If you find yourself in the vexing position of not having been accepted to medical school by the end of the recruiting season, take heart. You don’t necessarily have to relinquish your dream of becoming…
If you find yourself in the vexing position of not having been accepted to medical school by the end of the recruiting season, take heart. You don’t necessarily have to relinquish your dream of becoming a physician — although you likely feel otherwise.
The below recommendations have helped numerous medical school applicants who found themselves in the same position.
Ask for help. The truth is, not all medical school admissions teams are willing to review candidate applications or grant interviews solely for the purpose of helping you improve your chances of acceptance, but keep asking and you will find some who are.
Be sure to express your gratitude — starting with thanking them for responding to your email or answering your phone call — even if your request is ultimately turned down. Demonstrating gratitude may get you farther than you think. You can also find tips online from non-profit and student-driven websites such as Student Doctor Network.
Consider where you applied. Take a hard look at your GPA and MCAT score and be honest with yourself. If you have an MCAT of 502 and applied only to Ivy League schools, reexamine your list and look for realistic possibilities.
Students with average or lower scores should not apply only to top-ranked schools. If you’re counting on special connections to get you into medical school, you will more than likely be disappointed. This strategy rarely works, particularly now when only 30 to 40 percent of applicants are accepted to top-ranked schools nationally.
Cast a wide net. Naturally, the more secondary applications you submit, the greater your chances of being accepted. Your best bet is to apply to all the state schools within the state you reside and most, if not all, osteopathic schools. Additionally, visit the Medical Student Admissions Requirements on the AAMC website to find which in-state and out-of-state private schools matriculate high percentages of out-of-state students.
Be sure your experiences are balanced. Although your application may demonstrate a breadth of experience with shadowing, volunteering, research, leadership, hobbies and other key categories, consider the number of hours you are reporting for each.
For example, if you reported 15 hours of shadowing time and 2,000 hours of rock climbing over the same two-year period, committee members may get the impression that rock climbing is far more important to you than shadowing.
Be truthful. More and more, secondary essays require applicants to reflect, and some require applicants to comment on an unpleasant event. The essay parameters are meant to trigger contemplation and get you to address challenging questions, and they require honesty.
Your best bet is to avoid half-truths or spinning a story in a way that tries to trick the reader. Responses that lack open reflection easily fall to the bottom of the application pile, even if your GPA and MCAT scores are terrific.
You don’t have to reveal every single detail of your experience, but if your response lacks substance or minimizes a crucial situation, the admissions committee is likely to wonder whether or not they can trust you with patients. Questions we often ask ourselves during committee meetings include, “Would you want this person to be responsible for your patients overnight?” and “Would you want them to take care of your family?”
Hopeful students who make their career dream come true are those who are willing to reflect on their approach and accept advice to improve and resubmit their applications.