“Dear Anne, on behalf of…..School of Osteopathic Medicine, I am proud to offer you admission to the entering class of 2018.”
I don’t think there are any words sufficient to describe the emotions one gets overcome with when reading a sentence like that. But if I were to find the closest words, they would be abundant gratefulness, uncontainable joy, total disbelief, momentary shock, and explosion of excitement. Over a year ago, I posted a blog about medical school rejections and today I cannot believe I am writing about my acceptances. This post is for the hard working pre-med, the second, third, fifth, sixth time applicant, nontraditional student, and all the other dreamers out there. From rock bottom came about fierce determination, endless persistence, and the strongest of faith. I’m here today to tell you that you CAN make your dreams come true as I made mine, you CAN reach your goals as I fought for mine, and you CAN come back from failure as I overcame mine.
The hardest part about being a medical school applicant is the waiting. Waiting years to prepare for the MCAT and get your score, waiting months after submitting your application for interview invites, and then waiting weeks to hear a decision from the schools. It’s no wonder that there are high rates of discouragement, anxiety, and self-doubt for the average pre-med. During my first application cycle, I was constantly checking my e-mails to see if any school wanted to interview me. It drove me absolutely crazy every time I didn’t see a new e-mail or if a new e-mail was just from retail store advertisements. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to medical school, I knew I had to retake my MCAT and start the waiting process all. over. again. Waiting is probably the hardest thing you’ll have to do during this journey to medical school, but I promise you that the wait will be worth it once you finally read the first sentence of your acceptance letter.
Here’s a misconception that pre-meds, myself included, have come to believe: all successful pre-meds are naturally geniuses, they are perfect in everything they do, they actually DO everything, and they have their lives put together. Is this true for some pre-meds? Maybe. Is this true for ALL pre-meds? Absolutely not. How do I know this? Because I could never learn as quickly and easily as the guy/girl next to me in intro to chemistry, I wasn’t awarded star hospital volunteer, and I definitely wasn’t in every single organization on campus. Yes, if you are all of these things that people tend to think of pre-meds, as many of my closest friends are, then I truly admire you and you’ll probably have a high chance of getting into medical school, but reality is that not everyone can be like that, and THAT’S OK. The thing I want to emphasize is grit. Angela Lee Duckworth defined grit as “a passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It is having stamina and sticking with your future day in and day out…and working really hard to make that future a reality.” Some of us have to work 3X harder than the person next to us to achieve the same goals. Some of us have to read the textbook 2-3 times before we understand the concept whereas others read it once and fully comprehend. Some of us needs tons of practice before we can complete a procedure while others can master it right away. And finally, some of us have to apply many times to medical school before getting accepted. This isn’t to to say that those who learn quickly and easily don’t work hard or struggles at times, but this is to say that those of us on the other end of the spectrum should NOT be discouraged. Rather, embrace your shortcomings and use it to become the best version of yourself that you can be. My own personal definition of grit is working hard, working constantly, and working against all adversity to fulfill your dreams.
So after all this talk about grit, you can imagine just how important and how much my acceptance letters mean to me. I’ve kept every single acceptance letter in a special place at home to remind myself of the hardships I’ve overcome and of the challenges ahead. I’ve struggled and overcome, and I will constantly do it again on my way to becoming a physician. I’ve struggled with my science courses, I’ve stretched myself too thin to emulate the perfect pre-med only to be overwhelmed and unsuccessful, I’ve been crushed by the MCAT, and I’ve read so many med school rejection letters that I practically memorized them all. And yet, I am about to enter medical school in the fall of 2018. How did I do it? I went to office hours to get help in my classes as well as stayed up late to study, I rethought my priorities to only invested my time in extracurriculars and jobs that I cared about, I took to 2 years to study for and retake the MCAT, and I continued to apply for medical school.
I cannot express to you how grateful I am to be at this point on my life, and if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I couldn’t have persevered and be successful. Don’t give up on your dreams even if it feels utterly impossible. Don’t compare yourself to the next student, but rather compare yourself to how far you came from yesterday. Don’t give up on your goals, but rather give-in to your desire for success. Finally, don’t doubt yourself, but rather believe in your abilities. It’s time to start making our dreams our realities.