My Premed Story

I have wanted to be a pediatrician since I was 14 and shadowed my own doctor. I did my homework (literally) about what steps to take to get there, including buying a copy of Kaplan’s Get into Medical School while I was still in high school… reading it, taking notes, and highlighting it cover-to-cover. I volunteered every summer in a local hospital and continued to shadow my own doctor, in addition to other small volunteer gigs.

I graduated valedictorian of my high school class (even though it was a tiny school), and kept up my overachiever habits throughout college as a Biochemistry major. I am competitive by nature and I like a little friendly competition, but I didn’t really consider myself a “gunner”. I worked exceptionally hard in every class, even the ones I didn’t care about, like Art Appreciation. My only two grades that were not A’s were in Physical Chemistry 1 & 2, and they were B’s. I was also involved on campus, becoming a leader in several groups that focused on volunteerism and preparing for graduate school. I tacked on an Honors Program curriculum during my third year and still managed to graduate on time, at the top of my class. By then I’d also worked on several reaseach projects and had published. I was the recipient of several local, regional, and national scholarships and awards, and I felt pretty confident that my dreams would come true.

Long story short, up until my senior year in college, everything had gone “according to plan” (thank you, Kaplan). I studied for the MCAT on my own and didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but I thought I would be fine (mistake #1). Then I applied to just a few medical schools close to home (mistake #2). After my only interview at my only state school, I panicked and started looking into graduate programs at a nearby, larger university, where I applied to and was accepted into the Master of Arts in Bioethics and Medical Humanities in March. In May, I was waitlisted at my #1 school. By August 1st, I was slowing acclimating to realizing that I would not be enrolling into medical school that fall. I was devastated, and not a very happy person in general around that time.

My graduate program was very difficult that first semester. I was dealing with feelings of inadequacy and ineptitude, and I wasn’t sure I would even finish the program. I felt like a complete failure. Even so, I met with an admissions counselor to see what I could do to improve my application for a second cycle, continued to volunteer, and retook the MCAT while studying on my own (mistake #3). This second application would also be unsuccessful as my MCAT score dropped a point or two, and I only applied to two schools (mistake #4).

After this blow of being unsuccessful yet again, I focused on my program. I worked diligently and wound up being incredibly successful while learning a lot about the health care field and its challenges and changes. I even wrote a paper on a topic that I was passionate about, to which my professor encouraged me to publish. I was able to sit in on bioethics committees at several local hospitals, round with preceptors in several specialties, and found that my desire to become a pediatrician and possibly a neonatologist was stronger than ever. It was during this time that I also met my future husband. Armed with a graduate degree and new hope, I applied (a third time) to the same two medical schools (mistake #5). I was also unsuccessful during that cycle, and heartbroken all over again. I was at the point of giving up all hope. With my husband’s encouragement, I prepared for my fourth and final application, no matter what the outcome.

This meant preparing for the MCAT yet again–my previous highest score was too old to be admissable for this particular application. I was so embarrassed to be taking this exam one more time, which increased my feelings of inadequacy. I enrolled in a class geared toward success on this exam, which I felt did help some. Thankfully, this exam went well. I rewrote all of my essays, asked for new recommendation letters, and most importantly, I applied much more broadly–all while working full-time as a reasearch technician and taking anatomy and medical terminology classes on the weekends to get back into the habit of being a student of science again. This time, my application was successful.

If any premeds are reading this, I hope you learn from my mistakes, and if you have failed previously, I hope my story encourages you to keep trying. Going through four application cycles has been an awful experience, but I do realize how much I have grown personally during my ‘gap years’ and how my experiences have shaped the goals I want to reach as a physician.

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11 thoughts on “My Premed Story

  1. Hey there! I stumbled upon your page today in the midst of preparing to submit an AMCAS application very, very soon. (God willing.) It’s been nerve-wracking trying to get this and that and everything else in line, but this story gave me a little bit of an extra oomph in motivation. I’m so glad you got in and I bet you will be a GREAT physician for that dedication and love of the field, :).

  2. Hi – just stumbled on your blog right now. I have to say, your story gives me so much hope! I’m taking two years off to prepare myself for the MCAT and becoming a more competitive applicant and I thought that was bad. Your story shows me that if this is what I really want, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there and if anything, I might meet that special person during that journey – serendipity at its finest. Thanks so much for renewing my hope!

  3. Oh, and what school do you attend now? I saw that you were originally planning on Des Moines (I’m considering applying to osteopathic schools as well), so I’m curious on what you decided. Thanks again!

    1. Hi, serend1p1ty! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

      I was planning on going to Des Moines, they have a wonderful program there. But when Louisville offered me the chance to go home for school, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Good luck with your application, and if I can help answer any questions about the application process or school in general, please let me know!

  4. Hi Allie,
    Thanks so much for sharing your premed journey. I think it’s incredible. I also appreciated that you included everything that happened in the “background” rather than just the “highlight reel.” I think a lot of people show the highlight reel, which can discourage many. Thanks for encouraging others with your story! I’ve shared this page on my blog in hopes that others will also find the same hope and encouragement that I have found. I am truly looking forward to seeing you finish your medical school journey!

    1. Hi, Z! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Actually, that was the whole reason I started blogging about my experience; to show what it’s actually been like, especially since I had several setbacks that were all avoidable in hindsight. Thank you for your kind words, and congratulations on being accepted this application cycle!

      1. Thank you! In reflecting on my blog, I’m not sure if I’ve included enough of my own setbacks in my posts. You’ve inspired to me write a bit more about the setbacks I face on getting to where I am now. So, thank you!! 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. You really are a champion for never giving up. You give me inspiration as I prepare for an MCAT retake. Thanks for being transparent. May you rock the rest of this semester!

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