After 3 application cycles, I cannot stress enough how good it feels to finally have an acceptance into medical school! I first applied in 2008, and you can definitely see the growth in my applications from then and now. The first time I applied, I could not afford to apply to many schools, and I was lucky enough to receive an AACOMAS fee waiver. This allows for an individual to apply to three osteopathic schools for free, so I picked my three very carefully and hoped for the best. I have no idea what I was thinking applying at the time though because there was nothing notable about my application. While I did have shadowing experience and a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician, I had very little extracurricular activities, research, or volunteering experiences mentioned in my application. I think I may have even mentioned job experiences and extracurricular activities from high school. On top of that, my MCAT score was only a 21 and I had a GPA that was below a 2.5. I received rejections from all three schools around May of that year, but due to not passing a biochemistry class that was only offered once a year and having to extend my graduation date, I would not have been able to attend anyway. Needless to say, I was still very upset and not quite sure about my future.
After graduating in the fall of 2009, I took a job working full-time in a somewhat medically-related research field and I also worked on building my resume. By the time 2011 came around, I felt that I was ready to re-apply to medical school. This time, I applied to three allopathic schools and they were all HBCUs. I also re-took the MCAT, but my score literally only increased by one point. I think the only noteworthy thing about my application was that I included all of my experiences, and I completely re-vamped my personal statement to really reflect me. Unfortunately, I was also rejected this cycle without any interviews. Looking back, I can say that my main problems that cycle were that: I did not apply broadly, I took the August MCAT, I applied somewhat late, and I still had not proved to the schools that I could handle a heavy course load and succeed.
Fast-forward to 2013, and this time I was going all in. On top of all the extracurricular activities noted from my previous years, I also upped my shadowing experiences, started volunteering every week at my local hospital, and now had research publications under my belt. By the grace of God I was accepted into a graduate program in the summer of 2012, and I was doing better than I had ever done in my academic career. This was a risk in itself because sometimes graduate courses are not considered in the same fashion as post baccalaureate classes, but I wanted an extra degree to fall back on just in case this application cycle did not work out as well. My graduate classes were not easy either and I think taking classes like chemical thermodynamics, pharmacology, and toxicology really raised some heads. I re-took the MCAT twice this year (yes, that makes a total of four times), but my scores still remain low with a 20 and then a 21. I also applied very broadly within two weeks of the application cycle opening, and I submitted all of my secondary applications within two weeks of receiving them. This cycle, I have applied to 26 schools total, and these include both allopathic and osteopathic schools. As of today, I have 1 acceptance, 2 holds, 13 rejections (plus 2 never sent a secondary), I withdrew from two, and I am complete at the others and waiting. I interviewed and was accepted to my first choice school, so I can say confidently and happily that the application cycle is over for me. I have chosen not to withdraw from the other schools that I am still waiting to hear from because I would like to see where this goes.
I am living proof that anything is possible despite any shortcomings that you may think you have, and my advice to any re-applicants is to not give up and keep pushing for what you want. If you cannot see yourself doing anything else in life, then don’t be afraid to take risks and go for it. You’ll be happy you did.
Click here to read more from Aspiring Minority Doctor by Student Doctor Danielle Ward.