it an instant reject, and certainly not when it's mentioned in a secondary. But the COMs in particular have much lower emphasis on research. the scenario I was discussing was up front at interviews.

    What get people rejected is that they come off as 100% interested in research, and not having any interest in patients.

    Even MD/PhD or DO/PhD candidates will have to contact patients at some point in their training.

    When someone I interview mentions a research interest ("what are your research facilities like?") I think about how much I'd like to get them in my lab and ask them if they can do westerns.


    One last thing, someone applying to MD/PhD programs had better have an interest in research!

     
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  27. xc_stallion92

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    Ok, thanks a lot.
     
  28. piii

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    Goro, is it okay to mention interest in translational medicine in my secondaries, even if I'm applying straight MD? I have a very robust research background and in some schools' "Why us?" essays I have a sentence or two explaining how I'd take advantage of this or that research opportunity/facility.
     
  29. Goro

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    This can be tricky because you need to imagine translational medicine as an inverted pyramid. At the top is all the basic research. Heading downward are the animal models, and then the clinical trials, with the phase III being the tip of the pyramid stuck in the ground. Fewer and fewer regular clinicians take part as you get closer to the tip....they're replaced by academic clinicians and maybe those employed by industry.

    Hence the likelihood of your taking part in translational research is actually low. You need to be award of this process so as to NOT appear naïve.

    In essence, I don't want you to appear like the kid who says "I want to be a neurosurgeon" without ever having shadowed any sort of surgeon.

     
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  30. piii

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    Thanks for the advice, Goro. I get what you mean. But, I spent two years working full time in a translational research lab at BWH/Harvard. I managed the lab as well and basically had post doc duties. I worked with human blood samples and performed genetic and mouse studies that directly impacted the clinical management of the patients that my PI/physician scientist took care of. I only mentioned it in a few essays where the school heavily focuses on research (like VTech). I have a good understanding of what it entails so I don't think I'm just "that kid."

    In this case, it seems appropriate, ya? I mostly just want to have opportunities to work in research while in medical school.
     
  31. Goro

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    I think that you'll be fine and I can imagine numerous PhD interviewers asking if you'd want o spend time in their!!!


     
  32. piii

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    Kk, I'll make sure I'm prepared to not focus on research in my interview then!
     
  33. shoopshoop

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    wait could i get some clarification on this? from what i have seen (in my limited experience), MDs are more likely to be clustered at the 'tip of the pyramid' aka involved in clinical trials and animal models, and PhDs are usually the ones doing the very basic science. while this is obviously not a hard and fast rule, i am surprised to see you mention the opposite of what i have observed. am i misunderstanding what you said, or is my experience not reflective of how academic medicine works at large?
     
  34. Goro

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    True, but what kind of MDs? Your typical Family Care or I.M. doc? Or an MD or MD/PhD on faculty at a major research institution? Most pre-meds who are interested in translational medicine really have no idea how it works...they imagine they'll be seeing patients and then running off to the bench...that's not how it works for the vast majority of clinicians.

    Someone posted a much more elegant explanation of how the process works than I can explain. Maybe one you can dig up that post?


     
  35. caffeinemia

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    Translational research involves two things... a collective monster called the IRB/FDA and a #11 scalpel that you insert into the distal radial artery and proceed to filet in a proximal direction.
     
  36. shoopshoop

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    aah okay gotcha! i thought you were talking about the MD/PhD divide, rather than the ways in which MDs can differ. my experience is from a major academic medical center and the MDs were definitely not the bread and butter PCPs. it seems very difficult, if not impossible, to be a 'regular clinician' and be involved in the translational process - would be a little awkward if premeds mention that.
     
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