How to Effectively Promote Yourself in Premed While Avoiding Gunner Status
Practically anyone who’s stumbled in to an O-Chem lecture can pick a gunner out of a lineup. These are the folks that obsess over getting into med school while displaying little to no understanding of human compassion. They constantly discuss academics and consider how every instance of social participation will look on a med school application.
Gunners will do anything to succeed. With applications just about in and interview season rolling around, things can get ugly. A recent Reddit post described one premed student donning their military uniform for an interview.
For those who have served, wearing your uniform during a non-military function is absolutely verboten. This is an instance of a gunner clearly crossing the line. As one ex-military user wrote, “There is literally zero excuse for it … We honor those that died every day by continuing to live and not forgetting. Wearing your dress uniform to a non-military function isn’t allowed. This person knew exactly what they were doing.”
This gunner figured their interviewer would be impressed by their service, and they didn’t want that service to be reflected merely as a bullet point on their application. In other words, they took something that many consider to be more-than-sacred and used it to help them get into med school. This is a flagrant gunner violation.
But on the other hand, it’s not always easy to walk that fine line between effectively describing your merits and going overboard. Another recent poster was anxious how he or she would look on med school applications. They’re currently in their junior year and need to start thinking about applying next spring.
Their source of anxiety is their age: struggling with drug addiction during their first stint in undergrad forced them to drop out. Recovery took a few more years. Now on the rebound, they’re nervous to talk about this in an interview.
This person is still figuring out how to dominate. Overcoming barriers and struggles in your personal life should be a source of strength and an inspiration for others. This person should own their struggle—it would likely go over fantastically in an interview.
These two people described above might represent two poles on one spectrum of personality types in premed. The first is a gunner, they will do anything to succeed, regardless of how many American flags or other sacred institutions they need to step over on the way. The second person hasn’t used all of the tools in their toolbox, and that might cost them down the line.
To succeed in premed, you will need to walk the fine line that lies between these two people. You will need to effectively, yet honestly and respectably, promote yourself on applications and in interviews.
Let’s face it: for those of us who are truly serious about becoming a doctor, we’ve all walked right up to the gunner boundary. We might even have taken an experimental step across. We’ve all had opportunities to stretch the truth in while representing ourselves, to exploit our personal connections, to capitalize on the success of others. But those among us who have gotten into med school, who have been placed in residencies, who have obtained licensure—we haven’t done it by being a gunner. We’ve gotten where we are by being true to ourselves and giving our all to reaching our goals.