Ugh! The waiting! The worst part about pre-med that they don’t tell you about.
Throughout undergrad, you are actively working to build up your application. You’re volunteering and participating in research. You’re studying hard for exams and the MCAT. Then all of a sudden, your application is submitted.
Sure you still have things to do. But what you are primarily judged on has been completed. And the waiting game has started.
This can be stressful for many pre-meds as they feel there is nothing left to do but wait. However, this is not the case. There are many things that you can do now to increase your med school chances this year and in the future.
And we’ll throw in a few tips to keep you sane while you’re at it.
This is a no-brainer, but it has to be said.
If you have not already done this, you can prepare by pre-writing some of the possible essays you may get. Some common questions are, “Why our medical school?” and “How will you add to the school’s diversity?” so think about how you are going to tailor your responses for each medical school.
Whether you have gotten an interview invitation or haven’t heard a thing, preparing for your interview is one of the best things you can do with your time.
A great interview can help you stand out among a sea of applicants. And the more time you set aside to practice, the better.
If you are looking for a little guidance, we have a few resources that can help:
This will help you medical school chances and keep you sane.
Continue to study hard in school, volunteer and shadow doctors, do research, pursue a passion project, get a job, or do anything else that interests you. These are things that you can update medical schools on either through a letter or through your interviews.
On top of this, staying busy can help you keep your mind off things if you’re the type that is constantly checking your email waiting for medical school to reply.
If there is a medical school that you for sure want to go to, you can send them a letter of intent. This essentially states, “You are my top medical school and if accepted, I will attend.”
It also states why you want to go to that medical school and updates them on what you have been doing since you have applied.
If you don’t want to go as far, you can write a letter of interest. Pretty much the same thing, but it states something like, “I’m extremely interested in your medical school and if accepted, I would very likely attend.”
These letters of intent/interest can be good to send if you are struggling to get an interview invitation or to send while you are on a waitlist to stand out among the pack.
Furthermore, you can continue to send update letters whenever you feel you have something significant to update them with. The keyword here is significant. You don’t want to be sending a letter every week, only when you have the bigger updates (your senior transcripts, you were selected into a highly competitive research program, etc.)
Planning a plan B is a necessary evil.
There are a lot of people who are not accepted into medical school on the first try. Everyone has to think about what they would do if they didn’t get into medical school this round.
What your plan B is is completely up to you. Ideally, we want to work on the weak spots of your application. Have a trusted advisor look at your application and see where you are coming up short. You could also schedule a general advising session with us and get actionable feedback on how you can best improve.
Need to improve your GPA? Do a post bacc program or a graduate program.
Need to improve your MCAT? Take a gap year and use it to study for the MCAT.
Need more extracurricular experiences? Take a gap year and volunteer/scribe/do research.
If you don’t get into medical school this go-round, taking the time to prepare a solid plan B to work on your weak spots will ensure that you do next time.
Easier said than done. But you are doing yourself no good if you pull your hair out every time you think about medical school.
There are a few ways that you can do this.
Social media has been shown to have some bad effects on people’s happiness.
That is because social media shows people at their best. After scrolling through post after post of happy people, you start to wonder why your life isn’t the constant happiness everyone else seems to be having.
Same thing goes for pre-med forums. If you’re constantly checking forums to see when your school released a round of acceptances, only to be sad when you didn’t get the call, you have an issue.
Listen, just because you were not accepted this time around, does not mean you won’t be accepted in the future. You knowing that information doesn’t change your situation at all. You are only hurting yourself.
So do your brain a favor and get off the forums.
We have discussed this on the blog a few times. Technically, everything above can be a stress reliever is some way, but there are a few more things you can do to keep stress at a manageable level.
First, find the time to do things that you want to do. It is okay to keep busy, but working all the time can lead to burnout.
Second, exercise! It is a great stress reliever and it releases endorphins that improve your mood.
Lastly, meditation is another great way to practice stress relief. It can make you happier, less stressed, help you focus, increase your test scores and more.
You can learn meditation by downloading an app like Headspace or Calm. You can also teach it to yourself as there are plenty of blogs on the subject.
What meditation really does for you is help you let go and be present. And that is how you should live your life. Worrying about whether or not you get into medical school is pointless. Because if you really want to go, you will get there eventually.
Work hard and try to enjoy every part of the journey. Enjoy the detours and accept the twists and turns. You can become a doctor and still have a life.
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