Frogger27

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Aug 2, 2016
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Hello everyone.

So I submitted my primary application (should be verified later this week). I had been prewriting secondaries; however, last week I lost one of my parents unexpectedly. Obviously the last week has been a whirl wind with organizing funeral arrangements and having so many family and friends in town.

I am just getting ready to start attacking these secondaries again. I have a couple of concerns that I would like some advice on.

1) a good part of my personal statement talks about how witnessing my parent (the one who deceased) struggle with mental health and addiction has motivated me to pursue a career in medicine so that I can provide longitudinal care to people (parent did not pass from an overdose or anythin along those lines). I talk about watching my parent being alive and sober in my statement... My primary application also has this parent listed as alive. I feel like there is a hole in my application now because of the unexpected circumstances. Can I contact AAMC to change this on my primary? I feel like my application does not follow along with my personal statement now that this family member is passed.

2) Would this be something I can address in secondaries for the challenge essay? This obviously is the biggest challenge I have had to overcome, but is it too soon? I feel like by addressing it here it may fill in the hole that is in my application. In dealing with the situation, I have taken a lot of good steps in addressing this challenge. I waited until I was emotionally ready to proceed. I have been organized and made a schedule of when I will write each schools secondaries by prioritizing them among other things.

Any advice would be appreciated. I am nervous about the timing of my application now and the apparent hole in my application.
 

Goro

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Very sorry to hear of your loss. My wife lost her mom in January.

You can indeed make an "update" in the secondary. Screeners/readers will be able to figure out what happened.
 
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Frogger27

Frogger27

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Very sorry to hear of your loss. My wife lost her mom in January.

You can indeed make an "update" in the secondary. Screeners/readers will be able to figure out what happened.
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words..... When you say "update" in the secondary, would using this as a challenge prompt be an appropriate place?
 

Orthosurg1

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Thank you, I appreciate the kind words..... When you say "update" in the secondary, would using this as a challenge prompt be an appropriate place?
OP, I am so so so sorry for your loss. I cannot even imagine going through that, especially while going through an application cycle. I think a challenge prompt would be a very appropriate place to discuss this.
 
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LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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My condolences.

If a school doesn't have a secondary prompt that fits the circumstances, you might consider sending an update letter to the school just noting that the parent you had written about in your personal statement passed away suddenly on July __ and will continue to be an inspiration to you in the years ahead.
 
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Frogger27

Frogger27

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@Orthosurg1
Thanks for you kind words! My family has had unbelievable support the last couple of days that has helped tremendously. I have younger siblings so I have had to be strong for all of them.

For the direction of the challenge essay.. I have a couple thoughts that I would appreciate feedback on..

I could write about overcoming the emotion in order to support my siblings. Then I can talk about how I had to be extremely organized in completing my secondaries and moving forward toward my dream of being a physician..

I can also write about how my family was thrust into an unexpected situation. I was responsible for organizing with the funeral home, and also writing and giving a Eulogy on my parents behalf. This was incredibly difficult to do, but I was able to find the courage to honor my parent in the right way.

@LizzyM I know that a lot of schools do not take updates pre-interview. Do they make exceptions for circumstances like this? Also do you think it would be appropriate to address this in a challenge essay or in the "Please let us know anything else section"
 

Espressso

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For the schools that do accept updates pre-II, do what @LizzyM suggested
For the schools that do not, I would contact their admissions individually and inform them of the circumstances.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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I'd use the challenge essay or the "anything else" essay and as a last resort, send an email to the admissions office, even if they don't accept updates. This is a big enough deal that they should be clued in before you go to interview there. The interviewer, at the least, should know so as to phrase questions to reflect what has happened rather than what was the case when you were first applying.
 
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Frogger27

Frogger27

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I'd use the challenge essay or the "anything else" essay and as a last resort, send an email to the admissions office, even if they don't accept updates. This is a big enough deal that they should be clued in before you go to interview there. The interviewer, at the least, should know so as to phrase questions to reflect what has happened rather than what was the case when you were first applying.
Since it is a tough subject do discuss, do you have any advice on addressing this in an appropriate way? Specifically for overcoming this challenge?
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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Since it is a tough subject do discuss, do you have any advice on addressing this in an appropriate way? Specifically for overcoming this challenge?
"Tincture of time", as my old doc used to say. It may be difficult in the coming weeks to talk about this without choking up or being teary eyed. That's okay. With time, it will get easier.

On the other hand, an interviewer who assumes that your parents are still alive and asks a question about how they feel about you going into medicine would require you to address it aloud and make the painful statement that your parent has died. That may come as a jolt to the interviewer and now you are both out of sorts. So it would be best to send an update in advance of the interview. Sometimes an interviewer will open with a question about whether you have any updates and that's where you could say that you have a personal up-date: .... or you could leave it alone.

I once interviewed someone who seemed to be somewhat of a mess despite having lost a parent well over a year before. (That had been in the application.) I really wondered about the applicant's emotional state. Then I learned, after the interview, that the applicant had buried another very close relative just the week before! The front office knew, because the applicant had to reschedule the interview to attend the funeral but no one told me. However, knowing that changed my assessment entirely.
 
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Frogger27

Frogger27

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@LizzyM Thank you for that wonderful response. Although sudden and unexpected, I do feel that I will be able to address the situation if asked about it in an interview. I have younger siblings and gave the Eulogy on my parents behalf, so I am not sure it could get more tough than that.

My question was more so any tips on how to address it in the secondaries. The "Anything else" essay will be easy to address, but the challenge essay is one that I feel I can write a good essay on if addressed in an appropriate way. This was the most difficult week of my life, but I feel I have taken the steps to address it in the best way possible, supported my family/honored my parent, and gotten myself ready to continue pursuing my goal of becoming a physician.
 

rilte4

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Sep 25, 2015
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Nothing helpful to add, but wanted to wish you well. You seem like a very strong person.