How to Manage Rejection from Medical School


medical school rejection

How to Manage Rejection from Medical School

Receiving a rejection letter from a medical school can be disheartening. This is especially true if you have not been granted admission at any school to which you have applied.  Although being rejected from medical school is unpleasant, it does not have to be the end of  your dream to become a physician. If you learn from your unsuccessful application cycle, you will be in a better position when you reapply.


Step 1: Calm Down

Immediately after realizing that your application was unsuccessful, you will likely be quite upset. Although this is a completely normal reaction, negative emotions will not help you get into medical school. Instead, give yourself some time to feel down, then relax. It may be helpful to remember that the majority of people who apply to medical school do not get in. Therefore, you are not the only person in this situation. If you are serious about becoming a physician, you will fix the errors that caused you to be rejected from medical school and reapply.  Although this is a bump in the road, you can still become a physician. An unsuccessful application cycle does not permanently bar you from attending medical school.


Step 2: Evaluation

The next step after you have been rejected from medical school is to conduct a self-evaluation. The goal of this exercise is to identify what went wrong with your application.  Some of the reasons students are rejected from medical school include the following:

  • inadequate academic achievement
  • late/incomplete AMCAS application
  • poor interview performance
  • deficient personal statement/secondary essays
  • minimal research/volunteer experience

If you take the time to honestly evaluate your unsuccessful application, you will likely know what went wrong. However, if you are still unsure , it is acceptable to contact the medical schools and politely ask why they decided not to admit you. Some schools will tell you which areas of your application were lacking.


Step 3: Remediation Planning

Often, students who are rejected from medical school rush to reapply the next application cycle. This is unwise. You are unlikely to be more successful in your next application round unless you make significant improvements. In most cases, corrective action takes at least one year. Therefore, you should plan to wait at least one application cycle before applying again. If you reapply too soon, you risk wasting significant amounts of time and money. In addition, you will appear less qualified if you apply to medical schools over and over again.


Instead of rushing to reapply, begin to think of ways you can strengthen your CV and become a better applicant. If your previous application failed due to a low gpa, consider attending a special masters program for medicine. If you perform well as a graduate student, you will be able to show the admissions committee that you are a strong student. In addition, many graduate programs are affiliated with medical schools. This confers two benefits. First, you will have an easier time being admitted to the medical school associated with your graduate school. Second, you will have the opportunity to take classes at the medical school. You will demonstrate that you are able to handle the rigors of a medical school curriculum if you perform well in those classes.


You should retake the MCAT if your application was hampered by poor test scores. Give yourself plenty of time to review the material before you take the test again. In addition, it is a good idea to spend extra time reviewing the areas that you struggled with on the previous exam. You should also consider enrolling in a MCAT preparation course. There are many courses available- look for one that gives you access to mock tests and a question bank.


Step 4: Build Your CV

During your time off from applying to medical school, you should also participate in CV building activities. These include research, clinical experience, and volunteering. Medical schools want to admit students who are certain that they want to be physicians. The best was to prove this is to have a lot of experience observing doctors at work. Look for volunteer jobs in your local hospital. These jobs are ideal because they show schools that you are interested in community service; plus you get valuable clinical experience. Other good uses of your time include shadowing local physicians or conducting clinical or basic science research.


Step 5: Plan Your Application

Once you have corrected the deficiencies in your CV that caused you to be rejected from medical school, it is time to begin thinking about reapplying. Nearly all medical schools conduct rolling admissions. Therefore, you will have a distinct advantage if you complete your application early. You should begin working on your application in February so that you are ready to hit the ‘submit’ button as soon as AMCAS fully opens in June.  Give yourself plenty of time to write your personal statement. This is often the most time-consuming portion of the the application.


Although being rejected from medical school is disheartening, you should not give up. If you learn from your mistakes in the previous application cycle- and correct them- you will have a much better chances of success.


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