One of the most common medical school interview questions you’ll need to prepare for is: “Why do you want to attend this medical school?” On your medical school secondaries and at interviews, you’ll need to provide AdComs with a compelling reason that you are interested in their program in particular.
Clever interviewers may ask this question in various other ways, such as:
The best way to answer this question is to give specific examples of why your interests, experience, and passions align with the school’s mission and focus. Use 2, maybe 3 examples, of strengths of the medical program that will help you advance your career as a physician.
I’ve compiled tips from current med students and former admissions committee members to help you ace this question and stand out as an applicant who will be a great fit for your chosen program.
A great one to start with: Don’t make your answer an infomercial for the school. Check out advice from our Associate Director of Advising, Dr. Ziggy’s:
The first step to answering this question is to research the medical program you’re applying to. First and foremost, your answer to “why this medical school” should be an authentic look into why you believe this is a great program for you based on what you know about it.
Some of the features of medical schools you might want to look into include:
Start researching the school’s mission by thoroughly reading through their website, but don’t stop there. A quick Google search can reveal a lot about the school’s reputation outside of their own website — just search for the institution’s name and click on “News” or “Perspectives.”
It’s also a good idea to check out the school’s presence on social media, both by looking at their own accounts and seeing what others have to say. This sort of research can help you stand out, especially if you learn things from current and past students that’s not as easily defined, like activities from certain clubs or a student-led passion for social justice.
After researching, write down how your experiences line up with what you know about the medical program. I encourage you to write this answer down even if you’re preparing for an interview where you’ll communicate your thoughts verbally.
Avoid generic answers such as “there are lots of research opportunities” or “the community service program looks good.” Instead, highlight areas of your own life that will be compelling to the program where you’re interviewing. Examples might include:
The more in-depth your responses, the better chance you have at standing out. However, avoid just trying to rewrite the mission statement from the school’s website — your response should include storytelling about your own personal experiences and goals, too.
After you describe your unique interest in the school, follow through by sharing how you plan to take full advantage of the unique opportunities while in the program.
If you love a school because of a research opportunity it presents that aligns with your undergraduate research, maybe you’ll continue that same research. If a lab at the medical school would provide a perfect setting, then explain how you may want to utilize that resource.
It’s always a good idea to ask for help from people familiar with your background and passion for a healthcare career. Talk to your pre-health advisor, favorite professor, or another trusted professional about reading and providing feedback on your answer to “why this medical school.”
Here are a few things they may want to provide feedback about:
Once you have a well-developed answer, the first place you’ll be able to use it is on your secondary essays. As succinctly as possible, share why this school of medicine interests you when that prompt is given.
This may go without saying, but don’t just regurgitate your answer from one essay to the next. Offer a unique, well-defined answer specific to each school.
Practice answering this question in mock interviews with peers, your pre-health advisor, or a helpful family member. Don’t just rehearse once — do this enough times that you can comfortably deliver your response to med school admissions committee members without stammering.
Remember, you’ll be more nervous on the day of your interview than you are when practicing. It’s okay to be overly prepared to account for stage fright.
Getting outside support to hone your interview skills can be a major help. If you think your skills could use some work, invest in interview preparation with experienced physician coachs.
Bonus: All our coaches are former admissions committee members.
ChatGPT and similar tools are great for editing and helping you suss out weak spots in your writing or interview question outline. However, a chatbot cannot experience things or have feelings or emotions like a human.
Your humanity and personal experiences are what should shine in the answer to this question. Plus, medical school admissions committees are already considering how to implement measures to deprioritize applications that heavily rely on AI — don’t set yourself up for failure.
Use ChatGPT to help edit and identify issues with your answer, but don’t ask it to create experiences on your behalf.
Because a BS/MD program locks you into a specific institution (or a small group of them) for longer than a traditional medical education, you should be able to express clearly why you picked this medical school and undergraduate program. However, the advice remains the same: Share honest, specific reasons you’re willing to commit the better part of a decade to an individual school.
Crafting and rehearsing this answer is just one part of preparing for a BS/MD interview.
When AdComs ask interviewees why they’re interested in this school, they’re looking for specific examples of why a student might thrive in their program. Committees seek applicants who align with their vision and will positively contribute to their school.
When they ask, “Why us?” they’re looking for answers that show you’re not just applying to the school because you think it’s a good fit for your MCAT score and GPA.
This can feel frustrating for a first-time applicant, but the reality is that the investment an institution makes in each student is significant. It’s vital that they accept students most likely to succeed and improve their reputation in the larger medical community.
This turns the “why this medical school” question around to learn what you bring to the table. It’s a variation on “tell me about yourself” that allows you to explain how your personal experiences and interests make you a valuable addition to the school you’re applying to.
Use this question to highlight your skills, strengths, and passions that mirror the mission of the school.
It may sound overly simplistic, but the best way to sound genuine is to be honest. If you truly enjoy the area where the school is located because your family lives there and it’s where you want to settle one day, then say that. If you’re attracted to their beautiful campus and impressive Match rate, include that in your answer.
Don’t make up answers to make yourself sound better or invent opinions about the institution — at best, they’ll come off disingenuous, and at worst, you’ll be labeled as dishonest.
Medical school is competitive for good reason — physicians are leaders in society with huge responsibilities for the well-being of others. That’s why fewer than half of students who apply to medical school are accepted each year.
You can increase your chances significantly by partnering with MedSchoolCoach for holistic application consulting. Our students double their chances of acceptance by working with experienced Physician Advisors to prepare for applications and the medical school interview.
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