Kickstart Your AACOMAS Secondaries: A Guide to Touro Medical School Essay Prompts


By: Ryan Kelly

Half the battle with secondaries is generating reusable content, and Touro Medical School (California) is the perfect place to start for hopeful osteopaths. By completing Touro’s longer prompts, you can prepare yourself with most of the needed material for other DO secondaries.

In terms of generating content, Touro is comparable to UCLA’s MD secondaries:

The Hardest Secondary? How to Conquer the 10 Secondary Essays for UCLA (Geffen) School of Medicine


Touro California DO Secondaries Essay Topics ('15 - '16)


1. Why have you chosen to apply to the TUC College of Osteopathic Medicine? (250 words)

Paragraph 1 (4-5 sentences) - Concrete connections

Search Touro’s website for research, community service, and global health opportunities that match your past experiences. Explain how your insights can contribute to TUC’s goals, and vice versa. Focus on 2-3 opportunities in depth. Get as specific as possible. For example--rather than merely expressing interest in a certain lab facility, mention the projects being conducted there that relate to your background or interests. Explain why continuing these activities will be crucial to your medical education.

Paragraph 2 (4-5 sentences) - Abstract connections

Besides these concrete connections, try to include an abstract connection to the school. Read its mission and make note of the values expressed (innovative education, active community involvement, a focus on public health and translational research). Without being too overt, hint at how their focus, culture, or emphases align with your outlook on medicine and patient care.

Paragraph 3 (4-5 sentences) - Location/population

Since there are many DO schools with similar opportunities, try to formulate some connection with the school’s location and surrounding communities. Check out the information on Touro’s community service and Solano/TU clinic web pages to get a better idea. Express personal investment in the opportunities you find, linking them to your own vision of healthcare.

Also do research about Vallejo, CA, especially in terms of its demographics. Take time to learn about the culture and needs of the population, so that you can properly communicate your goals and motivations for serving them in the future.

Here’s a solid example:

I want to attend TUCOM-CA because I see a synergy between your institution’s mission and my desire for teaching, leadership, and extracurricular involvement as I pursue a career in osteopathic medicine. As a Northern California native, having a support system in such close proximity would be an additional benefit. Moreover, I am attracted to the close-knit, friendly atmosphere at Touro University, since this is a similar type of environment I thrived in throughout my undergraduate education.

With background experience as a Physics teacher’s assistant, a supplemental instruction leader, and a tutor for underserved youth, I would like to continue refining my communication and interpersonal skills with a diversity of individuals. As the previous president of CSUSM’s Pre-Health Society, I have developed my leadership and teamwork skills, and at Touro, I will have the opportunity to enhance all of these skills as I learn to serve my community as an Osteopathic Physician. I see myself participating in organizations such as Lifestyle Medicine Club, Women’s Suitcase Clinic, and the Touro Dance Team, as well as engaging in various research opportunities.

My long-term goal is to return to Sutter county--a rural Northern California area where I was raised--so that I can utilize the skills and experience obtained during school and residency to improve the health of my local community. Through embracing osteopathic principles and practices, I hope to provide families who reside in this remote region with an individualized and holistic approach to care.

241 words

*Use this “Why Touro” answer as a template for other DO school-specific prompts. Try to retain as much of your personal story/background as possible, while swapping in new information for the schools.

Click here for more on How to Answer “Why Our School” Essays


2. Why should the Committee accept you into this year’s class? (250 words)

The two 500-word prompts below will give you plenty of time to discuss osteopathy itself, and why you align so well with its principles.

So for this prompt, it’s probably best to highlight your general strengths (leadership, interpersonal skills, creativity, insight, adaptability, problem solving, poise, etc.). But you’ll need to prove these general strengths through specific examples or stories. Ideally, the examples will illustrate your ability to improve your community and thrive in new environments. Here are some ways to rethink the prompt’s question:

  • Have you collaborated successively on meaningful projects?

  • Are you someone who can lead, but also follow when necessary?

  • Are you capable of educating, but also open-minded enough to learn from others?

  • Can you work effectively with people unlike yourself?

  • Have you ever found innovative solutions to problems, or deftly handled emergency situations?

  • Have you worked in special fields, areas of study, or patient populations that provide you with unique insights?

Dedicate 2-3 sentences in the conclusion to connecting your accomplishments and qualities to Touro’s goals as a school. Here’s what they’re looking for:     


3. Please describe the personal characteristics you possess and the life experiences you have had that would contribute to your success at becoming an outstanding Osteopathic Physician. Please include information that will enable the Admissions Committee to understand your unique qualities. (500 words)

These two 500-word prompts essentially boil down to “Why are you good for osteopathy?” and “Why is osteopathy good for you?”  

But pay attention to word choice in the prompts. “Personal characteristics you possess,” “life experiences,” and “unique qualities” suggest that Touro wants you to go beyond what’s on your resume and discuss more off-paper events or characteristics.

Think about it: they don’t want you to share the volunteer or clinical experience that you have in common with everyone else. They want to discover your X factor, your je ne sais quoi.

For example, do you practice yoga, meditation, or mindfulness in your daily life? When did you start? Why is it important to you? How does it relate to being a good DO?

  • Or, do you have a hobby that requires dexterity, athleticism, or coordination? When did you start? How did you get better? What did you learn about the body as a result? How does that relate to being a good DO?

  • Or, have you ever fixed something? What is a short-term repair or a long-term fix? What were the steps involved? Did you make mistakes? What did you learn, and how does that relate to being a DO?

  • Or, how often have you traveled in the US and abroad? Enough to leave people in envy and awe? What surprised you about other cultures? What were the radical differences in worldviews and ideologies between the places you visited? Were there discrepancies in terms of health and education? How has cultural exposure influenced your outlook on holistic care?

These are just a few ways of reasking the question. With 500 words, you can probably choose two different experiences to cover in depth. Be sure to prove your qualities through detailed stories and examples.

It’s important to answer the prompt, but the majority of the space should be dedicated to showing. For your essay to be memorable, it needs to get specific. It needs to shine through with crisp and lively details. Otherwise it will just be another string of unconvincing generalities.


4. Please describe your exposure to and understanding of Osteopathic Medicine. Content may include your initial introduction to the profession, its history, use in medical practice today, or any other aspects that may highlight Osteopathic Medicine’s uniqueness and synergy with your envisioned future practice of medicine. (500 words)

If you or a family member has been treated by a DO, that’s usually a great way to start because it creates personal investment and emotional appeal. But try not to slip into sentimental cliches. Instead, focus on your fascination with the doctor’s approach and the sense of empowerment that osteopathy provided you and/or your loved ones.  

If your initial exposure was more recent, focus on how osteopathy surprised you and upended your expectations. Without being disparaging toward MDs, try to isolate how osteopathy was different from other healthcare experiences, and why this attracted you so much.

Use 1-2 examples from your recent DO shadowing or volunteering to illustrate osteopathy’s importance in providing quality care. Pick examples in which a DO’s unique approach benefitted patients who otherwise seemed hopeless. Perhaps create a thesis of sorts, in which you outline the different roles of a DO, and explain how they all add up to your ideal vision for care.

Without sounding like a know-it-all, you could potentially comment on osteopathy’s growing traction in healthcare, and why its approach will become more and more popular to patients in the future. You could situate osteopathy as an important wave in healthcare progress, focusing on the gaps that it fills in traditional care.

If you’re a student that discovered osteopathy late in your journey, you might try a retrospective approach, where you trace the elements of the DO philosophy that have been part of your experiences all along. Position osteopathy as a long-held inclination, even if you didn’t necessarily plan to be a DO right off the bat. By the end of the essay, your recent DO experience can serve as the catalyst for your decision--an epiphany that changed the trajectory of your goals.  

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