As the end of the medical school application cycle comes around, a number of applicants are comfortably settling into the idea of choosing one school among the handful of acceptances they’ve received. Many, many, many more applicants, though, are finding themselves in a strange limbo full of medical school rejection and wait lists.
“Is it too late to start applying for jobs after graduation?”
“Where am I going to live?”
“How did this happen?”
I, myself, was one of those students during my first application cycle, and the feeling is all too familiar. The uncertainty, the dread, the disgrace, and the anxiety slowly set in as graduation rolled around the corner. After it became apparent I wouldn’t be attending medical school in the fall, I reran the numbers over and over again in my head.
“With my MCAT and GPA, there should have been X% chance I would get in. Factoring in Y and Z, my percentage range should have been near X%.”
But that’s not how it actually works.
Behind every application is a dynamic, smart, and qualified scholar that seeks to devote their life to the service of others. Inside every admissions office difficult decisions are being made in order to fill a limited number of seats. And because of the large disparity between these numbers, many qualified applicants spend their springs coping with rejection letters.
With the increase in applicants and the trend towards more post-graduate matriculates, fewer first-time applicants are getting in right out of school. The competition is tough, and each person applying has an amazing life story, much like yours. That’s okay. If you’re driven to become a physician, you should not be disheartened; instead, put your gap year to good use.
Call the schools you didn’t get into and find out what your application could use. It may be difficult to hear, but it will give you the chance to improve your application. Also, take the time to diversify your skills and pursue your interests outside of medicine. I used the time to join a community orchestra, work with the physically and mentally disabled, run some marathons, do some scientific research, play some Pokemon, volunteer in a high school, and get married.
If you’ve made it to the application stage, you’re in a very fortunate subset of people who wanted to become physicians. You’ll get there. Keep going.
Guest Post – By Dan (University of Minnesota Medical School – Class of 2021)