Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts

Duke Medical School Secondary Application Prompts & Tips

Duke University School of Medicine Secondary Application Essay Prompts by Year
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    Getting accepted to Duke University School of Medicine is hard. Very hard. Submitting an OUTSTANDING Duke Medical School secondary application is vital to receiving an interview invite, which ultimately can lead to an acceptance. Duke secondaries are notorious because the Duke secondary application is one of the longest secondary applications. If you look below at the year-over-year Duke secondary prompts, the Duke secondary application gets longer and longer over time! Because our Cracking Med School Admissions team has no word limits when it comes to our secondary essay editing, it is one of the most common secondary applications that we read each year. The Duke Med School Admissions committee gets an intimate look into each applicant. Duke secondaries are extremely personal and open-ended, allowing applicants to write about their passions and their backgrounds. 

    We want to note a few things for applicants who are starting to write the Duke secondary.

    1. There have been a lot of changes in the Duke secondaries prompts the last few years – each year, there are changes in word limit, optional essay prompts, and essay prompts. This would NOT be a secondary application we would suggest pre-writing before the official prompts are released by the medical school admissions office.
    2. Duke cares a lot about your personal background and how you relate (work with) diverse individuals. 

    Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has a track record of helping our mentees receive acceptances to Duke School of Medicine year after year.  Get started and read our Duke Medical School secondary application tips below. To learn more about student life, read our Duke Med School Profile, “How to get into Duke Medical School.”

    Contact us below if you have any questions!

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2023-2024

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (400 words) – character limit it decreased from past years
    2. New Question: Working with Others: Trust and rapport are essential in your day-to-day interactions with people. How do you cultivate a relationship with a person who may be very different from you? (400 words)
    3. Advocacy: Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours. Define your view of advocacy.  What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words)
    4. Coping with Disappointment: Not achieving a goal or one’s desire can sometimes be disheartening. What have you learned/gained from your setbacks and disappointments and how does this translate to your current way of thinking? (400 words)
    5. New Question: Leadership: What do you value most as a leader and as a contributor? What attributes do you possess as a leader and as a team member and how do you apply them on a daily basis? (400 words)
    6. Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience enhances critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. How will critical thinking be important in your future career? (400 words)
    7. New Question: Understanding the Need for Healthcare Changes: Potential sources of health inequities exist. Duke’s Moments to Movement (M2M) is a collective stand to address these issues. Discuss your experience with disparities in health, health care and society.(400 words max)
    8. COVID-19 Implications: How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words max)
    9. (Optional) Further Information: Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application. (no word limit)

    Tips to Answer Duke Secondary Essays

    Duke Secondary Application Pre-Writing Guidance: We want to note a few things for applicants who are starting to write the Duke secondary.

    1. There are a lot of changes in the Duke secondary recently. This would NOT be a secondary application we would suggest pre-writing before the official prompts are released by the medical school admissions office. Additionally, writing 10 long essays is super intimidating. Work on some shorter secondaries first, and then you’ll be able to use those essays to help you finish this one! From our extensive experience, Duke is not a time-sensitive medical school, so you do not need to rush to submit this secondary.
    2. Additionally, many students feel overwhelmed and burned out if the Duke secondary application is one of the first few secondaries they tackle. Therefore, our Dr. Rishi Mediratta’s and Dr. Rachel Rizal’s advice is to work on your Duke secondaries once you’ve tackled (and finalized) many other medical schools’ secondaries. 
    3. The Duke University School of Medicine secondary is extremely long. Therefore, read all our secondary application essay tips our Cracking Med Secondary Essay Workbook and Examples.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #1: Answer as many questions as possible on the Duke Med secondary. Our Cracking Med School Admissions team does not view any Duke secondary essay as optional.  Additionally, use the space allotted. Try not to submit 50-100 word essays.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #2: Highlight your leadership, passion to change healthcare, and impact on society.  Your past experiences are often the best source for great answers. Tell stories to convey your impact and leadership through your Duke secondaries. For example, if you conducted research over a gap year, tell a story about a challenge you faced or a patient you met while conducting a clinical trial. 

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #3: Duke is an innovative school. Reflect how you’ve been innovative in your endeavors, whether it’s through writing composition or your research.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #4: For the teamwork, leadership, and critical thinking essays, you will be judged on how well you communicate. Make sure you explain your the context you are writing about. We also strongly suggest giving specific examples that show your leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking skills. Don’t talk in generalities about your extracurricular activities. Instead, tell a specific story in each of these long word limit essays. Each essay is about the length of a primary application personal statement!

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #5: Be detailed and rigorous with how you describe your research. Your research essay will reflect how you critically think through a problem. Make sure to discuss a specific research problem you tackled; our Cracking Med School Admissions team often finds it less effective when a med school applicant writes about his or her research broadly.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #6: For the health inequities question / healthcare disparities, incorporate your personal experiences as well as healthcare current issues. We have an entire healthcare current events blog post here, where you can read more about disparities in health.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #7: Write something for the last essay. It can be your “Why Duke Medical School” essay. Yes, we know this is a SUPER long secondary. But, Duke carefully considers its applicants and wants a diverse student body. Therefore, the more perspective you can give them about your background, the better!

    You won’t realize this working on your Duke secondaries, but Duke’s interview is Multiple Mini Interview and the Duke University School of Medicine admissions committee often does not accept update letters.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #8: Because you have the space, don’t forget to incorporate a little bit about “Why Duke Medical School” throughout the essays. Read our Cracking Med School Admissions advice and an example for answering  why this medical school? Talk about projects, programs and research you want to do at Duke. Learn more about Duke Med’s unique curriculum in our Cracking Med School Admissions school profile Duke School of Medicine. 

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #9: Start early and get our help. The Duke secondary not only has several essay, but the essays also have large word limits. Have questions about how you can stand out? Contact us below. Need editing help on your secondary? Dr. Mediratta and Dr. Rizal can personally help you through our secondary essay packages

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #10: For the Duke secondaries prompt, “Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours

    Duke secondary essay examples for advocacy based on previous EXCELLENT secondary essays edited by Dr. Rachel Rizal and Dr. Rishi Mediratta:

    • Advocated for an individual with disabilities
    • Taught / tutored / coached a group of children and advocated for one of the quieter children
    • Advocated for a team member in a club or a sports team
    • Advocated for an individual from a disadvantaged background. This includes personal experiences in patient care – advocated for a patient in a free clinic who did not have resources fo follow-up care

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #11: For the Duke secondaries prompt, “How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society?

    Many students we’ve mentored also write about their reflections on innovation, research, health public policies, and disparities in health.

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Tip #12: There are many similarities between the variety of questions between the Duke Medical School secondary essay prompts and the Duke Multiple Mini Interview. Read our tips for the Duke MMI here!

    [Read more secondary essay tips: University of North Carolina, Stanford, Mount Sinai (Icahn), Cornell ]

    Your medical school application Coaches, Mentors, & Cheerleaders

    We Personally Advise Every Student We Work With.

    Dr. Rachel Rizal

    Rachel Rizal, M.D.

    Changing the trajectory of people’s lives

    Undergraduate
    Princeton University, cum laude

    Medical School
    Stanford School of Medicine

    Residency
    Harvard, Emergency Medicine

    Awards & Scholarships
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    Dr. Rishi Mediratta

    Rishi Mediratta, M.D., M.Sc., M.A.

    Advising students to attend their dream schools

    Undergraduate
    Johns Hopkins University, Phi Beta Kappa

    Medical School
    Stanford School of Medicine

    Residency
    Stanford, Pediatrics

    Awards & Scholarships
    Marshall Scholar
    Tylenol Scholarship
    Global Health Scholar

    stand out from other applicants with our secondary essay edit packages

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    Use this essay guide and workbook to write standout secondaries.

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    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2022-2023

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words max)
    2. (Optional) In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words max)
    3. New Question (worded slightly differently): Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours. Define your view of advocacy.  What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words max)
    4. Not achieving a goal or one’s desire can sometimes be disheartening. What have you learned/gained from your setbacks and disappointments and how does this translate to your current way of thinking? (400 words max)
    5. New Question: Describe a situation in which you had to utilize your values to interact with people from different backgrounds.  How did those values impact the relationship? (400 words max)
    6. Leadership, teamwork, and communication flow synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and as a contributor? What attributes do you possess as a leader and as a team member and how do you apply them on a daily basis? (400 words max)
    7. Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience enhances critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. How will critical thinking be important in your future career? (400 words max)
    8. Potential sources of health inequities include race, gender, education, income, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation. Moments to Movement (M2M) is Duke’s collective stand against systemic racism and injustice. The name signifies going beyond passive moments of reflection and becoming more active as we build to make lasting change for our patients, their loved ones and each other. Describe your understanding of race and its relationship to inequities in health and health care. (400 words max)
    9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words max)
    10. Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application. (no word limit)

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    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2021 – 2022

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words max)
    2. (Optional) In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words max)
    3. Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours. Define advocacy as you view it. What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words max)
    4. Not achieving a goal or one’s desire can sometimes be disheartening. What have you learned/gained from your setbacks and disappointments and how does this translate to your current way of thinking? (400 words max)
    5. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (400 words max)
    6. Leadership, teamwork, and communication flow synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and as a contributor? What attributes do you possess as a leader and as a team member and how do you apply them on a daily basis? (400 words max)
    7. Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience enhances critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. How will critical thinking be important in your future career? (400 words max)
    8. Potential sources of health inequities include race, gender, education, income, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation. Moments to Movement (M2M) is Duke’s collective stand against systemic racism and injustice. The name signifies going beyond passive moments of reflection and becoming more active as we build to make lasting change for our patients, their loved ones and each other. Describe your understanding of race and its relationship to inequities in health and health care. (400 words max)
    9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words max)

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2020-2021

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words max)
    2. (Optional) In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words max)
    3. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words max)
    4. Success can arise from failure. What have you gained from your failed experiences and how does this translate in your current way of thinking? (400 words max)
    5. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (400 words max)
    6. Leadership, teamwork, and communication operate synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and member of a team? What attributes do you possess as a leader and how will you apply them every day? (400 words max)
    7. Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience either enhances or perfects critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. Why is research or critical thinking important to your future career? (400 words max)
    8. Describe your understanding of race and its relationship to inequities in health and health care? (400 words max)
    9. How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words max)

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2019 – 2020

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words max)
    2. (Optional) If one of the above identities do not best describe you, then what identity do you feel most comfortable with? I self-identify as… (50 words max)
    3. (Optional) Race/Ethnicity/Geographic Origin/Socioeconomic Status/ Advantage/Disadvantage/ Religious Affiliation
    4. In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words max)
    5. Describe the community in which you were nurtured. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions you hope to make in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the community better? (500 characters max)
    6. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (500 words max)
    7. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (500 words max)
    8. Success can arise from failure. What have you gained from your failed experiences and how does this translate in your current way of thinking? (500 words max)
    9. Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics including creativity, innovation, discernment, emotional intelligence, application and analysis. Describe a situation in which you utilized critical thinking. Why is critical thinking vital in your future? (500 words max)
    10. Leadership, teamwork, and communication operate synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and member of a team? What attributes do you possess as a leader and how will you apply them every day? (500 words max)
    11. Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application:

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2018 – 2019

    1. Tell us more about who you are. You may provide additional information that expands your self-identity where gender identification, racial and/or ethnic self description, geographic origin, socioeconomic, academic, and/or other characteristics that define who you are as you contemplate a career that will interface with people who are similar AND dissimilar to you. You will have the opportunity below to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words max)
    2. (Optional) In addition to the broad categorization of race, ethnicity, geographic origin, socioeconomic status as provided through your AMCAS application, you may use the text box below to provide additional clarifying information that may reflect the impact of any of these parameters on your development thus far as well as the impact that these may have had on your path to a career in medicine and your plans for the future. (200 words max)
    3. Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (500 words max)
    4. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (500 words max)
    5. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (500 words max)
    6. Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (500 words max)
    7. Critical thinking involves many aspects including curiosity, comprehension, application and analysis. Describe a time when you have utilized critical thinking. How do you anticipate critical thinking being used as part of your career? (400 words max)
    8. Many view medical care as an undeniable right. What responsibility does the medical profession have in taking care of all persons? (400 words max)
    9. (Optional) Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application:

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2017 – 2018

    MD Essay Prompts:
    1. Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words max)
    2. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words max)
    3. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (600 words max)
    4. What qualities will you bring to the practice of medicine? (600 words max)
    5. Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (600 words max)
    6. What role has research had in your preparation for medicine? (250 words max)

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2016 – 2017

    1. Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words max)
    2. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words max)
    3. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (600 words max)
    4. Describe an experience when you were confronted with an individual or group whose values differ from yours? How did you resolve the conflict/ challenge? Describe at least one outcome that the experience created. (600 words max)
    5. Describe a situation where you failed. What did you learn from the experience? Describe at least one functional impact of the experience. (600 words max)
    6. Additional prompts for those pursuing the Primary Care Leadership Track:
      1. Describe a successful leader. What type of leadership skills do you want to cultivate in your training experience and how do you envision doing that? (250 words max)
      2. Have you engaged with the community in the past? How do you hope to understand and impact communities in the future? (250 words max)

    Duke Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts: 2015 - 2016

    1. Describe the community in which you were nurtured or spent the majority of your early development with respect to its demographics. What core values did you receive and how will these translate into the contributions that you hope to make to your community as a medical student and to your career in medicine? What improvements do you think might make the described community better? (600 words max)
    2. Describe a situation where you have chosen to advocate for someone who is different from yourself. What does advocacy mean to you and how has your advocacy developed? How do you see it linked to your role as a physician/leader? What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (600 words max)
    3. What has been your most humbling experience and how will that experience affect your interactions with your peers and patients? (600 words max)
    4. What will challenge you the most in your life career as a health care provider when you have to deal with people unlike yourself (e.g. gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, social background, and other difference)? How do you plan to address these? What resources do you plan to use to address these? (600 words max)
    5. Pick one optional essay:
      1. (Optional) Giving Back To Your Community: What is the value of giving back to your community? Is it a more important attribute of a physician than of others performing other roles within a community? 
      2. (Optional) Toughest Feedback: What is the toughest feedback that you ever received? How did you handle it and what did you learn from it? 
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