Advice for pre-meds: What would you do if you never got into medical school?

What would you do if you didn’t get into medical school this cycle? Next cycle? If ever?

Yeah, I know. Dumb question. My friends and other pre-medical students have always joked around that the answer to the question of all questions is: “I would keep trying. Not getting-in is not an option.”

It sounds like a bad punch line, but I joke you not. An MCAT course instructor also instructed us to respond this way if we were ever asked that question in an interview. It is the optimistic answer. The answer of a go-getter and the one who can’t take no for an answer. It sounds like a success story. Right?

In my opinion, it is important to have a healthy dose of optimism. It is hard to get into the medical field and most students have a hard time getting in since the applicant pool has only getting bigger over the years. It is a nail biting experience for most and if you have an easy time then you are a dime in a dozen! As a pre-medical student you have to understand that if you don’t get in this cycle, then you need to pick yourself back up and re-apply the next cycle (or the one after that). If you want it, you will go for it with all you’ve got.

However, when do you know when to stop? Or when to take a hiatus? The doctors that I’ve shadowed tell me that it’s not uncommon for an older nurse to sudden decide that they want to enter medical school (and most of them succeed!). I’ve met students who have decided to travel the world before they re-apply. Then there are the students who go complete at two years masters program before re-applying. There’s several combinations out there.

It is my belief that when you are approached with a question like that you have to show your earnestness in applying for medical school. They want to know that you know what you’re getting yourself into, it’s a gauge of how much you want it, but at the same time you need to show that you can be an adult. Make secondary plans. Think of it as if you were an aspiring actor. What would you do in the meantime if those Hollywood dreams don’t come when you first snap your fingers? Not everyone’s got the magic touch, but if you want to keep pursuing your dream you’ve got to make sure that you’re not being a burden on your parents in the meantime. Sure, it’s all dandy and fine when you’re 22 or 23, fresh-out-of-college, but you’re also a young adult and you’ve got to start thinking about your life in the long term. Your ‘future.’

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