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 more than 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 past 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 (read on to learn what these are).
Four ways to show you really care about medicine
The adcom might think that you’ve just fallen into this career path because it’s what you’ve been exposed to early on. Or maybe you think it’s your only option because your parents are pressuring you. Or perhaps you think it’ll be easy to get in because your parents did it.
If you are the child of a physician and are applying to med school, you need to do the following:
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 do them on your own.
2. Go above and beyond the average activities required of an applicant
Because you 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 your 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 those who are doing so because of 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 in microexpressions during your interviews.
Watch: Admissions guru Linda Abraham weighs in on applying to med school as the child of doctors
Examine your motives and be ready to voice them
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 the 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.