Thursday, May 13, 2010

Accepted, or not, into Medical School

I realized today that most people throughout the U.S. now know whether or not they were accepted into medical school, or another professional school. My heart ached for those going through the experience. The emotions, the anticipation, the nerve-racking waiting and wondering, and the huge amount of work pre-med students are expected to accomplish - and excel in - during it all is enough to make anyone pass out.

On one of my husband's applications, he had filled out all of his employment experiences, leadership experiences, research experiences, volunteer experiences, etc., and he had a huge, blank, box with four spaces to fill in with his extracurricular activities. He had none because he had used up everything else he had been doing for the previous three years for all of the other spaces on the application. He did not want to leave it empty. I had been thinking of doing a triathlon, but had been unable to convince him to do one with me (he does not like to swim). I told him it would look great on the application and so he agreed. Luckily, he had biked to school that day, so on the first line listed under Extracurricular Activities I typed: "Training for a triathlon", and under the box labeled Hours Spent I typed: "1 hr." We laughed, but it ended up being the single piece of information that any of his interviewers brought up during his medical school interviews later. It was something unusual (at the time - now it seems like everyone and their dog has done one).

I realize that each year it becomes even more difficult to be accepted into medical school. If my husband were currently applying to medical school, I would encourage him to get involved in an international health experience. Working in a teaching hospital in a third-world country would provide incredible experiences, as well as a unique accomplishment on an application. If this were unrealistic, I might encourage him to get involved with a local organization, or start his own, depending on his passions and interests. As I've noted earlier, my husband is totally obsessed with biking, so I would suggest that he look for or start an organization with the purpose of providing bicycles for poor people, or one that provides a mountain biking summer camp targeted at troubled teens, etc.

Of course, these resume building activities need to be accomplished, along with the multiple other medical school requirements, while working full time, getting good grades or re-taking any necessary classes (to beef up the grade point average), supporting a family (if applicable), filling out the med school applications (this is a huge job alone), - or whatever your circumstances may be - and somehow enjoying life... which brings us back to the emotional aspect of applying to medical school. It is torture to go through with it once, but twice or more? - I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But whatever you do, don't get discouraged - we have multiple friends who applied to medical school more than once, or twice, or even three times before getting accepted.

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