One of my main goals when I
sit down with a client is to discuss at length with them
their direction, hopes, and aspirations in regards to
pursing a medical degree. How far are they willing to
go? What level of commitment do they have, even when
faced with life's unexpected challenges? Can they do
what needs to be done in order to achieve their goals?
This discussion is important because it helps me see
what kind of medical student and future practitioner
they can be. Sometimes, these students possess great
MCAT and GPA scores, attend
excellent collegiate programs,
but are at a complete loss on how to represent
themselves in order to really stand out to
I remember one client of mine Jay who fit this mold.
His MCAT score was at the top end of the average
and he possessed an excellent GPA. But he was highly
concerned regarding his schooling. He had attended M.I.T.
his first year of college and did marginally well his
GPA was good, but not exceptional. However, he was
M.I.T.'s program is very academically oriented with
little time for the practical experience and hands-on
development of the type Jay desired. Jay wanted to
follow an Emergency Medical Technician track for his
life, however, which demands a lot of practical skills
and direction. That type of experience was not available
at M.I.T. Now, Jay knew he could finish with a degree
from M.I.T. with a decent GPA. But he knew it wouldnt
get him closer to his goal.
So Jay transferred to a 'lesser' program, one which had
a program more suited to the type of skills and
experience he needed. He excelled in his academics,
netting close to a 4.0, and had a lot of time to engage
in activities and practices that really built on his
desired EMT direction.
However, when Jay came to me, he was very concerned that
the admissions boards would see his transfer as a 'cop
out,' despite the better academic performance and
experience he had gained. He had no confidence in
telling his story why he had done what he did, and
what direction he really wanted to take.
He was falling in the same trap that many medical school
applicants do getting too wrapped up in their
application's image and not really understanding the
value of their own assets.
I helped Jay understand that these medical admissions
boards weren't just looking for great numbers and grades
they were looking for great people who would make
excellent practitioners in the medical field. He had
done what was best for him and his life goals by
transferring from M.I.T.; he needed to communicate that
in a decisive, effective manner that showed his level of
commitment as well as his willingness to make the hard
decisions in order to pursue his dreams.
The fact that he'd been accepted to M.I.T. in the first
place was a great point in his favor, his grades while
good but not stellar showed his competency, despite
not being a great fit to his personal goals. By doing
even better academically in a 'lower' school that had
the programs and experiences he really wanted, he could
show the admissions committee that he would be a great
addition to their program.
I know Jay's application communicated his story well
he had a hard time choosing what school to attend after
nearly all of his target schools offered him slots in
- Contributed by Wayne Shelton, Ph.D. Wayne served for
ten years as a member of a medical admissions committee
and made thousands of accept / reject / waitlist
decisions during that time.
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