The Medical School Application Process (AKA) The Year of Rejection

6 May

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

Last August, I sent in my final submission to the centralized application system for medical school: AMCAS. I had taken the MCAT twice, written a 500-word personal statement, gotten 6 letters of recommendation from professors, doctors, and my boss, typed in every single class and grade I’d gotten in my first three years at UA, and paid the [substantial] fee to apply to 17 medical schools. Two months later, I got what they call “secondary applications” from all 17 schools who each wanted at least 5 essays and $100 more! My reaction…

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Keep in mind this was when I was in my senior Fall semester, starting my honors thesis, and taking 19 units. Needless to say, I had spread myself pretty thin. However, I rallied [somehow] and got off all the applications before the semester ended, and I went home for Winter Break. Next step was waiting to hear back about interviews. The first e-mail I got back the day after sending $100 to a school that shall remain nameless was: “We have decided not to review your application further. Thank you for your interest.”

It was then that I started to realized that I had gone into this process with an idealized perception of what to expect. Fact is, A LOT of kids want to go to medical school and save the world, one patient at a time. After talking with all the other pre-meds I knew that had applied this year, I felt a lot better knowing that I wasn’t alone in the process. After winter break, I got my first interview invitation. And for the first time in the application process, I felt the validation that I was a competitive applicant.

I got a couple more interviews, and I was told multiple times that each school had most of their seats filled with few left to offer candidates. I waited 6 weeks after my first interview to find out whether I had gotten accepted or not. When the letter finally showed up in my mailbox, I opened it up….

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…and read through my fingers, “We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for the entering class of Fall 2013.” I was crushed. I felt great after that interview, and I had very high expectations for that first letter. With one down and two to go, I was feeling less than confident and ready to resign to the fact that I wouldn’t get in. The second letter came, and again, “We’re sorry to inform you…” Every since that second letter, I’ve been getting myself prepared to do my re-application: contacting all my letter writers to let them know I”ll need them to send in their support again, and getting all my ducks in a row to make my application better this time around. At first, I was mad at the system, the schools, and everything that the application process had taken me through. As I said, I put a lot of effort into my first application. I felt like I’d put my heart and soul into something and gotten nothing but “Nope” back…

Now, I feel really excited to do this again [no I’m not crazy…I don’t think]. I’m excited that I’ll have the opportunity to put together my accomplishments and experiences in a way that better represents me after all that I learned from going through this process. I was like a lot of other pre-med students: good GPA, few academic struggles, and very few moments of “Nope.” This process renewed my determination to become a doctor, the one thing I’ve wanted to be my whole life. It also reminded me that a career in medicine will offer a lot of challenges, and that each one needs to be taken as a learning experience and a new start. 

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