You turned in your AMCAS application last June, making sure your letters of recommendation were stellar, your extracurriculars were exceptional, and your MCAT and GPA metrics were on the competitive side. As the months passed by, however, your inbox received one rejection letter after another.
After all the negative news, you may have found yourself in uncharted waters. You are not alone.
Gaining medical school acceptance is difficult, and even qualified candidates may not get accepted on their first try. According to the AAMC, about 52,550 candidates applied to medical school in 2015, yet only 20,631 matriculated into their first year (a 39% acceptance rate). While these numbers may seem disheartening, there is hope. With the right approach and a little effort, you will one day receive that coveted medical school admissions offer.
Remember, a rejection letter does not necessarily mean the end of your medical career. If you find yourself getting declined from all the target medical schools you applied to, there are a few things you can do to bounce back. The most important first step is understanding your position and changing your mindset so that you are better equipped for the next application cycle. Here are a few strategies that can help you.
Spend a few days or a couple of weeks doing non-academic or non-premedical activities. You need to let your mind process and accept the situation, and this time will also help decrease any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing. Confronting your medical school rejection letter and the next steps requires a clear, refreshed mind.
Reflect on your goals and passions. Why do you want to be a physician? Rediscovering why you have chosen this career in the first place may help reinstate your motivation and enthusiasm.
How do you feel? Exhausted? Frustrated? Upset? Strangely relieved? Some applicants realize they are not that dismayed about their rejections because an MD or DO degree just isn’t their cup of tea anymore. They may switch to allied health careers or change industries altogether.
For those that know medicine is their calling, understanding your emotions will lead to a better grasp of the situation and higher self-awareness (a trait that medical schools already look at when reviewing your candidacy). Stress may be a large part of your life, but you’re already one step ahead of the game if you realize you can take your stressors and turn them into opportunities.
The road to medical education and your doctor of medicine degree is difficult and arduous. You will encounter setbacks in your professional career, and you will have to be able handle them appropriately. This is a great time to develop determination and perseverance, two personal attributes that will go a long way in helping you advance in your medical profession. You will need to be determined about your passion for becoming a doctor, and you will need perseverance to help you get through anything that stands in the way of you achieving your dreams—including a rejection letter.
Before you begin another AMCAS application, gather feedback from your family and friends. What do they think? Call the admissions office of the medical schools you applied to. While not all schools will provide individualized application feedback, it doesn’t hurt to ask about why that particular school turned you away. Talk to your pre-med advisor or trusted mentors. Many people will be happy to provide you with advice or just a chance to talk.
To offer acceptance, most medical schools will need to see a much improved or different application from you the second time around. Updating your extracurriculars or adding a few extra A’s to your GPA will not cut it. Some students take a gap year or two to either gain real life experience or to thoroughly revise their candidacy.
If you are lacking research or clinical experience, it may be to your advantage to seek internships or jobs in those areas. Low MCAT score? Spend some time with the material to really improve your knowledge and retake the test. Taking a gap year(s) or delving straight into a second application cycle both come with pros and cons. Be sure to do your research and choose the path that best supports your future.
Confronting medical school rejection starts with changing your mindset and approach, even before you consider logistical next steps. Take some time to really think about your goals, dreams, and lifestyle ambitions. If you’re ready to reapply, be sure to check back with us in a couple weeks as we release the second part to this series on medical school reapplication.
Ready to rebound to a higher MCAT score? Visit Kaptest.com/MCAT to view our upcoming class schedules.