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Secondary Essays

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by hannaht, Sep 28, 2014.

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  1. hannaht


    Sep 28, 2014
    I am wondering about writing about my own past struggles with mental health. I did a lot of work in high school with teen health and suicide prevention and I am currently working with my high school to develop a new mental health curriculum. This is something I wrote about in my primary essay, but I did not specifically talk about my own struggle with depression in high school. It is part of what motivates me to go into mental health and was a major source of adversity in my life. If I write about it in a past-tense, is that okay? I don't want it to be a red flag, but I also don't want to omit it if I can help it.

    Please let me know your thoughts! Particularly if you have credible information regarding this.
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  3. Kelilah

    Kelilah 2+ Year Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    A lot of people will tell you to avoid disclosing mental health issues, present or past, at all cost. This is a myth as far as I'm concerned.

    My personal statement discussed my experience with depression and how it influenced my interest in psychiatry, and in helping patients through vulnerable times in a general sense. I never thought I would reveal such information in my personal statement, but one of the admissions books I read advised not to talk about mental illness - with the exception of depression, because it's so common. I felt that my interest in medicine made no sense without the context of my past history, so I decided to go for it.

    When I met with a member of the admissions committee at my state school to discuss my application, he told me he liked my personal statement. He said that if med schools rejected everyone with a history of psychiatric illness, we would have an even more severe physician shortage than we already do. What's important is that your academic record shows that you are stable and healthy now, and have demonstrated that level of stability for a sufficient amount of time. My academic performance was consistent throughout college, so the fact that I wrote about my depression in high school was not such a concern to them. If there are significant fluctuations in your grades from semester to semester, or other red flags, I would consider not discussing your depression. Otherwise, I would say go for it, as long as you're able to use your experience to show how it helped you grow and how it will make you a better, more empathetic doctor.

    I figured that talking about depression might scare off some schools, but thought that that was okay, since I probably wouldn't be happy at those schools anyway. I have gotten three rejections (I don't know if any of them have to do with my PS) and seven interview invitations so far, and have already been on three interviews. I was expecting to be grilled about my experience with depression, but so far, that hasn't happened. My student interviewer at one school called my personal statement one of the most compassionate he had ever seen, so that was validating. We'll see if these schools have enough confidence in my emotional stability to accept me. :)

    I would encourage you to talk about your past if your application shows that you have indeed overcome it.
    g8plane likes this.

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