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Reapplying After Withdrawing from Medical School

Session 197

What if you were enrolled in a medical school, withdrew, and then reapplied? Today’s question comes from a former Caribbean medical school student.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:48] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I applied to medical school after completing my MPH, a two-year program in one year’s time and did not get into any schools in the U.S. So I chose to forego reapplication and I went to Ross University in the Caribbean for medical school in the Fall of 2015. 

Long story short, I did not pass my first semester by less than 1 point. Unfortunately, that meant I had to repeat the entire first semester. I thought really long and hard and did not feel as if the environment was conducive for my learning and succeeding. 

Even considering the fact that I did not pass my first semester, added to the fact that I would be a graduate of a foreign medical school, I did not feel that my residency chances would be great. So I bailed and decided to reinvent myself – work harder, get smarter, and reapply.

So after much deliberation, I decided to reapply this coming cycle. I’m seeking some advice on my next steps. 

I am currently working as a clinical research coordinator, going on my fourth month in the Department of Family Medicine managing over 70 projects with several clinical trials and sponsored grants and other industry grant sponsors such as the NCAA and the Department of Defense. 

Following my withdrawal from Ross University, I was an adjunct professor at the largest university in Florida for the Spring of 2016 and currently studying for the MCAT everyday for 4-6 hours a day planning to take the new MCAT in March. 

I’m volunteering two days a week with a local primary school vaccination program, elementary and middle school students. I am retaking biochemistry and four math courses – Algebra, Statistics, Precalculus Algebra, and Trignometry – that were taken as dual and normal courses as a Sophomore in high school.

My current GPAs are as follows: Cumulative 3.42, Science 3.4, Non-science 3.43. After taking the five courses – Cumulative 3.53, Science 3.48, and Non-science 3.58.

The reason for not pursuing an SMP or more formal postbacs is that I do not have the time or money to be able to go without working and just accruing for their student loan debt. 

I will be set with physician shadowing, will have plenty of research experience, and volunteering. I just want the chance to get in the door. I’ve spoken with a few DO programs and they all state that students who are previous medical students go through a separate process for review of their applications.

My questions are:

  1. Is it worth taking a chance in reapplying?
  2. Am I doing the right thing retaking biochemistry as my only science?
  3. What else can I do to boost my application?
  4. How do I address the Ross University situation?
  5. Should my personal statement be focused on overcoming failures or focus less on my failures and more on marketing the “new” me?”

[04:22] Is it Worth Taking a Chance in Reapplying

It’s not impossible. But it’s really, really hard. Do you want to be a physician? Do you want to go to medical school? Then, of course, it’s worth it. If you want to go to medical school and you want to be a physician, then you might as well reapply.

Whether you’re going to get in, we don’t know. Unfortunately, this student has proven with at least one semester, that they can’t pass medical school.

'Medical schools want to accept students that they know will get through medical school in four years.'Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Reapplying to Med School: What You Need to Know]

[07:00] Overcoming Failures or Marketing the New Me?

The schools are going to want to know what happened, why it happened, and what you’ve done to overcome. 

'How are you different now because of it? How can you assure the admissions committee that it's not going to happen again?'Click To Tweet

That’s the direction you’re secondary essays are going to be focused on. Your personal statement will focus a little bit on it. The goal of the personal statement is why you want to be a doctor. But in this case, you’re going to need to be able to also touch on owning up to your story and here’s why you’re a different person now.

You have to convince the admissions committee as best you can that it’s worth taking a chance on you. A lot of them won’t, unfortunately, because it’s not worth their time to have a potential black mark on their class. This is the battle you have to overcome because you’ve already proven that medical school is hard for you.

[Related episode: This Student Didn’t Let Her Fears Overcome Her]

[08:43] Retaking Biochem as Your Only Science

You have proven that medical school is hard for you. Now, you’re going back and retaking classes and you’re avoiding the sciences except for biochemistry.

Again, this is telling the admissions committee that you’re scared of science classes. You’re not very good at science classes so you don’t want to take any more science classes to potentially do poorly in. And that’s a mistake!

'For AMCAS, Math counts as science but not for AACOMAS. So you have to be careful there.'Click To Tweet

[09:20] How to Boost Your Application

The general framework is consistent clinical experience, consistent shadowing, volunteering, research (if you’re interested), and good grades and a good MCAT score.

[Related episode: How Can I Improve My Med School Application?]

[09:45] Addressing Caribbean School Situation

You have to talk about what happened. Why did you struggle at Ross? You have to be careful whether it’s failing medical school or failing undergrad, or being arrested. You can’t say that Ross set you up for failure. Whatever happens in your journey, the discussion has to be around you, and not them. You can’t say that the environment at Ross wasn’t exactly great.

'Focus on your mistakes. You have to own this situation.'Click To Tweet

You need to talk about what you’ve learned from it. Talk about how you’ve moved on and how you’ve grown. But how have you proven that you’ve grown if you’re only taking Biochem as your only science?

You should be able to show a track record of doing well in the science to show them that you’ve overcome and figured out this new learning style.

[Related episode: DO vs Caribbean Medical School? What Should I Do?]

[11:00] Medical School is Much Harder, Way Harder Than Undergrad

Going full circle, medical school is much harder than undergrad classes. Retaking some math classes in undergrad is great. You can get an A in undergrad classes. But medical school is going to be a different level. And the medical schools you’re applying are always going to be taking a risk with every student they accept.

Will the student do well in medical school or were they just good in undergrad? It’s the analogy of being a star in college and then not doing well in the professional leagues.

[12:25] Final Thoughts

It’s a hard situation but never say never. With almost every situation, build relationships. Find the medical school that you want to sink all of your efforts into and build that relationship with that school. Prove to them that you’re worth the chance.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

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