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Hey guys,

In the UBC help guide, it suggests that they'd like to know about things such as overcoming adversity on your application. Just wanted to know if anyone has any experience or suggestions for writing about overcoming adversity in their application. Specifically, how to go about it in an appropriate manner.

In summary, I lost my sister-in-law in an accident and then another close relative 3 months later to long-term substance use, this past year. I realize that others have gone through similar and even more traumatic experiences than this and so I don't know if this is necessarily appropriate to talk about. I'm also conflicted as I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of my family's heart break but also realize that overcoming this with my wife has shaped me immensely.  

If anyone has any thoughts on whether or not to add this and if so, how to approach writing about it, please let me know.

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While I am not currently an applicant, I have thought about this section myself for when I do apply. I personally understand the feeling of not wanting to take advantage of your family’s history, circumstances, etc. However, if you feel you have been negatively impacted, or experienced immense personal growth from these experiences, I would include it and any examples of how that is the case.

If you feel that the point you’re trying to convey still is not there after your revisions, I would not include said experiences.

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That sounds like a tough, life changing experience - and relevant too, given the situation with overdoses in BC.

When I was 17, I almost died by suicide and spent over a month in the hospital. It shaped who I am today, my passion and drive and helped cement the narrative about me in my application in the context of my mental health related work. It’s a tough call whether to put in significant experiences. I oscillated with adding it, some years I left it off, and in more recent years I included it. Do so only if you are comfortable and feel like you can explain it in the character limit. Consider your other entries, does it reinforce the other things you’ve been involved with? Does it add a dimension to yourself in the application? Do you have a verifier for it? Think about how it shaped you, and go from there. 

 

FYI, I included it in my last application and I got in this year for class of 2022. 

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19 minutes ago, riggidyrekt said:

Sort of sounds like you're milking the situation. Unless it caused actionable changes in your lifestyle, I wouldn't include it...

OP said it has shaped them immensely so it sounds like it was a significant life event. Does not need to necessarily cause actionable changes but even giving a different perspective or skill with coping helps your application. 

I understand you want to respect the situation but why not make something positive out of the tragedy. My personal advice on writing this would be to avoid making it emotional. Keep it professional

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19 minutes ago, Eudaimonia said:

OP said it has shaped them immensely so it sounds like it was a significant life event. Does not need to necessarily cause actionable changes but even giving a different perspective or skill with coping helps your application. 

I understand you want to respect the situation but why not make something positive out of the tragedy. My personal advice on writing this would be to avoid making it emotional. Keep it professional

Doesn't matter. I don't think applicants should write about every single hard situation they faced. Like I'm pretty sure everyone at the age of 20 has had a family member that's passed away, got bullied, went through depression, etc... These are significant life events, but it doesn't show that you would be a good doctor, does it? Imagine how dumb it would be if everyone just wrote about every single hardship they faced.

 

If it matters, I think OP should put it in the section where it asks about if extenuating life circumstances affected their performance, but including it in the NAQ seems like a stretch.

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25 minutes ago, riggidyrekt said:

Doesn't matter. I don't think applicants should write about every single hard situation they faced. Like I'm pretty sure everyone at the age of 20 has had a family member that's passed away, got bullied, went through depression, etc... These are significant life events, but it doesn't show that you would be a good doctor, does it? Imagine how dumb it would be if everyone just wrote about every single hardship they faced.

 

If it matters, I think OP should put it in the section where it asks about if extenuating life circumstances affected their performance, but including it in the NAQ seems like a stretch.

Depends what the school wants in the application. UBC likes that you're more out of the box and even say that they do not want to hear how your activities help make you a good doctor. Of course, applicants will do this, but it means that they are accepting of less related experiences. 

If there are more obvious relevant experiences, I agree to prioritize to include those first. But if you have entries left, doesn't hurt to show some more personal side of you if you're comfortable

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I agree with what the people have said above. If you feel comfortable sharing your experiences, then I would say you should go for it. Personally, I included in my entry about how I grew up in a single parent household and having to take care of my younger siblings. Of course, you want to make sure you write it in a way that doesn't come across self-pitying, but I think a lot of these personal adversities shape the person you are and is worth writing about. Let me know if you need any help! 

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On 7/16/2018 at 12:06 PM, daffodils said:

I agree with what the people have said above. If you feel comfortable sharing your experiences, then I would say you should go for it. Personally, I included in my entry about how I grew up in a single parent household and having to take care of my younger siblings. Of course, you want to make sure you write it in a way that doesn't come across self-pitying, but I think a lot of these personal adversities shape the person you are and is worth writing about. Let me know if you need any help! 

Yeah but I think taking care of your siblings is an actionable thing that you took time to do, right? Isn't coping with a family death more of something that you do passively, rather than actively? I would say if you came up with certain coping activities (meditation, yoga, etc.) and put a spin on it saying that the activity was DRIVEN by the personal crisis, it would be an effective EC. But just saying you went through it, I think is a stretch.

 

Like for example if I slipped a disc while gyming, or broke a leg or something, and it caused me a lot of pain + I had to take time off from classes/work harder to catch up, would I put that down as a extracurricular? What about being robbed? Yeah you might argue that that's a bit shallower than what OP said, but shouldn't it still count as an adversity if it caused me actual harm, and was an obstacle I had to get over? It's a slippery slope, isn't it?

 

I think there's probably an argument to put nearly anything down as an EC, but there exists the potential of the observer (who will try to be as objective as possible, but keep in mind that reading an application is SUBJECTIVE by definition), starting to question the authenticity of your other entries because of a few "bad" ones. Either way it doesn't really affect me, but just some food for thought. Good luck with your app OP!

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If you can draw from the CanMeds frame with this experience and apply to becoming a doctor, I think its relevant. Highlight how you overcame this obstacle. Emphasize how you supported the people around you and how you coped with the loss. If you became involved in addictions afterward, I think that would be a strong entry.

I agree that some type of action needs to have taken place to be considered a strong entry. That being said, if you don't have anything else to write in the Diversity of Experiences, I would definitely include it. We can speculate how they quantify our experiences, but at the end of the day, it's all a mystery.

 

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On 7/15/2018 at 5:34 PM, riggidyrekt said:

Sort of sounds like you're milking the situation. Unless it caused actionable changes in your lifestyle, I wouldn't include it...

Thanks for you input. 

I'm going to be quite honest with you. I would suggest in your future career as a doctor not to ever mention to someone, that has gone through a traumatic event, that they are "milking" the situation. It shows a severe lack of empathy, understanding and maturity and minimizes their experience.

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And thank you for your input.

I'll also be honest with you - I would suggest not to ask for other's opinions if you don't really want to hear them. If you even asked this question on the forum, I would think that you were doubting the decision to include it in your app, no? And that's why you wanted to ask what other people thought?

If I were reading an application and someone mentioned a hardship as an extra-curricular, I would be suspicious. But I guess you've made your mind up about including it in your application, best of luck. Sincerely sorry if it came off as a lack of empathy, I was more trying to be honest.

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14 minutes ago, riggidyrekt said:

And thank you for your input.

I'll also be honest with you - I would suggest not to ask for other's opinions if you don't really want to hear them. If you even asked this question on the forum, I would think that you were doubting the decision to include it in your app, no? And that's why you wanted to ask what other people thought?

If I were reading an application and someone mentioned a hardship as an extra-curricular, I would be suspicious. But I guess you've made your mind up about including it in your application, best of luck. Sincerely sorry if it came off as a lack of empathy, I was more trying to be honest.

Honesty doesn't need to be abrasive. 

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Saying: "OP adding a tramautic life experience might be milking it" is abrasive?" Okay lol.

You guys are right, just write it on your application, it's a great tremendous hardship that you overcome and you are so brave. This really shows a lot about the challenges you overcame, and deserves a spot honestly probably at the top of your application. Good luck, you're going to become a great physician because you know the hardship of losing your wife's sister.

 

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1 hour ago, riggidyrekt said:

Saying: "OP adding a tramautic life experience might be milking it" is abrasive?" Okay lol.

You guys are right, just write it on your application, it's a great tremendous hardship that you overcome and you are so brave. This really shows a lot about the challenges you overcame, and deserves a spot honestly probably at the top of your application. Good luck, you're going to become a great physician because you know the hardship of losing your wife's sister.

 

 

Thanks for emphasizing my point.

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3 hours ago, riggidyrekt said:

Saying: "OP adding a tramautic life experience might be milking it" is abrasive?" Okay lol.

You guys are right, just write it on your application, it's a great tremendous hardship that you overcome and you are so brave. This really shows a lot about the challenges you overcame, and deserves a spot honestly probably at the top of your application. Good luck, you're going to become a great physician because you know the hardship of losing your wife's sister.

 

While there may be other experiences that you perceive as more of a hardship, you should never underestimate the value of putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

I’m unsure of what stage of life you are at, but for a moment, try to imagine what it’s like to lose a family member and also support someone through tremendous grief. Each day can be a struggle to just do the basic daily activities and it takes a lot of perseverance and empathy to come out on top. As a future clinician, I hope you can do the work to think a few more steps ahead in what other people’s struggles are and leave your judgment aside. 

As for the OP. My advice would be to do what makes you comfortable. It sounds like, from your brief description that it is had impacted you in a big way. If not for the application, it sounds like it might just be a good exercise to reflect on paper. 

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4 hours ago, riggidyrekt said:

Saying: "OP adding a tramautic life experience might be milking it" is abrasive?" Okay lol.

You guys are right, just write it on your application, it's a great tremendous hardship that you overcome and you are so brave. This really shows a lot about the challenges you overcame, and deserves a spot honestly probably at the top of your application. Good luck, you're going to become a great physician because you know the hardship of losing your wife's sister.

 

I sincerely hope you aren't in medical school because you sound like a major dick. 

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I put my adversity on my medical application and later used it for CARMS. It served me well. I did worry others would see it as self-pity, but I could not simply leave it out as it really shaped me into the person I am today. I think the key is to focus on how it changed you which is harder to convey, and make sure not to focus too much on the tragedy. I also think it depends on luck and who is reading your application and whether they think your sincere or just manipulating the situation to your benefit. 

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I put a significant illness on my application under diversity of experience. I realize it’s a different situation, but similar in the sense that it was something I had to cope with as opposed to something I actively participated in. 

This worked out for me. If you have room, I would include it but I wouldn’t leave something else important off of an application to make room for it.  

Is there anything specific you did to cope/help others cope? If you supported your wife and family by running extra errands or taking a larger share of housework or helping plan funeral arrangements these details might add some objectivity to an entry.

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On 7/23/2018 at 8:32 PM, YesIcan55 said:

I sincerely hope you aren't in medical school because you sound like a major dick. 

On 7/23/2018 at 8:32 PM, YesIcan55 said:

I sincerely hope you aren't in medical school because you sound like a major dick. 

Looking at your post history I'd say the same. I am btw lmao

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On 7/23/2018 at 8:12 PM, Lesigh2 said:

While there may be other experiences that you perceive as more of a hardship, you should never underestimate the value of putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

I’m unsure of what stage of life you are at, but for a moment, try to imagine what it’s like to lose a family member and also support someone through tremendous grief. Each day can be a struggle to just do the basic daily activities and it takes a lot of perseverance and empathy to come out on top. As a future clinician, I hope you can do the work to think a few more steps ahead in what other people’s struggles are and leave your judgment aside. 

As for the OP. My advice would be to do what makes you comfortable. It sounds like, from your brief description that it is had impacted you in a big way. If not for the application, it sounds like it might just be a good exercise to reflect on paper. 

Except it has nothing got to do with empathizing. It has something got to do with putting experiences on an application that arguably don't "fit," and decreasing the credibility of all the other entrances. I've gone through lots of family deaths myself (lost both grandparents and an uncle), but I wouldn't put it in the application. I think my hardships, especially if it's related to death, don't deserve to be on an application that's used to further my career. 

 

It seems everyone's making character judgments about me though, so I think it's best to leave it where it is. Best of luck to OP, and if you guys want to put down that you lost family, a dog died, or got bullied as a kid or something, all power to you I guess. I'm out.

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18 hours ago, riggidyrekt said:

Except it has nothing got to do with empathizing. It has something got to do with putting experiences on an application that arguably don't "fit," and decreasing the credibility of all the other entrances. I've gone through lots of family deaths myself (lost both grandparents and an uncle), but I wouldn't put it in the application. I think my hardships, especially if it's related to death, don't deserve to be on an application that's used to further my career. 

 

It seems everyone's making character judgments about me though, so I think it's best to leave it where it is. Best of luck to OP, and if you guys want to put down that you lost family, a dog died, or got bullied as a kid or something, all power to you I guess. I'm out.

This would absolutely fit under diversity of experiences. It is left completely open. It also has everything to do with empathy when you pass judgment on their experiences and use sarcastic comments to invalidate their experience. News flash: Any difficult experiences that have deeply changed a persons perspective/character will 100% affect your practice as a physician. 

It’s fine if you wouldn’t include it for personal reasons. To say these experiences haven’t shaped OP (when they explicitly say it has) and would provide no benefit to becoming a physician is flat out wrong. The section is literally diversity of experiences. Whether you think it’s taking advantage of the situation is your opinion. However, the point of the application is to give a vignette of who you are and sharing major life experiences is quite pertinent. 

The reason you feel you’ve been met with such animosity is because in this particular instance you have not showed a modicum of empathy. You’ve come across crass and unwilling to reflect.  On a forum of future physicians we all worry that this is how you may treat your patients when you won’t do the work to truly understand their story. Nowadays everyone has a story of a “bad physician” and in my experience, it is often a story of how a patient wasn’t listened to. I hope this is not the case for you. When you join the medical community, what you do will reflect back on the profession. Maybe some food for thought. 

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1 hour ago, Lesigh2 said:

This would absolutely fit under diversity of experiences. It is left completely open. It also has everything to do with empathy when you pass judgment on their experiences and use sarcastic comments to invalidate their experience. News flash: Any difficult experiences that have deeply changed a persons perspective/character will 100% affect your practice as a physician. 

It’s fine if you wouldn’t include it for personal reasons. To say these experiences haven’t shaped OP (when they explicitly say it has) and would provide no benefit to becoming a physician is flat out wrong. The section is literally diversity of experiences. Whether you think it’s taking advantage of the situation is your opinion. However, the point of the application is to give a vignette of who you are and sharing major life experiences is quite pertinent. 

The reason you feel you’ve been met with such animosity is because in this particular instance you have not showed a modicum of empathy. You’ve come across crass and unwilling to reflect.  On a forum of future physicians we all worry that this is how you may treat your patients when you won’t do the work to truly understand their story. Nowadays everyone has a story of a “bad physician” and in my experience, it is often a story of how a patient wasn’t listened to. I hope this is not the case for you. When you join the medical community, what you do will reflect back on the profession. Maybe some food for thought. 

I can see your point, and thanks for conveying it respectfully.

I think expecting future physicians to be empathetic to patients is absolutely reasonable. But expecting future physicians to be overly cautious in explaining why they should not trivialize a personal crisis by putting it on an application (I'm of the belief that some things should not be used for personal gain) to a medical school applicant, in my opinion, is a bit of a stretch.

I said to not "milk it," that comes with 0 negative intentions. That's a neutral statement. The fact that it could be perceived as a negative statement in which I should re-evaluate my career as a physician is actually beyond me lol

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10 hours ago, MarineCorps99 said:

I can see your point, and thanks for conveying it respectfully.

I think expecting future physicians to be empathetic to patients is absolutely reasonable. But expecting future physicians to be overly cautious in explaining why they should not trivialize a personal crisis by putting it on an application (I'm of the belief that some things should not be used for personal gain) to a medical school applicant, in my opinion, is a bit of a stretch.

I said to not "milk it," that comes with 0 negative intentions. That's a neutral statement. The fact that it could be perceived as a negative statement in which I should re-evaluate my career as a physician is actually beyond me lol

I’d say suggesting that someone is “milking” a personal tragedy if they would put it on an app definitely has negative connotations. You may have had no negative intentions, but that doesn’t make the statement neutral. 

 

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