Okay so, the title to this post was definitely shorter in my head lol
A friend of mine recently reached out to me asking for advice about what to do during a gap year between applying for medical school and graduation. Another friend reached out to me asking for advice to make herself a better candidate for medical schools now that she has finished college.
So I thought, “hmm…I wonder who else needs help with this dilemma and could potentially benefit from me sharing this bit of type of advice?”
Let me start by first saying that I am so proud of anyone who is still chasing after that MD or DO or that PA despite the obstacles. You are going to make strong physicians because you are the ones that persevere through tough times. You are the ones that the world needs.
Not everyone has a straight path to medicine. I know I definitely didn’t. What’s important is that it is still the goal.
I’m here to tell you that even though you’re done with college and everyone of your friends seems to have their lives together, you can still reach your goals of getting into medical school.
Don’t be discouraged just because your GPA wasn’t flawless or you did not get a perfect MCAT or money is the obstacle. If you wan’t to be a doctor and you feel it from the bottom of your soul, you will become that doctor.
This dilemma is one that most of us in medical school has experienced before. Not every doctor you have met went straight from college into Medical School and if a student did go straight into medical school after college, this does NOT mean they will make a better physician than you, it just means they got there earlier and will finish earlier. But remember, it’s not a race.
Because I have personally experienced this dilemma, I am here to offer some words of encouragement and tell you that yes, you will get into medical school and yes, you will be that doctor.
So, you just graduated or about to graduate but have no idea what to do next. Your academic advisor has told you that there is no way you will ever get into medical school with your GPA and you should explore other career options. You go home, and are both hurt and determined as ever by this news. You decide that you can’t give up on your life’s goal.
Lets pause here at this moment and figure out where to go from here. Below are some steps that I believe everyone in this situation should look at to help figure out what the next moves are”:
Realistically examine your situation
These are questions that you should step away from everything and ask yourself:
Where am I?
- Have I finished college or am I going to graduate soon?
- What does my GPA look like?
- What about my MCAT score? Have I taken the MCAT?
- Did I gain something meaningful out of my extracurricular activities?
- Did I complete all of the medical school prerequisite courses?
- Would getting a Master’s degree enhance my GPA and my competitiveness? What about completing a post-bacc program?
What can I do now?
- Now that you have answered those questions and realistically examined where you stand, think about what can you do now in the short term before applying to schools. For instance, before I graduated college, I knew that I didn’t complete the pre-reqs for med school and I knew I would take about two years to complete them and I also knew that I didn’t have enough meaningful extracurricular activities. So, what I did was immediately contact places where I could volunteer so that I can start ASAP.
- Also, start gathering information on medical schools immediately if you haven’t already been doing so.
What do I NOT want to do?
- Are there some things that you consider deal breakers? For instance, I know a lot of people will not come to the Caribbean for medical school because they believe that it is a scam and that they will never be doctors. This is of course not true but for those that want to continue believing this without doing the proper research, then I can’t say much to you.
- Also, do you NOT want to do a master’s program? Why or why not?
- Do you NOT want to do a postbac?
- Can you work and take pre-reqs or is that NOT an option.
As you are realistically examining your situation, you can kind of lean toward something whether it is completing a post-bacc or taking a break from school to work and getting back to it.
Whatever you decide to do, you should still follow the next step:
Now that you have realistically examined where you stand when it comes to medical school requirements and how competitive of an applicant you are, it’s time to gather information based on your stats.
- Going back to the first question, “Where am I?” you have to figure out what you need to do now. If your GPA is low or MCAT is low, you want to research schools that are more lenient in accepting students with low GPA’s and MCAT scores.
- If there is a medical school close by, I would drive up to their admissions office, show them who you are, tell them what your intention are, why you are interested in their school and ask for advice about how to become more competitive to be admitted to that school.
- Have you researched about Master’s programs and post-bacc programs? If not, this would be the time to do so. If so, which ones are you looking at and what are the requirements for them? What I did was make a long list of Master’s programs and another long list of post-bacc programs. From there, I started figuring out which programs would take me based on my stats and which wouldn’t and started crossing ones off.
- Here, I would also research Masters or Post-bacc programs that are directly tied with medical schools. Some of these programs guarantee admissions into their medical schools assuming that you successfully complete the program with a certain GPA. Some of these programs also offer MCAT tutoring.
AAMC has great information on Post-bacc programs.
UAB School of Medicine has another list that is worth checking out.
Don’t be afraid
My last piece of advice is DO NOT BE AFRAID. There is a quote out there that says something like, “if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.” I agree but then again I don’t agree with this quote.
Of course, the process to getting to medical school is a little scary because it isn’t guaranteed immediately; however, my biggest motivator is seeing those before me who have been successful with getting in and becoming doctors. I believe that if there is someone out there who made it, there is nothing stopping you from doing it.
Don’t be afraid to take a leap. I definitely did when I decided to move to the West Indies for Medical School. I never ever ever imagined that I would be here. But here I am.
Anything new is a little scary but keep reminding yourself of the goal. Keep praying. Keep believing in yourself. A little anxiety is normal, healthy, even because it motivates us to keep pushing.
You got this!
Email me questions/comments: Contactnilechild@gmail.com