By: Ryan Kelly
Loma Linda is one of the rare medical schools with a religious affiliation (Seventh-day Adventist). Although other schools have a religious bent (see: Georgetown and Creighton), no other school’s secondaries have as much ideological commitment to the Christian lifestyle.
Some students apply to Loma Linda’s medical school specifically because of this distinction, while others just want to add another California school to their list or apply to a good statistical match school.
Before you apply, however, you need to know what the school represents and requires from its applicants, and we can easily glean that knowledge from the secondaries.
Loma Linda Secondaries (2015 - 2016) - 750 characters
*There are two shorter prompts about their alcohol/drug policy and your willingness to abide by school codes. We haven’t included those here, since you must answer “Yes” to both if you’re serious about applying. Don’t apply if you’re not comfortable with their terms.
*750 characters is approximately 6-7 sentences, so be economical with your words. No room here for fluffy sentences. Make every one of them count.
#1 Describe the extent and source of your knowledge of Loma Linda University School of Medicine (LLUSM).
This question is testing whether you know anything about Loma Linda beyond what you scanned on the school’s website. If you have any connections to current students or alumni, this is a perfect opportunity to drop their names and share whatever insights they’ve given you.
If you’ve visited the school or spoken directly with a representative, you can recall these experiences and provide your impressions of the program.
Try to avoid citing the website directly or repeating self-evident information. They’re not testing whether you can paraphrase facts about their curriculum.
If the internet is your only source, then go below the surface with your exploration. Look up specific research or outreach projects from current students, faculty, or alumni. The alumni association’s site (http://llusmaa.org) is a good supplement to the main site’s tabs.
#2 What makes LLUSM particularly attractive to you?
If you share their religious affiliation, then explain why Seventh-day Adventism is integral to your learning and future medical practice.
Even if you’re not a Seventh-day Adventist, you should still share a bit about your own faith and explain why you’re seeking an education with a religious or spiritual distinction.
Besides abstract connections to the school’s mission and values, you should also establish concrete connections with their opportunities, such as research, mission trips, and community volunteering. Bridge your past experiences to your future contributions at Loma Linda.
#3 What qualities make you a desirable candidate for admission to LLUSM?
With your limited space, you should share 1-2 qualities that match their mission (such as “service,” “developing the whole person,” or “reaching the world”). Prove these characteristics through examples of your past work and experiences.
After establishing how you’ll fit into Loma Linda, you should also show how you’ll add to the school’s diversity. If you’re a Seventh-day Adventist, suggest 1-2 ways that your faith and religious practices differ from the norm. If you have a separate faith altogether, assert 1-2 ways that your unique perspective could enhance Loma Linda’s values or goals.
When explaining your “diversity,” try to convey a synergy with the school’s culture despite the apparent differences that exist.
#4 Discuss how your spiritual experience has influenced your life and how you integrate it into your daily life.
If space allows, you should open with an epiphany, the moment when you grasped the importance of your faith. This often occurs during times of stress, grief, relief, or transformation. Show how your faith helped you navigate a difficult situation.
Then transition into the ways you’ve applied your faith since the epiphany. Perhaps show the value of faith during other challenging moments, or explain how you’ve used your faith to help others face similar problems.
It’d be wise to illustrate your faith’s role in your academic success, at least in terms of relieving stress or refocusing your efforts. Ultimately, you should show faith as something that provides balance and purpose in your life.
When I was little, I immigrated to the U.S. with my grandparents to find religious freedom. They taught me how to pray and used parables from the bible as bedtime stories. As a child, I made the sign of the cross before exams and carried a rosary in my pocket. This tradition made me feel safe and protected all throughout my education, even into my college endeavors. I attribute my success to my spirituality and faith, because I couldn’t have gotten here without them.
#5 What experiences in your life would illustrate your perspective on service to others?
The word ‘illustrate’ suggests a desire for storytelling, so you should opt for 1-2 specific anecdotes rather than a big catalogue of all your service experiences. Use scenes or examples from your activities to exemplify their larger meaning.
Make sure to choose moments that capture your ‘perspective’ on the importance of service. Share moments that clarified your purpose or motivation, or people and situations that altered your approach towards service.
Even though service is a selfless act, it’s smart to show how it benefits you as well. Without sounding too self-interested, explain the personal benefits you derive from serving others.
#6 As a Christian educational institution the medical curriculum integrates spiritual, ethical, and relational issues from a Christian perspective into the practice of medicine. Weekly chapel services and religion courses are part of this program. Please respond to the above as it relates to your personal educational and career goals.
This prompt is easier to answer if you’re a Christian. But either way, it’s not that tough to find a Christian virtue that relates to medicine: helping the poor and sick, aiding the “least of our brothers,” openly accepting all people, sacrificing for others, exhibiting compassion, humility, and forgiveness. These are just a few. In your response, indicate how learning more about Christian faith will strengthen your medical knowledge and practice.
For example, Christ’s apostle Luke, one of the Gospel writers, is credited as a doctor in the Bible. Catholics even treat him as the patron saint of physicians and surgeons, which shows Christ’s affinity for healing, also exhibited through the “miracles” he performed on blind men, lepers, and cripples. In your essay, you could refute the misconception of faith and science as opposing forces, and illustrate the power of them working together.
If you’re not a Christian, explain how your faith aligns with certain Christian values. Then focus on how further exposure to those values will aid in your understanding of medicine and healing.
#7 Describe your involvement with your religious group:
If you’re Seventh-day Adventist or other Christian, quickly explain your worship practices (mass or prayer groups), and then transition into your acts of religious service and volunteering. If you’re not a Christian, explain your comparable rituals (temple, mosque, meditation, support groups, etc.) and then discuss how you’ve engaged the community through your group.
If you have any special roles (lectern, choir singer, youth minister, etc.), explain how they fit your personality and fulfill your sense of duty and purpose. Highlight the wisdom, inspiration, or joy you offer others through these roles, but also explain how they enhance your own faith.
End the essay with a future projection of how you’ll continue exploring or strengthening your faith at Loma Linda. Mention 1-2 specific opportunities in their religious curriculum that excite or intrigue you, hinting at how you plan to integrate Christian virtues into your own spirituality.
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