Saturday, February 2, 2008

What if I don't get into medical school?

"What if I don't get into medical school?"

What will you do?

A common question among aspiring medical students. A question that everyone is asked by other students, teachers, family, and by themselves. And I can tell you that it's asked more and more the closer judgment day approaches. But what if you don't get in?

What if every single school you apply to rejects you? What if you score a few interviews but never get the thumbs up from anyone?

I've kind of dismissively answered before on this blog. "I don't want to do anything else. If I don't get in, I'll get a job, and apply again next year and the year after that." I say dismissive because at some point reality has to come into play.

I mean it when I say that I don't want to do anything else.

The first reality check occurs when you start hearing about the class that graduated a year ahead of you and you hear success and failure stories alike. It occurs when you start hearing about other students that had better grades than you did, were generally known to be one of the "smarter students", and they still didn't get in.

"If they couldn't get in, how can I?"

Judgment day is getting closer and I take another look at my back-up plan:

  1. Send applications to as many schools that I can afford.
  2. If I get rejected, get a paid-job doing research or as an ER Tech. Take the MCAT again if my scores were poor and apply again. And this time consider applying to schools with D.O. programs.
  3. If I get rejected a second time, consider going going back into school for a Master's Degree. Apply a third time.

A few things to note:

  • A lot of people do not get accepted into medical school their first time.
  • Getting a Master's Degree is a proven way to make up for a poor GPA. You may rack up 2 more years of debt, it may take 2 more years of your life, and it's something that I've said I wouldn't do (at my already 25 years of age)... but that was just me thinking positively and thinking aloud.

Some of my friends have decided to not apply to medical school. One of them was originally thinking of dental school and is now seriously thinking of pharmacy. Another was still undecided on either graduate school or medical school. And another was never certain about medical school in the first place. (At least not any of the times I asked her.)

But there's a difference between them and me: I don't want to do anything else.

Now, I'm in no way calling any of them stupid. Their GPA's are either higher or equal to mine. But that's not the point. This is the only thing I've been thinking about the last 4 years.

What will you do?


konnip said...

Hi Jonathan,

I came across your blog while searching the web for a definitive answer to whether or not medical schools really do consider undergraduate GPAs paramount to any graduate accomplishments... (I'm happy that you seem to imply otherwise...) I'm an aspiring physician, myself...and, like you, I've never wanted to be anything but. However, I am taking the "scenic route". I am also in my mid-twenties, but I have no plans to apply anytime soon. (I'll be happy if I can enter into a good medical school by 30...) I have never applied previously, but I am hoping that my work/life experience from the past few years will help--rather than hurt--my chances. I think I have, as a result of this experience, learned more about the true faces of illness than any lecture or lab course will ever be able to teach. As such, to those who may face rejection in the coming months, I would suggest getting out into the world and seeing what 'it' is really like. In my opinion, half of what being a doctor should entail is the ability to respond to your patients emotionally...not just scientifically. I would hope that medical schools might see at least some value in this thought...

Best of luck to you in your pursuits. ~S

Anonymous said...

Encouraging story! But Please help! People are saying a Master's degree does not help people get into medical school. Please talk to me!!!


Anonymous said...


A friend of mine reaplied 3 times and got in on the third application. His advice to me was, that if this is what you really want to do, then don't ever give up. This is not only a dream, this is a reality, and you will do everything in your power to make it.

This is my second year applying... last year I had two interviews, and this year I had two interviews. I was accepted into a DO program last year, but I passed it up because I REALLY didn't like the school. I finished a Masters degree this year, and in my experience I've heard different things from different people.

I know that 90% of the students in my masters program (medical sciences) were accepted into medical school. Many of these students were 3-5 year reapplicants. Admission directors from other schools came in and visited us, they told us that the Masters degree would not be taken into account until AFTER we had graduated... they wanted to see the full outcome of our grades. I think a Masters degree does help, but you should choose a program carefully. Make sure that the school is accredited. Ask lots of questions about their success rate, and if they don't tell you, then they must be hiding something. Some schools are barely starting their masters program for pre-meds, and don't have any track record at all- make sure you choose the program that is best for you.

Anonymous said...

The problem with medical school is that most people think that if you don't get accepted you can reapply again and again. This is just not the case anymore. Most medical schools these days explicity state that if this is your third time applying don't. So basically you can only apply twice. This is why my best advice to medical school applicants is take everything seriously don't just apply half@#$#% and hope for the best. Get all your ducks in a row. If your GPA is below 3.5, make sure you raise it up before you apply. If you MCAT score is less than a 26, I am sorry but you have virtually no chance. Some people say, oh it's nonsense, they consider your life experience too. Yes, they do I don't doubt it, but if you don't have the minimum 3.5GPA, and 26 MCAT then it is very likely your application will not get past even the first stage. In many cases they will not even ask you to fill out a secondary application. In many ways, it's very simple, you have to fulfill the minimum requirements first before you talk about your amazing volunteer experiences in Africa.

MJ said...

Your post was more than 3 years ago. I am anxious to hear if you were accepted into Medical School. What prompted me to write was a line in your post that you did not want to do anything else, a very compelling statement.
I am doing research on physician attitudes through the decades and would love to get your perspective. You can email me at

Thank you in advance.