After all the hectic measures you’ve taken to get your primary application and secondary applications submitted, there may be a long period of time before you hear back from medical schools. It’s partly due to the time of year—all the fall and winter holidays—and the thousands of applications that they have to process. You may be wondering what would be the best use of this time or if there’s anything that you can do to improve your chances of acceptance.
With over a decade of experience in medical school admissions and with an 88% acceptance rate in assisting clients this past application cycle (9 out of 10 of the students I assisted last cycle received an acceptance), I recommend using this time to complete the following activities:
1. Get Healthy: Use this time constructively to exercise, eat well and find new outlets to reduce your stress and anxiety during this high pressure application process. Try new sports. Explore a green smoothie cleanse. Meditate. The more tools that you can identify that work well for you in learning to manage the stress that you are experiencing will provide you with the skills to be successful in medical school and your career. This is only the beginning! Most importantly, when you’re invited to interview and you’re in the best health of your life, you’re more likely to shine during the final step of the process and make a good impression.
2. Gain a Sense of Perspective: While you’re waiting, take some time to think about how far you’ve come in your life and your education. Look at old year books, journals and scrapbooks. If you don’t have any scrapbooks or photo albums, use this time to create them because when you’re accepted into medical school there won’t be time. And having a little scrapbook or photo book that you’ve made of your life could be an inspirational little tool to have to look through when you’re feeling down or depleted during your medical education. Create a box of your favorite memories that you can use to cheer yourself up when needed.
3. Visit Friends and Family: Spend time with the people you love the most. Build your network of support now because you will need it during medical school! Also, think about what you can do for others. I find that I am happiest when I am helping others—it takes my mind off of anything that is bothering me. It can help you gain a new perspective.
4. Stay Connected to Your Volunteer and Clinical Activities: Don’t stop building upon your professional resume just because you’ve already submitted your application. Use the time to pursue the volunteer work and clinical experiences that you’re most excited about. You’ll have lots to talk about during your interview and your genuine enthusiasm will shine through.
5. Update Medical Schools: If you have new grades, publications or awards, you can send an update letter to medical schools. I don’t recommend sending this letter unless you really do have something new and significant to share. The letter should highlight your accomplishments and provide a summary of the most recent developments. You’re welcome to work with me or one of my colleagues, if you’d like assistance with outlining and editing this letter.
6. Visit Medical Schools: If you have not already done so, visit all of the medical schools in your area that you would like to attend. You can call the admissions office and schedule a tour (see my blog series about Visiting Medical Schools for more information on this topic) or attend premed or pre-health fairs. Networking and learning more about your options can be helpful. If you receive multiple acceptances, the more information you collect now will make your decision much easier later.
7. Journal: Record your thoughts and experiences. What an exciting period of time in your life! How much would “future you” enjoy reading your reflections about applying to medical school 10 years later when you’re a practicing physician? It could help you gain perspective and connect deeply with the feelings you’re experiencing so that you can process them in healthy ways that will move you forward in your life.
Worse case scenario, if you are not accepted into medical school this application cycle, you can reapply. You are always welcome to contact me or one of my colleagues for assistance. My area of expertise is helping applicants get into medical school through all possible routes. For more information about all the ways to get into medical school, please check out my book, The Definitive Guide to Pre-Medical Postbaccalaureate Programs: The handbook for career changers and academic record enhancers who want a chance at medical school. I’d be honored to assist you through the process!
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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.