In an ideal world, once you graduate from your degree of choice, you get the job that you desire, you start making that 6-figure salary, you buy a house, get married and live your life to the fullest. That’s what I had planned for myself too. After graduating from high school, I planed to graduate college, then go straight to medical school, and become a successful physician. Uhh so that did not work out… This is where I’m at now: I graduated from college a few months ago, took the medical college admissions test (MCAT) and did not do so hot, and now, I’m getting paid near minimum wage working as a medical assistant while hoping that next time, I’ll do better and put my life back on track. During my journey as a pre-med student and while working full time, I learned so much about what it means to be a non-traditional student and that not getting into medical school right after undergrad is really not the end of the world. If you are in my shoes or if you realize that medical school is probably not going to work out right away, don’t panic because there are ALWAYS other things that you can do to improve your application for the future.
- What aspect are you trying to improve?
Before you think about what you’re going to do, figure out what in the world went wrong and why you’re not in medical school yet. Is it your grades? Is it your MCAT scores? Do you have enough extracurricular experiences to include in your applications? Do you need to work on your interviewing skills? Or what about those god damn annoying letter of recommendations?? That’s the first step, knowing what you’re missing so you can working towards fulfilling it.
2. Take advantage of your hobbies.
Taking time off doesn’t mean that you can travel the world, eat food and do nothing productive. In the meantime, working 40+ hours a week in the ER and volunteering at a homeless shelter 20+ hours a week is not what you should solely focus on either. I mean, doing meaningful things prove that you show initiative, but at the same time, medical school admission committees also want to see the human behind the application. Do things that you are passionate about, take advantage of your time off and enjoy your hobbies. During a med school interview, you may get questions like “during your years off from college, what did you do for fun?” “What is your go-to activity to relieve stress?” For me, besides working full time, I love working towards a healthy lifestyle. I go to the gym routinely, create recipes of great health benefits and I come up with new workout routines from time to time. Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, don’t forget to continue pursuing it!
3. The final stretch is: do something unique!
Don’t find a job similar to what your friend is doing, or don’t get into a research that you care nothing about. Make connections with your local communities, call up your pre-med advisor, and find something that YOU are interested in and make that unique. When you are out looking for a job, don’t ask yourself “how can I get med school committees to like me?” but instead, ask yourself this “what attracted me towards medicine, and how can I do something about THAT?” For instance, if you have a passion towards the ER/emergency services of medicine, be an EMT. If you love traveling and also have a passion for helping others, take medical mission trips and help build houses in rural areas.
Bottom line: It’s ok to be nontraditional. Everyone stumbles, but how you pick yourself up after failure is what admissions look for. And lastly, it’s not the WHAT that gets you into medical school, it’s HOW you present yourself that attracts their attention. So find your passion, and do something with it.
Have a blessed day and don’t forget to look for your daily dose of happiness~ ❤