This nontraditional reapplicant wants to know where to start after applying and not getting any interviews.
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.
[00:27] Question of the Day
Q: “I previously applied to medical school in May of 2020. Okay, no interviews, no acceptances. And I’m trying to figure out how to get my application prepped if there are some things that I need to be doing or should be doing within this next year. I just want to know where to start after applying and not getting any interviews. I know it was my MCAT score. I had submitted everything. By May, I already submitted all my secondary applications.
Unfortunately, right after I submitted everything for my primaries, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. So I was studying for the MCAT and working on that kind of stuff, and working remotely. So I was trying to juggle everything. I was in this spot where I don’t know if I’m confident, but I have to do it. I had to take this MCAT because it was the last piece of the puzzle. It was not a 500 and it was not a good score. It’s what’s considered average, but for the schools that I applied to, it just wasn’t going to cut it. So I think that was a major piece of my application.
No Issues With Her GPA
In undergrad, I had to get my GPA up. I started at Rutgers University with a 2.3, transferring in as a sophomore from a local community college with a 3.5. It’s a really big dip. I got my GPA up to 3.4 in the end though. It’s still not where I want it. I went and did a special master’s program at Rutgers medical school. I ended up getting a 3.95.”
An Issue with Taking the MCAT
I have always had this problem with standardized testing. It’s been just a mess. I always lacked that confidence. I took it twice the first time and I did 500. I did a whole prep class with Kaplan and had the Blueprint QBank, which was quite helpful. I was scoring around 509-510. Then I didn’t sleep well the night before the test day and got a 503. I know that I can do it. But it’s a hurdle that I have yet to cross.
[06:00] How to Overcome Test Anxiety
It’s actually awesome that our student understands that about yourself, that she has some anxiety around standardized tests and about going in. A lot of students who struggle with test anxiety put this extra pressure upon themselves thinking that if they don’t do it the first time, then they’re never going to get into medical school.
There are people out there who can actually help people with this. They’re called therapists. Back in Session 337 of The Premed Years Podcast, Dr. we featured Dr. David Puder, who is a psychiatrist and he does a lot of tests at work with medical students. And so, there are people out there who can help you with this if you’re someone also struggling with this. Just google and try to find test anxiety specialists in your area. Some people will take beta blockers just to slow their heart rate down and keep them calm. So there are ways potentially to work through this.
And so, this is step number one for this student. She has to make sure that the anxiety part of needing to take the test again and the pressure that she’s putting on herself is as little of a factor as possible.
[08:56] How to Explain Your Gap Years
This student also explains how she took a gap year because she just had to take some time off. But she’s worried about how she’s going to explain this to medical schools. She’s in clinical research, but not having the patient-facing experience that she had for so many years.
She doesn’t have to worry about what is done because she can’t change that. The only thing that she can do at this point is to think about what kind of narrative she wants to come forward with.
That being said, she still has many months to almost a year until the next cycle opens up. So she still has time to find a scribe job or a medical assistant job, or anything that is patient-facing again.'Find something that works for you with your schedule and with what you want to do.'Click To Tweet
Too many students think black or white, A or B, and they don’t think about well, there’s “either or.”
You can actually do both – have a job that gives you flexibility now and then find something that you can add on that doesn’t add a lot of stress and time commitment. Maybe it’s one day every few weeks or one day, a month, whatever it is, that’s giving you the clinical experience side of things that allows you to remember why you’re doing this and reconfirm that you want to keep doing this. And so, there’s no right or wrong way that you can proceed forward.
[13:14] Reusing Letters of Recommendation
Since this student is a reapplicant, she’s thinking if she could reuse the letters of recommendation that she had the first time around. The ideal scenario is to reach out to the letter writers and rekindle that connection. Then explain to them that one of the things that were recommended to get a letter of recommendation dated the year that you applied to medical school. And if it’s possible, ask if they can just re-date their letter of recommendation at a bare minimum and resubmit it when she’s ready for the next cycle.
That’s the best case scenario. Now, if they ghost you and you don’t hear from them, or they say no, then you can use an older letter of recommendation.
[15:40] Retaking Classes and Reusing Personal Statements
Q: “I’ve seen individuals saying that it may be worth it to retake classes that maybe you got a C in an undergrad, like in organic chemistry and physics. Do you think it’s even worth it at this point?”
A: No. If it’s a C-minus then you could retake the classes. But if you got a C, then you don’t have to take those classes. It’s fine.
Lastly, our student is wondering if she could still pull things from her old personal statement, such as her reason for wanting to get into medical school since it obviously hasn’t changed.
What You Can’t Change
The “seed” has not changed, whatever it was or wherever she was exposed to healthcare in some way that made her think of exploring medicine. The reason why you started doing this all in the first place doesn’t change. And so you can’t change that part of your personal statement. So this student will have to use a lot of the same narrative about why she’s doing this.
What You Can Change
Now, what she can change is the language because she has grown as a person. The language changes. So reread it, massage it, and use language that you would use now that feels comfortable for you now.
“Our language changes a lot as we continue to grow.”Click To Tweet
Additionally, if there are supporting experiences that support your reasons for why you want to do this now, then that would be great as well.
Join the Application Academy!