Don't Worry: Learn how to Handle Medical School Rejection

As the winter rolls on, many premeds are rolling into their final semester. But their final exams are the least of their worries. At the top of their mind instead, are their med school applications. While many med schools send out their decisions before the holiday break, others wait until January, February, or even March. Depending on where you’ve applied, you might not hear a peep from admissions offices until well into the spring semester.


A large portion—somewhere around 40%—of med school applicants will be accepted into at least one of the schools they applied to. But most will be rejected. Rejection in the highly competitive Type A environment of premed can feel like pit viper poison. But it’s not lethal, and it might actually work out better for you in the long run.


If you wind up with only rejections at the end of this application cycle, don’t worry, you’re in good company. One Redditor on R/Premed recently described a situation that is likely worse than yours.


“4th Gap year, 6 publication, 4.0 SMP, 518 MCAT 3.15 GPA` 3.22 cGPA, 28 schools applied and 2 interviews back in Sept/Oct. No acceptance. I was told by my family today to live as if the dream is gone and just move on. It sucks to be told by my family that I just gotta give up on the dream that I spent years on and try to be realistic about my life. It sucks that right now it seems like my family also gave up on me.”


Let’s break this down. This applicant has apparently been through 4 application cycles. Despite having pretty good/great scores, academics, and accomplishments on their application, they’ve been rejected numerous times. While their GPA is certainly too low for most schools, they nailed a 4.0 in their SMP program. Their MCAT score is well above average, and they have contributed to 6 academic publications. It’s difficult to push those stats further.


The good news is that, despite this person’s family saying it’s time to give up, this person remains hopeful. And they should. Countless currently practicing doctors received at least one round of pure med school rejection.


If this happens to you, it can be easy to wallow. But you shouldn’t. Instead, you should keep your eyes on the prize and consider the following to boost your application next time around.


Finish your degree out strong. If you have yet to complete your third or even fourth year of premed, you need to double down on academics. This might be your last chance to ace your grades and, if you do, your GPA will get a bump and admissions officers will notice.


Consider a gap year. For those about to graduate, a gap year can be the perfect remedy after a four-year premed grind. Start researching volunteer or work opportunities, preferably those near a beach to combine positive experiences with relaxation.


Check out DO programs. This is a controversial topic, but many premeds who don’t make it into MD programs find success and practice medicine as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. This could be a separate post on its own, but many who have a true passion for helping and healing find DO programs are a perfect fit.


Anyone who applies to med school receives at least a couple of rejections. Don’t let them get to you. There’s always another cycle.

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I was told I would never get into any medical school because I was average. Determined not to be defeated, I learned the secrets to pre-med success and took myself from the bottom of the pack to Stanford Med. Are you ready to learn how I did it? 


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