How to Make Up for Medical School Application Deficiencies

Life happens. And life happens to everyone, premeds included. Unfortunately, often the things that come up can be detrimental to a premed in his or her path to becoming a physician. Regardless of the situation, it is important for the student to accurately assess his or her motivations and drive for becoming a physician. If an aspiring physician is certain medical school is the right path, it is important to own and improve upon any deficiencies.

[Read: Prepare to Address Medical School Motivations in Interview.]

Below are three applicant scenarios where hardship or illness played a part in the student’s application prospects. Use these scenarios as a guide if you find yourself in a similar situation.

Applicant A was diagnosed with a serious medical illness during the spring semester of his sophomore year. After the diagnosis, his grades suffered and his GPA dropped. In addition, he had to take a leave of absence from school while working towards a full recovery.

Applicant B had financial limitations and had to work full time during school to support herself. She subsequently did not have time to devote to the traditional premed extracurricular activities, such as clinical work, shadowing, etc.

Applicant C had a family emergency and had to return home out of state to stay with her family there. She had to take a break from college, and then subsequently enroll in a different institution to finish her undergrad degree.

[Read: How to Handle a Personal Crisis as Prospective Medical Student.]

All of these are scenarios that medical school admissions committees have encountered. Although they can seem difficult to overcome, there are specific steps these applicants and the like can take to overcome their deficiencies.

Take an honest assessment of your situation. As mentioned above, it is important to have an introspective conversation with yourself about how much you want to be a physician and what you are willing to commit in order to make this path successful. If at the end of the day, you are certain that you want to become a physician, then take ownership of your deficiencies. Whatever you went through, do not deny or try to skirt around those negative circumstances.

Give context to your situation on your application. You will need to explain what happened, but more importantly, explain how you have become a stronger, more capable applicant and person from the circumstances.

[Read: 2 Medical School Essays That Admissions Officers Loved.]

Let’s use Applicant A as an example. Although this applicant does not have to disclose the specifics of his medical condition in his application, he should mention the circumstances and how they affected his academics. The applicant should also discuss how although difficult, he has improved his capabilities by building desirable attributes, such as resilience and determination.

Assess what you can do to improve your application. Thoroughly evaluate your application to see what can be improved. Sometimes, having an adviser or professor look things over can really help. Maybe you need to increase your GPA. Maybe you need to take a gap year in order to spruce up your extra-curricular activities. It is important to take the necessary time needed in order to truly improve upon your deficiencies to be a better applicant in the future.

In the case of Applicant B, for example, she may want to consider taking a year off of school and devote her time to extracurricular activities. Since she has to work, she may consider working as a medical scribe or a research coordinator in order to get involved in a clinical activity while still supporting herself. That way, when she does apply, she will be a more well-rounded applicant with plenty of relevant experience for medical school.

Get help. Becoming a physician is a long and difficult path. It is acceptable to ask for help from advisers, family and friends. In order to be successful in this path, it is crucial that you take care of yourself. Find a balance between working towards your goals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Having others to help and support you will allow greater time to devote to your academics and activities while honing your strengths in becoming a physician.

More from U.S. News

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