On Being a Reapplicant

I mentioned in my previous ‘Narrative’ post that I was a reapplicant to medical colleges this year. This was the second time I applied, the first was in the 2011 cycle for entry in 2012. You could say I took my time to re-prepare and make sure that this was truly the career for me. Though, if I’m being honest, I never gave up on becoming a physician.

So, summer of 2011, I’ve been working as a tech in one of the labs on campus for almost a year, and I was applying to medical schools as I had always planned. Throughout the process, though, I had the distinct feeling that things were not going as swimmingly as perhaps they should have been. I felt lost at sea, having submitted a personal statement that I was not terribly proud of and drowning in secondary essays written in the same unsteady voice.

While I was applying, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a one month leave of absence from my lab job to volunteer with and shadow physicians in the public health system in Morocco, my home country. This turned out to be the single most impactful clinical experience in my life, even to this day. However, because I had already submitted my primary application and some of my secondaries at the time, I was not able to fully relate the experiences I had in Morocco to the schools to which I was applying. And, to be honest, the whole experience was still too fresh — I hadn’t given myself enough time to really ruminate, sift through the experiences, and allow the “lessons” to come into view.

And so it went. I finished up all my secondaries (which was a most daunting task as I had applied very, very, broadly) and come early spring, I received my final notice of rejection. This was a staggering blow. As this wave of rejection washed over me, I felt as though I had been dragged deeper into the currents with no land in sight.

At that point, I had worked almost two years in the lab, and I was relatively certain that, while it had been an interesting and educational experience, it was not one that I planned to continue much longer. Maybe that was a product of my having been set on going back to school after two years as a lab tech. In some way, I was determined to make that shift, so I began searching for masters programs, primarily in public health. It was then that I happened across an intriguing program that was a blend of public health and statistics: a Masters of Science in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. In that moment, something clicked within me and I knew that this was the program for me. It was as if, after months of treading water, I had finally found land.

I quickly put together the application materials and found myself going through the awkward process of reaching out to my medical school recommenders once more, explaining that I had, in fact, not been admitted into medical school, but that I hoped they might be able to send letters to a new program instead.

If applying to medical school was long and drawn out, this process was the exact opposite. From application to acceptance was barely a month. And shortly after that, I was back in a classroom. I was beyond excited to be a student again but also felt a bit nervous to be exploring such uncharted territory. This was never an eventuality I’d imagined or planned for — I’d always thought that I’d finish undergrad and, within two years, head to medical school. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d find myself back in school — for more math, no less!

Throughout the master’s program, I never quite lost sight of my end goal — I remained steadfast in my desire to eventually become a physician. Nevertheless, I allowed myself the privilege of taking time; I didn’t want to rush through things again. Many factors led me to wait a bit before reapplying, not the least of which was the fact that I had to sit for the MCAT again since my scores had since expired.

With these things in mind, I decided to re-enter the workforce and prepare for the MCAT and reapplication as well. It took me a while to find my footing and after an overwhelming few months of trying to study on my own subjects that I hadn’t seen in years, I eventually decided that classes were the way to go. So, I signed up for courses à la carte at local community colleges and online and decided to take an MCAT prep course as well. After two years of courses, I took the MCAT and re-applied.

I have to say, I felt much more sure of myself this time around. I realized that the time I had taken had allowed me to gain perspective, to ground myself in my galvanized earnestness to enter the medical field. I suppose the moral of this long and winded tale is this: don’t be hasty. There is truly seldom any reason to rush through the process, to approach a goal frantically that requires more graceful, purposeful movements.

Oh, and also: don’t give up 🙂

Why am I Decidedly DO?

To answer this question, I’d like to first talk about a bit of history…

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a physician, and that was something everyone in my life encouraged and supported. I had worked hard throughout high school and college with this end goal in mind. I had taken the MCAT during my fourth year of college (to have some reassurance from the fact that the material was still fresh in my mind 🙂 ) but decided to wait to apply until the following year, electing instead to take up work as a tech for a lab on campus.

In 2011, I applied to medical school, and after long months of nerve-wracking anticipation, I received my final rejection letter. This was a staggering blow and it took me a while to pick myself back up. I ultimately decided to go for a master’s degree, and for this decision, I am eternally grateful.

To keep this blog post a bit shorter and more to the point, the skills I picked up through my master’s program led me right to the data analysis job that I have had for almost five years, now, with a healthcare quality company. I didn’t know it when I started there, but this experience would lead me right back to medicine, and with more conviction than I had ever felt in all those years of wanting and waiting.

Why? Because the time I spent in a different but related field allowed me to gain perspective and reaffirm my interest in medicine, specifically, in the intricacies and importance of the physician-patient relationship. And this is what led me to be Decidedly DO.

This is not to say that the MD route doesn’t produce physicians who are just as concerned with creating and maintaining a relationship with their patients (in fact, I also applied to and received interview invitations from MD colleges); I was just drawn in by the DO philosophy — its principle that the relationship between physician and patient should be a partnership — and supremely intrigued by the notion of “unlocking” the body’s innate healing capacity. After all, humans existed for millennia without the aid of modern pharmaceutical innovations, and while these are incredibly helpful and have pushed the field of medicine to heights previously unknown, I do believe that they shouldn’t necessarily be the first resort in a given treatment plan, and the DO training path would allow me to learn additional skills that I could employ as alternative first resorts (such as OMM).

So, that is the long and round-about path that has led me to my decision to pursue a DO 🙂 I have tried to keep this post on the shorter side, but if you have any questions or want any additional details on why I made some of the choices I made, how I decided “now is the time to apply,” etc., feel free to reach out in the comments below or send me a message through the Contact page!

Thanks for reading!

Featured

Hello, is this thing on?

decidedlyDOlogo2Hello friend, welcome to the Decidedly DO blog!

I’ve started this blog as a way to keep track of information I have used in my journey to and through medical school, and even after. I’ve divided the site into different sections — here is a quick run-down of two specific ones:

Helpful Resources – this section will contain links to existing sites and tips that I have found helpful over the years. Of course, much of this section is made possible through effort made by others, so wherever possible, I have included direct links and reference information for the content originators.

Narratives – this section will contain pieces of a more personal nature — work, study, and life experiences.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to use the Comments sections of each post or reach out to me through the Contact page! I am always on the search for more useful resources, so if there are any that you’ve found helpful, feel free to send them over my way and I’ll add them to the list!

Thanks for stopping by!