There has been an interesting shift in medical school admissions for applicants whose parents are doctors. In 1989, these applicants were 15% more likely to get into medical school. When I first became involved in admissions over ten years ago, students who had a physician for a parent were still more likely to get accepted into medical school. Ten years later, the opposite is true. In the last few years especially, I have found that these applicants are less likely to get into medical school. Those who are accepted have some interesting similarities (see below). If you are the child of a physician and are applying to med school, you need to:
1. Demonstrate an independent interest in medicine
Rather than working at your parent’s private practice or exclusively assisting them locally or abroad, you should seek out clinical experiences that you have a genuine interest in and complete on your own.
2. Go above and beyond the average activities required of an applicant
Since you do have an unfair advantage in having access to opportunities that other premed students do not, you can set yourself apart by seeking out leadership, community service, research and clinical activities as early as possible and putting in more time than the average applicant to demonstrate your commitment. You do have something to prove.
3. Clarify your unique career goals and academic interests in your application essays
With a front row seat to your parent’s medical practice, you understand what the profession entails on a daily basis. Having witnessed the hard work and sacrifices that are required, you must articulate how and why you are personally well suited to this profession. The more unique and specific the career goals and academic interests, the better; the details will help you—because they will come across as more authentic.
4. Apply because you genuinely want to become a doctor – not because of family pressure
In essays and interviews, it is fairly easy to identify the applicants who are applying for personal reasons and not family pressure. If you are maintaining a legacy rather than entering medicine because it is your calling, you will inevitably display a lack of motivation, usually throughout each step of the process. These attitudes will reveal themselves in the language you use in your essays and micro expressions given at interviews.
If you are applying for a combination of reasons, it can help to identify and sort these reasons so that they don’t surprise you later. When we are not aware of our emotions, we can surprise ourselves. In the stress of an application process, surprises can lead to ambivalence or mixed signals that will derail your application. Take some time to examine your motivations and assess whether they are strong enough to see you through a lengthy application process.
Work one-on-one with an expert admissions consultant to help you distinguish yourself from the competition and demonstrate to the adcom that you’re passionate about medicine not because of your parents but because of YOU. For more assistance, you are welcome to contact me or my colleagues at Accepted. Check out our Medical School Application Services here for more information.
Lentz, Bernard F. and Laband, David, N. “Why So Many Children of Doctors Become Doctors: Nepotism v. Human Capital Transfers.” The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 24, No. 3, 1989, pp 396-413.Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!