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Overcoming a DUI on His Way to Med School

Session 108

Session 108

In this episode, I will be talking with Ryan who has a very interesting story which I think a lot of you will be able to pick lessons from. Especially if you’re a med school applicant who is concerned about having some red flags on your application—wait till you hear about Ryan’s story!

Ryan is a premed student who now has an acceptance to medical school. His path was filled with tons of speed bumps. A nontraditional student in all senses of the word, Ryan started his path coming to college in order to play football, leaving school to join the military, and then just deciding to be premed in his last semester of college. During his undergrad years, Ryan did all sorts of terrible things when viewed from a premed standpoint. He had issues involving drinking tickets, vandalism, jumping in elevators, and getting a DUI (he got a little lucky there, thanks to the state of Wisconsin!).

Truly, these are huge issues for any admissions committee looking for altruistic people and seeing all those stupid mistakes. But how did he get past these red flags to get his medical school acceptance?

Learn from Ryan as talks about his bad decisions and most importantly, how he was able to rise above all of that to fully realize his dream of becoming a doctor.

Ryan’s undergrad years:

  • Attending college just to play football
  • Leaving school and joining the military
  • Doing lab work to pursue grad school
  • Deciding to be premed in his last semester of college
  • What made him decide to be premed
  • The first steps he took to apply to medical school
  • Taking MCAT practice tests

Red flags on his medical school application:

  • Getting kicked out of his dorm (first semester of college)
  • Alcohol issues
  • Vandalism
  • Bar fights
  • Getting a DUI

[Listen to Episode 319 for an interview with Matt, who also had a DUI before med school]

Advice for applying to medical school with red flags

Ryan worked at a lab for their school’s premed advisor, and he got great advice:

  • To be really honest and not withholding anything throughout the application process
  • To be honest and forthcoming about how he has changed

Addressing red flags during the application process

  • Choosing not to address his red flags in his personal statement
  • Addressing it in the secondary applications
  • His letters of recommendation played an enormous role in his application

[Related episode: Should I Write About Red Flags in My Personal Statement?]

Submitting 16 MD applications and 12 DO applications

  • Getting 4 MD interview requests and 6 DO interview requests
  • Going through with 4 interviews
  • What came up during his interviews, considering his stack of bad decisions
When you have red flags on your application, what the admissions committee really needs to hear is, What changed?Click To Tweet

He focused on:

  • How he is different now
  • Why he is different now

Preparing for his medical school interviews

[Check out Dr. Gray’s book The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview]

Addressing red flags in his interview

  • Not giving excuses for why it happened but providing a little context
  • Talking about his spiritual experience and how his priorities changed
  • Talking about how he has demonstrated that change

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

  • For those who are taking the MCAT, do not spend time with the calculations.
  • Own your mistakes. If you’re dealing with med school red flags of your own, communicate that you’re very much responsible for what you’ve done, but be able to demonstrate how you’ve changed.
  • Do what you’re really passionate about, and make sure you do it very well.
  • Start early enough to give yourself time to do well (on MCAT, personal statement, essays, etc.)
  • Be able to communicate how you’re different and what you can add to the class through your past experiences.
Communicate to admission committees how you're different and what you can add to the class through your past experiences.Click To Tweet

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