Rejection is tough. Worse, it forces you to overanalyze what you feel went wrong with your application. Maybe your MCAT scores were slightly below average. Maybe they were just average. Don’t consider your career in medicine dead before it began. There are other options out there.
Caribbean Medical Schools
Caribbean medical schools offer students who are passionate about becoming a physician another opportunity to become one. Schools such as Ross, St. George’s, and American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine offer a medical education equivalent to U.S. schools. Though the process is selective, it is not as fiercely competitive as U.S. medical schools. At AUA, applicants are evaluated holistically, which means that they are not assessed solely on grades and MCAT scores alone.
Graduates from these schools have gone on to become successful physicians in the United States. The only difference between these and U.S. medical schools is that not all Caribbean medical schools are accredited and have access to clinical rotations. You will have to make sure that you end up at a Caribbean medical school that will allow you to practice and attend clinical rotations in the United States, schools such as AUA.
Take a Break
If you still want to go to a U.S. medical school, it’s probably best to take a yearlong break. Get a job. Enjoy life. Travel the world. Do whatever it is that makes you happy.
This is also a good time to be productive. This is the perfect opportunity to rebuild your application for the next round. Using the same application without any changes will just lead to you being rejected again. Before you reapply, contact the schools you were rejected from and ask what went wrong. More than likely, they will give you a straight answer. When you receive these notes, act on them. Find your weak points and try to improve them. If it takes more than a year to get it right, then be prepared to be productive for those years.
Go to Grad School
Sometimes it takes more than just adding more extracurricular and volunteering activities. You have to show you can succeed academically. Getting a Master’s degree in a health field (such as a Master’s in Public Health) can show medical schools that you have a basic knowledge coming in and, hopefully, you will have the grades to prove you can do well in a rigorous medical curriculum.
Graduate school will also keep you in a student mindset. You will be prepared to go back easily into an academic setting when you eventually are accepted to a medical school. Like New York City, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Try a new Vocation
Rejection is also a time for reflection. Before you leap into the fire again, you have to ask yourself. Do you really want to become a physician? Becoming a physician requires a lot of work and a lifelong commitment to learning. When you begin your medical education, it may take close to a decade to open a private practice or find a lucrative position at a prestigious hospital.
The hardest epiphany to realize is that medical education may not be right for you. Perhaps there is something you would want to do more but never pursued. Medicine is a career that requires you to be passionate all the time. If it is not truly your passion, then don’t force yourself to make it happen. Take some time. When you’re a physician, it’s not just your life you have to worry about, it’s everyone else’s.