For many aspiring medical students, the thought of not being accepted into medical school on their first try can be incredibly disheartening. Yet, with determination and persistence, getting accepted to medical school after a few tries may be more attainable than you think!
It’s no secret that becoming a doctor is one of the most difficult and rewarding accomplishments in life. But what many don’t realize is that there are multiple paths to achieving this goal, and students from diverse backgrounds can become successful medical professionals. In fact, many medical schools today are making it a priority to recruit students who come from nontraditional backgrounds. The road to becoming a medical student is always unique, so focus on your goals and don’t let the setbacks keep you down.
We at Trinity School of Medicine understand what it is like to strive towards your dreams only to find yourself faced with adversity. That’s why we want to talk about how best to go about reapplying for medical school so that you don’t miss out on this opportunity once again. Keep reading to learn more, or reach out to an admissions counselor to discuss the next steps on your med school application journey today!
1. Understand the gaps in your first application.
If your first medical school application experience did not go as planned, it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate your qualifications.
Take time to reflect on why you were not accepted and look at ways in which you can be a stronger candidate during the next cycle. Now is a good time to seek feedback from mentors and peers, and to look at your credentials objectively to identify areas of growth.
For example, you might need to focus on one or more of the following areas before reapplying to med school:
- Academic achievements
- Extracurricular activities
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
- MCAT score
- Interview performance
- Clinical experience or research experience
- Volunteerism or leadership roles
- GPA and types of classes taken
Be realistic when creating your plan of action to address any shortcomings in your application. You may not have the ability to change your GPA or retake classes at this point, and it’s certainly too late to change your undergraduate major or area of focus. Instead, you might need to carve out time to better preparing for the MCAT to improve a low score or find ways to gain more clinical experience.
Remember: try not to get hung up on the elements of your application that you can’t change, and focus instead on the opportunities you still have to improve your standing as a future physician. No medical school candidate is perfect, so lean into your strengths and work to refine any rough edges before the second application deadline.
2. Create an organized action plan.
Now that you have reflected on your strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to create a roadmap for the upcoming application cycle. Before you get started, consider talking with an admissions counselor or mentor who can provide you with feedback on your plan.
Make sure your application plan covers the following key areas:
- Specific, measurable goals. Establishing specific goals will also help keep you motivated throughout the application cycle. Based on the areas of improvement you’ve already identified, you should be able to pin down two to three key goals to work toward during the upcoming admissions period. To make these as useful as possible, avoid broad objectives such as “get accepted into top school” or “improve interview skills.” Instead, be as specific and actionable as possible. This might include aiming for a certain increase in points on your MCAT score, receiving a positive reference letter after completing a volunteer experience, or finishing a personal statement workshop.
- An organized timeline. You’ll be surprised how quickly time might fly between your first rejection and the next application deadline. Evaluate your goals and create a timeline for how long it will take to complete each one. Don’t forget to factor in the time it takes for research, studying for the MCAT, crafting a personal statement, and completing interviews. Hurrying through any step of the application process will only add stress, so be diligent in adhering to deadlines.
- A checklist of required documents. The medical school admissions process involves a lot of paperwork, so make sure you know which documents need to be submitted by when. Create a checklist that includes the MCAT score, transcripts, letters of recommendation and other required items. Doing this ahead of time will help ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines or submit incomplete applications.
Staying organized isn’t just a way to keep your head on straight when reapplying to medical school; it’s also a key skill to learn to be a successful student and doctor in the future. Preparing now will help you stay focused on what matters during this process — your application!
3. Reevaluate your medical school options.
With the increasing number of applicants vying for limited spots in medical schools across North America, it has become more and more difficult to gain entry into these institutions. For those who have applied one or two times without success, a viable option may be to look at international medical schools as an alternative pathway.
International medical schools offer unique advantages over domestic ones such as lower tuition rates and smaller class sizes which can lead to increased access to faculty and resources. Additionally, many overseas programs provide educational experiences abroad during your studies which can give you valuable global perspectives on healthcare issues and cultural insights that will help prepare you for practice in today’s interconnected world.
While getting accepted into a U.S. or Canadian medical school may be the dream, international options such as Caribbean medical schools can prove to be viable alternatives for those who don’t succeed on their first or second attempts. If you’re considering an offshore medical school, make sure you are only considering institutions that are appropriately accredited to allow physicians to practice in their home country following graduation.
You can also reach out to current students, alumni, and faculty to gain a better understanding of what life will be like as a student at that particular institution. Doing this due diligence ahead of time will help ensure that whichever international medical school you choose will still provide the high-quality education needed to become a successful medical doctor.
While it can be easy to feel discouraged after a rejection, it’s important to remember that many successful doctors faced setbacks before finally being accepted into medical school. Lean on your loved ones and seek guidance from professionals, such as pre-med advisors and medical school admissions experts, to make the most of your application process. With their help, you can stay motivated, identify areas for improvement, and ultimately increase your chances of getting accepted into a medical program.