What Do I Do if I Get Rejected From Medical School?

The following piece was written by Dr. Sahil Mehta. Sahil is the founder of MedSchoolCoach, a medical school admissions consulting company. He has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former admissions interviewer for Columbia University.

Getting into an American medical school is a difficult task. With more than 60% of applicants rejected each year, it’s more likely than not that you will find yourself among them. There are several important factors to consider if you don’t get into medical school. We recommend a multi-step approach to your application if you find yourself without a seat in medical school.

1. Breathe

Yes, it is disappointing. Yes, it can be devastating. Yes, your dreams of becoming a doctor have been put on hold for one year. But take a deep breath, and remember that there are literally thousands of physicians practicing today who found themselves in the exact same situation that you do now. They are taking care of patients, performing surgeries, and enjoying their careers without any evidence of their past rejections. You can make it there too! 

2. Evaluate

Now is the time to take a few minutes to evaluate what went wrong. Many people can help you do this, and we suggest you take all their advice. Remember, however, that not everyone has a current and in-depth understanding of the process. You can contact those schools that rejected you, but their advice is sometimes generic. (“Gain more clinical experience,” is something we hear often!)

3. Take action

Now that you have figured out your deficiencies, it’s time to correct them. This may include extra classes or a Master’s program if your academics are the reason for your rejection. Or it may involve getting a research or clinical job if your activities were not up to par. The most important thing is to avoid submitting the same exact application again. That is a formula for a sure rejection.

4. Rewrite

Yes, it’s painful, but you will likely have to rewrite your personal statement and activities to better reflect your strengths. You should not reuse the same essay you did last year, although certain parts can certainly be similar.

5. Reapply, but don’t rush into it

Because you have to make additions and improvements to your application, you may want to think about putting your next application on hold for another year. This should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but the bottom line is you do not want to rush into another application without addressing the issues at hand.

6. Think about alternative paths for your next application

You should think about applying to osteopathic programs if you are interested in them – and you should be! D.O.s are physicians who perform the same exact functions as M.D.s in virtually every manner. Osteopathic programs may be easier to get into, but you will still need to be a great student to attend a D.O. school, just like you must be to get into an M.D. school.

7. Keep your head up

Keep your confidence up because it is so important. It can be tough to be rejected from medical school, but make sure not to let it get you too down. Again, many physicians have been through the same process and come out just fine in the end! 

Check out MedSchoolCoach for more information. 

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.