It’s medical school interview season yet again and I remember how nervous I felt preparing for my interviews last year. This year, after helping with the admissions and interviews process, I am glad and relieved to be on the other side.
Recently while helping some prospective students practice interview questions, I recalled the anxious and indefinite feelings I experienced while going through the entire process. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, being IN medical school has definitely been better than being OUT. The class material is challenging and the work can get grueling, but I love what I am doing and I couldn’t be more excited. We’ll see if my optimism and idealist sentiments last throughout the clinical years.
Some of this relief may be from the pass/fail grading system that discourages competitiveness in our class. Another factor is the amazing classmates and teachers we have or the fact that as medical students, we are well supported and funded.
However, I think I have singled down my relief to a simple fact. It is easier to get out of medical school, than it is to get in. What I mean by that is that getting into medicine is a chances game. You try your best to compete against others, you present yourself as best as possible and you hope for the best. There is no guarantee that any school will accept you. You may get in this year, be waitlisted or rejected. You may have to wait a year, rewrite the mcat, and apply again.
On the other side, the graduation rate for medical classes is unanimous. Very few students drop out due to academic problems or financial reasons. The students who do not complete their degrees usually choose so for personal reasons. Sure, it may be a chances game when it comes to the residency match and getting your choice of specialty. But regardless, you will be graduating as a doctor and career path is fairly certain.
After you get in, there are many new questions to be answered. What kind of doctor do I want to be? Where will I do my residency? How will I balance my life style with my career? But what you do know is that you’re going to be a doctor. If you study hard, work hard and get along with others, you will finish. Because of the enormous time and resources spent on each medical student, it is in all school’s best interest to graduate you; it’s a solid guarantee. However, as a premedical student there are no guarantees or entitlements. You do your best and lady luck does the rest.
The feeling of uncertainty (which is pervasive through medicine) is unsettling. And eliminating that unneeded stress, makes being accepted that much sweeter.