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"Congratulations! We are pleased to … offer a position to the MD program"

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. – Oscar Wilde

Everyone reacts to medical school acceptances differently. My parents were overjoyed, smiling and dancing when they first heard I was accepted. My siblings reacted loudly too. My sister was at the library when she found out and she later told me she made such a racket that the librarian threatened to kick her out.

I had friends who wanted to celebrate with me and friends that were sad because I was leaving them. I heard praises of, “you must be so smart to get into x school” and criticism such as, “I heard x school is easy to get into.”  A lot of people swore at me, “HOLY SHIT, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GOT IN” and with words like, “SON OF A BITCH, I wish I was in your shoes.” I had friends who did not know I was applying to medical school , and even stranger, some relatives who had thought I was already in medical school.

As for me, when I read those words in the title of this post, I went through so many different emotions.

  1. Joy – I shouted a victory cheer. I was beaming a smile from cheek to cheek. “I GOT IN, I GOT IN, I GOT IN!”
  2. Disbelief – the next second, I stared at the letter to see if this was a dream. I couldn’t believe it! I reread the words, to make sure I had read it right. I was sure they made a mistake, how could they accept me over all the other qualified applicants that won’t make it in this round.
  3. Satisfaction – All those nights of studying, preparing for tests, writing lab reports finally added up. My efforts had paid off and I felt satisfied. It was gratifying.
  4. Gratefulness – I was thankful for this acceptance. It could have just as easily been someone else receiving it. Lady luck was with me and I was thankful.
  5. Relief – I was exiting the rat-race known as pre-med. No more organic chemistry reactions, no more marks squeezing. Pass/Fail here I come!
  6. Emptiness – I was surprised that I felt this way. All my dreams and goals of becoming a doctor was finally accomplished. What was there left to do?

For the past 5-6 years, I had set my sight on becoming a doctor. It started in high school, when I first wrote down that goal and researched the path needed to get there. Over the years, I had moments of self-doubt. I wondered if I should continue in this direction, did I have the right motives? Do I like doing what doctors do or do I just like the idea of being a doctor? What if, out there, the dream career was waiting for me and it wasn’t medicine? I read dozens of books on medicine, trying to understand it from another perspective. I tried to reason myself out of this choice to become an architect, engineer or anything else. At other times, I had surges of confidence. “If I don’t get in the first time, I’ll try again for a second, and third and so on, I’ll do whatever it takes.” When I had no motivation to study, I reminded myself that being a doctor required hard work and persistence. During one extreme month, I ate, slept, dreamt getting into medical school. I had an unhealthy obsession.

When you have been consumed by a goal or passion, it becomes part of you, your identity. And when you finally accomplish that dream, you lose a part of yourself. It feels like an Olympic athlete past his prime. You worked so long and hard for it, and after you get it, then what? But after musing over the last few months, I have come to accept that this is a new start. I won’t forget who I was before, but I must also look forward to who I will become. The road of medicine is long, the education is at least a decade long and afterwards life-long learning. I know that this is not the end, but just the end of the beginning.

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  1. TheMemoirist
    TheMemoirist July 31, 2008

    Congrats on getting in! I really like your site so far! Your flowchart is awesome/somewhat hilarious (even if it isn’t supposed to be… such is the nature of flowcharts, IMO). I’m looking forward to reading this blog!

    Best of luck with MS-1!

  2. Amy
    Amy October 19, 2010

    oh my, this article made me emotional. I’m in my last year of high school and going through the very same doubts as you have stated above and more. I also ultrafocus on any text that has “med” or “doctor” or “mcat” in it. I am obsessed already. I understand it’s a longgggg road but I look forward to it all.

    • medaholic
      medaholic October 22, 2010

      you still have a bit of time, don’t get too stressed over it. in university, don’t be so narrow-minded. explore other subjects and potential projects. you’ll find it will enrich your experience more and perhaps resolidify your thoughts on why you want to do medicine

  3. David
    David June 14, 2011

    I can only imagine what it must felt like reading your acceptance letter. Like Amy, your post made me emotional. Missing out on med last year made me realise that this is really what I want to do. I am hoping 2011 will be my year 🙂

    Awesome blog btw! Cheers from Aus

  4. Anna
    Anna June 27, 2011

    Love your blog! I wished I found this earlier…before I got accepted into med school. you offer very insightful tips..and I had referred your blog to friends who are currently applying to med school. Anyways..I like this post..because that’s exactly how I felt after i got my letter…..all the excitement..but then emptiness! hahaha:P Glad to know that I am not the only one who felt that way.

    • medaholic
      medaholic June 28, 2011

      Thanks for the referral. Don’t worry, those feelings of emptiness will soon be overwhelmed by the experience of medical school. Best of luck in your studies. Hope you stick around to read some other posts, hopefully you’ll find them helpful for med school.

  5. Anna
    Anna June 28, 2011

    Of course, def will stick around… Based on your previous posts, I am curious to know if you are considering to get a degree in public health/ public policy. You brought up some great points with the issue of chronic diseases and other aspects of health that are outside of simply human body and science! I just finished my master in public health..although i’ve yet to figure out how that degree will fit into my future career, i thought it has taught me many great things that perhaps you cannot get in medical school.

    • medaholic
      medaholic June 28, 2011

      I don’t know right now whether I’m going to be getting any other degrees in the future. I’m still trying to figure out which residency program I want to do.
      I think a MPH is a great degree to have, it gives you research background, you can do policy/admin work too, and teaches you to think in a bigger picture than just an isolated disease. You start to look at things that really affect health more than our medicine, such as socioeconomic class and preventable risk factors.

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