In today’s episode, I talk with Danielle Ward as she shares about her own share of successes and failures on the path to medical school. Danielle was rejected from medical school twice. She also took the MCAT 4 times over 5 years to finally get an acceptance at the Georgia Campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Danielle’s story is a perfect example of perseverance. Probably the biggest lesson gleaned from this episode is that you don’t have to wait for things to happen to you. Instead, you have to go out and make things happen for you.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
Danielle’s journey to medical school:
- Volunteering for the hurricane Katrina victims during her Freshman year as her defining moment to pursue medicine at the Louisiana State University
- Mapping out her four-year plan around medicine
- Joining organizations centered around medicine, volunteering, and community services to show her interest in becoming a physician
Danielle’s challenges along the way:
- Giving birth to her daughter during Sophomore year
- Applying to medical school with a low GPA
- Marital issues
- Studying for the MCAT
- She was working two jobs, taking care of her toddler, and attending classes, so studying went on the back burner
- Danielle took the MCAT four times
Tools Danielle used to prep for the MCAT:
- AAMC practice test and assessment
How she prepared for her second application cycle to medical school:
- List everything to identify all your weaknesses or something you left out.
- Danielle took a research position in parasitology and immunology
[Related episode: Reapplying to Medical School: What You Need to Know.]
Managing everything with a child:
- Time management: When you don’t have a choice, find a way to make it happen.
Flexible grad school experience:
- Took her masters in biochemistry
- Took an online grad school program at University of St. Joseph in West Hartford Connecticut
On her 3rd time applying to medical school:
- She had already been rejected from medical school twice, but she didn’t give up.
- She was previously rejected at PCOM Georgia Campus, but she already had the research, publications, hospital volunteering plus her grad school GPA (which did the magic for her!)
- Retook the MCAT, didn’t do as well (but got her physics up)
The benefits of online classes: Accountability
- Weekly discussion boards
- Weekly 5-page essays (minimum)
What helped her get a high grad school GPA:
- Independent learning
Why Danielle thinks her MCAT scores never budged:
- Overthinking questions and not really paying attention to them
- Not doing enough practice questions
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
- Don’t get discouraged. Find a support system. Ask for help.
- If you get rejected, find out what you did wrong, fix it, and go back at it again. Even if you get rejected from medical school twice or three times, it is possible to fix things and be accepted.
- Everybody has different learning styles. So be flexible as you progress through the ranks.
Links and Other Resources:
- Follow Danielle’s journey on her blog, aspiringminoritydoctor.com.
- Related episode: 54-year-old Med Student Overcame 5 MCATs, Rejection, and More.
- Related episode: 1st Year of Medical School for a Nontraditional Premed.
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