Medical School Diversity Essay Examples

Medical School Diversity Essay Examples and Tips

Diversity secondary essay questions are a common prompt in secondary medical school applications. Diversity essays are extremely open-ended and broad. Many premedical students struggle with this secondary essay prompt because it is broad. Each year, our Cracking Med School Admissions team receives hundreds of questions from applicants about how to write about diversity in your secondary essays? Our Cracking Med School Admissions team thinks you can use the broad nature of diversity essay prompts to your advantage! Use your response to your diversity essays as a way to discuss an aspect of your application you have not been able to elaborate on already in your other secondary essays for that specific school. Additionally, you can use diversity secondary essays to augment your awesomeness to admissions officers through discussing your passions in medicine and conveying your leadership experiences! If you want to read medical school diversity essay examples, skip down below!

This diversity essay medical school essay blog post will cover:

What are Medical School Diversity Essays?

Medical school diversity essays are questions on medical school secondary applications that applicants write as part of the medical school application process. Medical schools value diversity in their student bodies because it leads to a more dynamic learning environment where students can learn from each other and benefit from diverse perspectives and experiences. Additionally, medical schools want to recruit students who aspire to improve healthcare in different ways. For examples, some applicants’ strengths lie in research. Other applicants thrive in creating public health programs to improve community health. Still other applicants are interested in narrative medicine and want to inspire others through future books they write about the human condition. 

Diversity essays provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their unique personal experiences, cultural background, educational experiences, extra-curricular activities, and perspectives. Applicants can express how they will contribute to the diversity of the medical school community.

As stated earlier, diversity essays are broad. Applicants are asked to describe how their culture background, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or any other characteristic that defines them has shaped their life experiences and perspective.

Topics you can discuss on your medical school diversity essay include:
  • Personal background – ethnicity, socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion
  • Perspectives from your cultural background
  • Family background and life circumstances with regards to upbringing
  • Adversity and challenges
  • Healthcare experiences that reflect your motivation to pursue a career in medicine
  • Unique non-healthcare passions and activities
  • Courses that inspired you
  • Majors and minors in college
  • Research
  • Summer internships
  • Jobs
  • Gap year activities
  • Post-graduate degrees
  • Personal qualities, including leadership skills and your personal strengths

Remember that secondary application essays should complement your primary application essays.

Medical School Diversity Essay Prompts

Diversity secondary essay questions may be phrased in a multitude of ways. Diversity essays have a wide range of character limit; some medical schools only allow 1,000 characters while other medical schools have no word limit. Additionally, some diversity secondary prompts are optional while other diversity secondary prompts are mandatory.

To better understand what diversity essays are and how broad they can be, let’s take a look a sample medical school diversity essay prompts. 

Harvard Medical School Diversity Essay Prompt
  • If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.

As listed in the Harvard Medical School prompt, you can write about:

  1. Demographic variables, such as ethnic, racial, social, gender, religious, etc. diversity that have substantially shaped your life or your passion for medicine
  2. Personal circumstances/hardships that have shaped your growth
  3. A specific passion that you have cultivated and pursued over time (for example, sexual health, LGBTQ advocacy, etc.) You should further write about how this passion/activity that you have pursued has allowed you to develop qualities that you believe contribute to your individual diversity.

Note: You basically can write about anything.

In essence, these diversity secondary essay questions are asking you how your unique qualities/experiences will serve their medical community AND will help make you an excellent physician.

Let’s take a look and examine other medical school secondary essay prompts:

Yale School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Yale School of Medicine values diversity in all its forms. How will your background and experiences contribute to this important focus of our institution and inform your future role as a physician?  

Read a Yale medical school diversity essay example below!

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Optional: The (Johns Hopkins) Admissions Committee values hearing about each candidate for admission, including what qualities the candidate might bring to the School of Medicine if admitted. If you feel there is information not already addressed in the application that will enable the Committee to know more about you and this has influenced your desire to be a physician, feel free to write a brief statement in the space below. You may address any subject you wish, such as being a first generation college student, or being a part of a minority group (whether because of your sexual orientation, religion, economic status, gender identity, ethnicity) or being the child of undocumented immigrants or being undocumented yourself, etc. Please note that this question is optional and that you will not be penalized should you choose not to answer it.

A special point to notice here: This essay is optional. See our thoughts below in the FAQ section as to whether you should write this essay or not. Also, read an example Johns Hopkins diversity essay below!

And here are even more secondary essay prompts from various schools….

Baylor College of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Indicate any special experiences, unusual factors or other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating you, including, but not limited to, education, employment, extracurricular activities, prevailing over adversity. You may expand upon but not repeat TMDSAS or AMCAS application information. This section is mandatory. Please make sure you submit an essay or your application will not be reviewed by the committee. 
Drexel University College of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • What else do you feel is important for us to know about you? You can use this space to highlight something not addressed in your application, including new experiences not in your AMCAS application. You can also talk about how COVID -19 impacted you. For example, it may have caused disruptions or changes in your plans. If there is something you would like to share regarding how this event impacted you, share that information here.
Duke University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • No word limit & Optional: Please let us know of any additional information that you would like us to consider while reviewing your application.

Special note: Duke University School of Medicine has THREE diversity essays. Applicants can really leverage this an opportunity to give a holistic and varied view about themselves!

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Please share with us something about yourself that is not addressed elsewhere in your application and which could be helpful to the Admissions Committee as we review your file.
Georgetown University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Is there any further information that you would like the Committee on Admissions to be aware of when reviewing your file that you were not able to notate in another section of this or the AMCAS Application?
George Washington University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • What makes you a unique individual? What challenges have you faced? How will these factors help you contribute to the diversity of the student body at GW? 
Stanford University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • The (Stanford) Committee on Admissions regards the diversity (broadly defined) of an entering class as an important factor in serving the educational mission of the school. The Committee on Admissions strongly encourages you to share unique, personally important and/or challenging factors in your background which may include such discussions as the quality of your early education, gender, sexual orientation, any physical challenges, and life or work experiences. Please describe how these factors have influenced your goals and preparation for a career in medicine and may help you to uniquely contribute to the Stanford learning environment.
  • Optional: Please include anything else that will help us understand better how you may uniquely contribute to Stanford Medicine?

Note: Stanford University School of Medicine has multiple essays where you can write about your “diverse” experiences. Other than Stanford secondary essay questions about how you want to take advantage of Stanford’s curriculum, the rest of the Stanford University School of Medicine essay prompts are very open-ended!

The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • How will your unique attributes (e.g., cultural or socioeconomic background, lifestyle, work experiences) add to the overall diversity of the Alpert Medical School community?
Tufts University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Feinberg’s mission is to train future leaders in medicine who will serve their patients, communities and society. Describe one specific interest in medicine and how FSM, located in Chicago which is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, will help you achieve this professional goal
  • The Feinberg School of Medicine values diversity as a measure of excellence. We define diversity as the totality of the characteristics and experiences of our students. We believe that a diverse student body improves the educational environment and the ability of our graduates to serve an increasingly diverse patient population. Narrative Descriptions: Everyone has their own narrative. Please provide more detail about how your experiences would enrich the Northwestern community. 

Note: Northwestern University has TWO diversity essays! In the first essay prompt, your essay topic should be more related to healthcare and medicine. But, in the second prompt, you can write about anything!

Washington University School of Medicine Secondary Application Diversity Essay Prompt
  • Optional: Is there anything else you would like to share with the Committee on Admissions?

How to Write About Diversity in Your Secondary Essays

Our goal at Cracking Med School Admissions when helping students strategize and edit their secondary application essays is to always help students stand out. Yes, that means, we want students to stand out in every single essay, including this open-ended diversity essay question.

It is incredibly important to do THREE THINGS when it comes to your diversity essays:

1. Include anecdotes.

You want to make sure that you show your readers how specific experiences and demographic factors have shaped you as an individual, rather than tell them.

Examples of anecdotes include:

  • Demographics – if you are going to discuss something from your demographic background, don’t just say where you are from. SHOW your culture through anecodotes and stories. For examples, premedical students in the past have talked about cooking a cultural meal with their grandparents. Other medical school applicants have talked about a grandparent’s or parent’s experience with the American healthcare systems.
  • Challenges – Give specific instances where you faced a challenge. What was the challenge? How did you overcome the challenge?
  • Patient care stories – Give anecodotes about memorable patient experiences. What were your interactions with a patient? Why was the patient in the hospital? What happened? What are your reflections about the human experience and human condition? 
  • Leadership – give a specific challenge you faced as a leader or a specific event that you organized. Alternatively, you can talk about a time when you led a team or founded an organization / initiatives.

2. Connect your stories to medicine.

How will your experiences help you become a better doctor? That is the question that is relevant to almost every single prompt regardless of if it is explicitly worded as such or not. You absolutely must discuss how your past experiences and the qualities you have cultivated through these experiences will help you in medicine. For example, you can illustrate how your experiences with patient advocacy or within medical teams will help you as a future doctor; it is a good idea to include particularly challenging patient encounters and how you grew from such experiences. You should further write about leadership, teamwork, resilience, and other qualities learned from your experiences—make the explicit connection to how you will use these qualities as a doctor.

3. Tailor your diversity essays TO EACH MEDICAL SCHOOL.

Connect your stories and experiences to what you will do at the medical school. You can talk about how you want to do research with a specific professor or work with a specific club to pioneer a new initiative. Talk about how your presence at the medical school will enhance the community.

Different schools have different strengths. You must do your research on each school that you are applying to, and try to connect your experiences to the schools’ strengths.

Moreover, different schools have different needs. If there is a specific problem in the regional community that the school belongs to that you feel you are poised to solve (for example, homeless health, refugee health, etc.), you can further tailor your essay to a medical school by making that connection.

Be creative to show EACH INDIVIDUAL medical school that you would be a standout contributor to their community.

Frequently Asked Questions about Diversity Secondaries

We want to share with you frequently asked questions about diversity secondaries. Our responses below are here to help you strategize your secondary essay topics.

Again, our goal is to help you STAND OUT in every single part of your application, including your secondary applications!

Remember, the point of the diversity essay is to help you discuss the strengths of your application. Whatever you write should complement the other responses and other essays in each school’s secondary application. Each applicant will have his or her own unique strengths, stories, and experiences, so if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Mediratta and Dr. Rizal, who literally read thousands of secondary essays each year!

What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen on diversity essays?

This is our biggest advice for medical school diversity essays:

Applicants often think that they have to write about their personal background, specifically culture, ethnicity, race, and/or socioeconomic status. While there are some secondary applications that ask for specifically those topics, most diversity essay prompts are broad.  We often encourage students to talk about other extra-curricular activities and passions UNLESS they their cultural background plays a significant role in their pursuit towards a career in medicine.

You can think about the following questions:

  • What will you bring to the medical school class?
  • How will you change healthcare (and how have you already started on that journey)?
  • What are your strengths as a person?
Can the topic of my secondary essay be the same as topics I wrote about in my primary application personal statement?

Yes! Absolutely! However, we would suggest that you write about a different angle. 

For example, if in your primary application personal statement you talked about your research and what you did in your research, in your diversity essay medical school, talk about a challenge you faced in your research project. Or, talk about a different study or research lab your were involved with. Finally, premeds may write about teaching and mentoring younger individuals in their labs, again, to give a different angle in their diversity essays for medical school.

Can I “recycle” or “reuse” my diversity essay response for multiple schools?

Yes! What we typically advise students is to use most of the essay as a template or starting point. And then, tweak the essay as necessary based on the number of words or characters available. If applicable, you can tailor the diversity essay towards each school. 

Many students will have 2-3 “diversity essay medical school topics and essays” that they draw from. And, depending on the medical school and other prompts, they will pick and choose which essay to use.

Can I talk about a challenge in my diversity essay?

Definitely. Make sure you did not use this essay for another essays like a “challenge” prompt for that specific school’s secondary. Discuss how overcoming the challenge has helped you grow, and what you will contribute to the medical school student body. 

Can I talk about how COVID-19 impacted me and my application in my diversity essay?

Typically, talking about COVID-19 challenges isn’t the strongest topic for the diversity essay. But, if you faced a challenge during the  COVID-19 pandemic and took action to improve society or healthcare, then you can definitely use those experiences! Also, another secondary application strategy to consider: make sure there is not another prompt that allows you to talk about COVID.

You can read about an ICU expererience during COVID down below in our diversity secondary essay examples!

Medical School Diversity Essay Examples

You can include multiple experiences in one diversity secondary essay, but make sure that your transitions are seamless. Furthermore, in such essays, you want to pay attention to your paragraph breaks to further communicate your strong attributes and diverse experiences with maximum impact. Remember—make it as easy as possible for your reader to understand your writing and to visualize you as a strong physician.

Below are 2 medical school diversity essay examples answers from a student who then received an interview at both Yale University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Yale Medical School Diversity Essay Example


Prompt: Yale School of Medicine values diversity in all its forms. How will your background and experiences contribute to this important focus of our institution and inform your future role as a physician?  

When I first arrived at UPenn, I was made acutely aware of an issue that plagued our campus community: an extensive culture of sexual assault. I felt compelled to act in opposition. I joined Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) in my first semester and later became a Sexual Assault Counselor.

A lesson I learned as Co-Chair of ASAP is that leaders must critically examine their communities to meet unfulfilled needs. I transformed our programming to better serve survivors with an intersectional lens. I held a workshop at UPenn with a community leader from the Movement for Black Lives and discussed how racial justice must inform our advocacy. This focus was integrated into our Take Back the Night advocacy event, as we spoke at length about how to serve the needs of black and trans survivors. I piloted the expansion of this event to being held with eight other schools.

Moreover, the Title IX reporting process at UPenn is quite complex and not readily accessible. Given the number of sexual trauma survivors at our university, I worked to clarify this process for our student community by directing an educational campaign, to be released in the next academic year. I played the leading role in a meeting with the Title IX Coordinator and Associate Vice President for Equity, as well as Directors and Associate Directors from various UPenn Centers—we discussed my vision for the project and dove into specifics of the campaign. I enjoyed collaborating with individuals who direct initiatives and policy changes for the safety of our campus community of 25,000 students.

As a physician, I will continue to lead the movement to build a world free of sexual violence and gender inequity. I strive to integrate clinics that offer primary, psychiatric, and gynecological care for sexual trauma survivors into national healthcare. These clinics will also offer forensic examinations led by Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE), as well as social and legal support. By providing a centralized location for all of the care needs of survivors, I want to limit the difficulties of navigating the healthcare system often faced by this vulnerable population. I would love to work with Dr. Jubanyik to drive this initiative forward and promote health equity for survivors at Yale. Furthermore, statewide tracking of SAFE centers is inconsistent. I want to generate a national database to consolidate these programs and help survivors better access them. I would love to extend my advocacy for survivors as a member of the student group, Prenatal Partners, to be able to advocate for a trauma-informed approach to medical care for expectant mothers.

As a medical student and physician, I am eager to leverage my skill in storytelling to inform and strengthen healthcare. I believe that compelling stories can be important catalysts for change, particularly in the context of my aspirations to serve women and survivors. I would love to work with Dr. Reisman to write a journalistic novel on women’s sexuality and resilience deriving from my longitudinal patient relationships.

Johns Hopkins Medical School Diversity Essay Example

Optional: The Admissions Committee values hearing about each candidate for admission, including what qualities the candidate might bring to the School of Medicine if admitted. If you feel there is information not already addressed in the application that will enable the Committee to know more about you and this has influenced your desire to be a physician, feel free to write a brief statement in the space below. You may address any subject you wish, such as being a first generation college student, or being a part of a minority group (whether because of your sexual orientation, religion, economic status, gender identity, ethnicity) or being the child of undocumented immigrants or being undocumented yourself, etc. Please note that this question is optional and that you will not be penalized should you choose not to answer it. 2500 characters

As a Neuro/COVID-19 ICU clinical volunteer operating at the center of the pandemic crisis, I encouraged patients who were suffering the worst of COVID-19 symptoms through our patient call bell system. 

In public health emergencies, I understand how patients can feel detached from and misunderstood by their healthcare systems, causing them to refuse treatments or preventive measures like vaccines. I once had a conversation with an ICU patient who was approaching discharge and refusing to wear a mask. My team respectfully asked questions and listened to his supplication of answers and reasoning. I knew that convincing someone to let go of an entrenched opinion would be difficult. But I tried as hard as I could and felt him soften in conversation. He ultimately wore his mask. I left this interaction with a better understanding of how to approach and care for an individual with a radically different perspective from my own.

I take seriously my responsibility to listen carefully to my patient’s concerns and assure them that recommended measures are medically sound. To promote patient trust in medicine and to address health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, I will work to leverage community partnerships, as I have done as an advocate for survivors. I will listen to what specific communities need and tailor health care delivery accordingly.

Throughout the coronavirus surge, I was able to have a more hands-on role with neurological care in the ICU. After caring for an unconscious patient with moyamoya disease and two ischemic strokes in the Neuro/COVID-19 ICU and learning of her poor prognosis from her physician, I pored through the medical literature. I hoped that studies would reveal something different. The patient’s antiplatelet therapy was proving ineffective. Yet surgery was not a safe option as her unstable moyamoya carried greater postoperative ischemic complication risk. I struggled, unable to find an alternative. Thereafter, I wrote “Between you and me,” excerpted below.

Her eyes are closed, a tube connecting her to her life.

They are draining her cerebrospinal fluid and it should

be yellow. But it’s pink. Like watermelon juice.

The act of writing brought me peace and helped me come to terms with my patient’s suffering.


Nikita’s work in the ICU was featured in U.S. News, “What Premeds Can Learn in Intensive Care Units

We hope this blog post was a great starting point in giving you ideas for how to write a medical school diversity essay.

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