Medical So, you didn’t get a med school acceptance last year – what’s next?


Dr. Stephen Workman
2+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2017
Roanoke, VA
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  1. Pre-health Advisor
Only about 40% of first-time applicants get into U.S. M.D. medical schools each year. For applicants who do not receive an acceptance, there are usually three major reasons:
1. Their academic record and/or MCAT scores are lower than the medical school’s standards.
2. Their medical/clinical volunteer and campus/community volunteer experiences are not sufficient for what the school is seeking.
3. Their academic, MCAT, and volunteer experiences are solid, but they “missed their shot” by applying to only highly competitive medical schools.

Should you immediately re-apply again this year? It’s complicated – call me before you decide.

Take some time to evaluate your goals and your application’s competitiveness. An acceptance to medical school is just the first of many hurdles to a successful medical career. It is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to be as well prepared as possible when you start medical school. Most medical school students say that it is the toughest educational program that they have ever experienced. First there are four years of medical school. Then there is a residency of three to five years, often followed by additional fellowship training. Your USMLE Step 1 test score taken at the end of your second year of medical school will be a key factor in gaining the residency program of your choice. Then there is the cost of medical school. The AAMC estimates that the current education debt for medical school students runs >$180,000. Make sure that becoming a physician is your dream, and NOT someone else’s dream for you!

To compare your qualifications versus the national medical school acceptance rates, check out the AAMC Facts Table A-23
With the transition to the new MCAT15, this year’s table A-23 shows 2017-18 and 2018-19 matriculation year data for applicants taking the new exam -- You’ll note that even with a 510 MCAT and a 3.5 GPA, only 52% of that group was accepted for those two years.

Next, we can discuss the new AAMC online Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) to learn more about each medical school or program you are interesting in attending. The MSAR cost is $28 for a one-year subscription.
Buying and Using the Medical School Admission Requirements™ FAQ
Their revised presentation format now shows: Lower 10%/Lower25%/Median/Upper75%/Upper 90% for both MCAT 15 scores and GPAs under the school’s “Acceptance Data” section.

After researching the medical schools you are most interested in attending, how do you measure up?

If your GPA is too low: Is a post-bac or master’s program a good idea? Which ones should you look at?
If your MCAT is too low: Should you retake the MCAT? How do you improve your scores?
If you need more volunteer experiences:
Medical/Clinical: Physician Shadowing/Free Clinic Volunteering/EMT work/Scribing – Which ones are best?
Campus/Community: Local charities and community organizations – Which to choose? How much time?
Research: Fifty-two of the current 147 M.D. medical schools in the U.S. list research as required in their curriculum, based on their MSAR information, and another 30 schools show research as optional. If you haven’t had much research experience, you might want to focus your application on medical schools that don’t require research.
Essays and letters of recommendation: What should you write about? Who should write your recommendations? How many do you need?
Holistic review: Do you have any holistic review factors such as: Race/Ethnicity/Socio-Economic Disadvantage? Did you highlight them correctly in your AMCAS application?
AAMC GSA’s Core Personal Competencies: Have you ensured that your completed medical school application addresses most of the 15 Core Personal Competencies as developed by the AAMC’s Group on Student Affairs (GSA)?

There are many questions to consider. I can help guide you through the process.

If you’ve done your online search homework, you’ll see that there are at least two dozen private firms and individuals that advertise that they do medical school advising and consulting. Some have been around for awhile, others are new. You’ll also note that many charge rates from $200-$800/per hour for their advice. I think it is already too expensive to apply to medical school -- see the “The Cost of Applying” section on my website -- so I try to keep my rates as low as I can, averaging about $125/hour. Very few of the existing medical school advising services have had my recent experience of running a medical school admissions office and understanding all the behind-the-scenes application reviews that go on BEFORE an application package makes it to the admissions committee. With my experience, we can “cut to the chase.” I won’t urge you to sign up for additional services that I don’t think you need.

I’m really doing this as a service to the thousands of medical school applicants whose records I have reviewed that have an “average” application (average GPAs, average MCAT scores, and average experiences). They would do well in medical school, but they rarely get an acceptance offer. They could use my personalized advice to help turn their average application into a “Must Select” application.

So, should you re-apply immediately, or take some time to strengthen your application? There is no single “right answer” for all applicants. Every applicant has their own mix of strengths and weaknesses, personal circumstances, geographic preferences, and long-term goals. Together, we can develop a plan of actions and strategies that will get your application noticed and result in a medical school acceptance.

If you think you could use a guide to help you navigate through the complicated medical school application process, please check out my website, MD and DO medical school admissions advising and consulting. and send me an email at [email protected] or call me at (321) 417-2022 to get started.

Together, we can help make your application as strong as possible!

Stephen Workman, Ph.D.
MD and DO medical school admissions advising and consulting.
[email protected]
(321) 417-2022
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