Transferring medical schools

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by merlin, Jun 27, 2002.

  1. merlin

    merlin Senior Member

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    I am curious about the prospects of transferring medical schools if in fact the school that I am signed up to go to turns out to be not for me. Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject? Or is it better to hold off and try to get into the school that you really want to go to instead of thinking about the possibility of transferring? Thanks.
     
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  3. Mystique

    Mystique The Procrastinator

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    From what I've heard, transfers are rare. Sure, most schools may have a spot or two open up b/c someone decided that med school wasn't for him/her, but I've only heard of people transferring due to "special" circumstances such as family illness, marriage, etc. If you don't mind sharing, what are your concerns regarding school X? I want to provide you w/ my $0.02, but I don't know enough about your situation. :)
     
  4. Trek

    Trek Grand Uranium Member

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    For once, Ms. T is right- it's exceedingly difficult and rare. Best not to plan to transfer when/if you're making a decision. --Trek
     
  5. Doctora Foxy

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    merlin, you're finally back! How was your trip? :D
     
  6. Doctor Octagonecologyst

    Doctor Octagonecologyst Junior Member

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    Transferring is definitely not something you can plan on, so it's never a good idea to apply to any school that you know you would not be happy at. You should be able to find out enough information during interviews to see if you would really want to go to each school. Remember, medical school education in the U.S. is pretty much standardized, so you're not likely to encounter any nasty surprises once you enroll.
     
  7. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Ditto to the above post. Do not apply to a school that you *know* you would not like. Apply only to schools that if *only* accepted there you would go and be happy, duh.
     
  8. merlin

    merlin Senior Member

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    Hey Doctora Foxy, I was just searching the archives and thought I would thank you for that nice welcome back. Yeah my trip was great. I was only supposed to be in Costa Rica for two months and instead I stayed five months while touring all the countries in Central America :cool: In five months I took a bus from Panama through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico up to Tijuana. How goes it here in the land of SDN?

    Also, for all those that responded here; yeah it does sound dumb to apply to a school you wouldn't want to go to doesn't it. But how about entertaining the idea that it could happen . I mean, it does happen. Anyone know someone who has gone through that process and been sucessful why? Cheers :cool:
     
  9. Doctora Foxy

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    OMG I am so jealous! The land of SDN doesn't compare! :laugh:

    well, welcome back! :)
     
  10. lilycat

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    Merlin -- You're right, it definitely does happen that people end up at a school they are unhappy with. It is a little overly simplistic to just say "don't apply to a school you would be unhappy attending," because you might not know that until you are pretty far along in the process, ie, after interviewing or a 2nd look weekend, or even more likely, not until after actually starting classes at the school.

    I know of a couple people who have transferred medical schools, but as all of the previous posters mentioned, transfer students tend to be the exception and not the rule. It is much, much, much more difficult than transferring in college. First off, not all medical schools will even consider transfer applicants, regardless of whether or not there is space in the class. For instance, UCSF, UCSD, UCLA, and Michigan do not accept transfer students, period. There are lots of other schools that don't accept transfers either, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. Secondly, of the schools that DO accept transfer students, most of them only do so with the caveat that the transfer applicant must have a significant/compelling reason to transfer schools. "Acceptable" reasons often include having a fiance or spouse who is a student, resident, or faculty member at that school or having a serious family situation (ie, terminally ill family member) and needing to be at a school closer to family, etc. If you are just generally unhappy with your current school, or really desire a different location, cheaper tuition or something along those lines, many schools will not consider that to be a compelling reason to transfer. There are a handful of schools that may consider transfer students for pretty much any reason, but they are definitely in the minority, and when you think that on average, each of those schools may only have 2-5 openings per class, the competition for those spots is extremely competitive. The third and final thing to consider is that most schools that do accept transfers only accept them for entrance into the third year.

    My best advice to you would be to definitely NOT count on transferring schools -- it is far from a guarantee, and you still would most likely have to get through 2 years at your current school anyways. From everything I've heard from my upperclassmen friends and those in residency, the clinical years are almost always a vast improvement over the basic science years. The things that you may have really disliked initially about the school kind of fade into the background (stuff like bad lecturers, gossipy or annoying classmates, lame administration, etc.) -- it's still there, but less obvious and pressing. My feeling is that it is probably best to go into med school in the fall with the attitude that you're going to make the best of the school, even if it isn't your ideal.

    Of course, the other option would be to withdraw from your current school and reapply. But, again, there are no guarantees and you may end up still not being accepted to your top-choice schools, and also not accepted by your current school the second time around. It is a big gamble, but only you can decide if it's worth it.
     
  11. Bikini Princess

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    Lol, this is the same thing some friends at Jefferson told me.

    Transfers are rare; but if you want to try out other schools, you can at least travel to other schools for your elective clerkships. For example, if you want to be an opthmalogist and your school has a poor, nonexistent, or malignant opthamology program, you'll be able to select any school in the country, contigent upon that school's approval.

    It's true many students end up wishing they'd gone elsewhere, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Where you choose to do your post-graduate training is more important. :)
     
  12. Trek

    Trek Grand Uranium Member

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    Yeah man, who cares about that 1461 miserable days you have to spend in the place you despise, eh ;) school shouldn't be a means to an end, it should (i hope) be a little enjoyable. --Trek
     
  13. merlin

    merlin Senior Member

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    Any more ideas? Not too popular a subject eh? Thanks much for all that info Lilycat. Much appreciated, but what about the student that is just generally displeased with the school? (Myself not at all included cause I haven't even started school yet). Cheers.
     
  14. doctorivy

    doctorivy Junior Member

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    I would strongly suggest that you do not withdraw from a school just to get into a better one next year. On your application you are required to report if you have ever been accepted to medical school before. Most schools will be very hesitant to accept an applicant who turned down all offers the previous year. I heard of a student (just a rumor) who got into a few schools, turned them all down, and didn't get into any the next year.
     
  15. none

    none 1K Member

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    Definitely don't drop out and reapply! That'll have MUCH worse odds than even the impossibility of transferring.
     
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  17. lilycat

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    It might help to know a little more of the specifics of your situation (ie, what schools you are talking about, where you are currently planning on attending, etc.). If you feel uncomfortable discussing it further publicly, perhaps you can PM me and I can try to give you advice more specific to your situation or your school. Since you haven't started school yet, I'm curious what makes you already think that you'll dislike it and why you may need to transfer. I'm afraid that if you go into school with that attitude, it may unfairly negatively color your impressions throughout the first semester, if not the entire first year.

    I did meet one applicant this year who had been accepted to medical school a couple of years ago, matriculated, hated it, dropped out (as opposed to "stopping out") and is now reapplying. He said that it has really been an uphill struggle because all of the med schools seem to share the opinion that it is a privilege in and of itself just to be accepted to medical school in the first place. Thus, they tend to be wary of people who have been accepted and don't take it. Given, this is only one person's experience, and I think most of the "advice" you will receive on this subject, especially on these boards, is pretty anecdotal. However, it does make you strongly wonder if it is a gamble worth taking.

    In all honesty, the only transfer students that I actually know all had "valid" reasons for transferring (usually because of their spouse). I know a couple of students who are somewhat unhappy with their medical schools but they've basically taken the attitude of just sucking it up and making the best of things while they are there. I have one good friend who is a 4th year now and never really liked his school from the start -- didn't feel like he fit in with most of the students, didn't make a lot of close friends in his class, didn't like the location or a lot of the profs, etc. A couple of things saved him -- 1) his girlfriend lived with him for the first 2 years so that gave him a social outlet outside of school; 2) He said that things really improved once he started his clinical rotations -- he really enjoyed the freedom of it, and he started hanging out with a lot of the residents and fellows from his rotations, which turned out to be people he felt he had more in common with than this fellow classmates.

    As for general unhappiness at med school, I think it's more common than people imagine. The image that gets conveyed on interview days and weekends tends to be a little more perky at many schools than the actual day-in, day-out reality. That's not to say that all medical students are miserable -- far from it. But, students will sugar-coat some of the bad stuff or their displeasure with aspects of the school for the benefit of interviewees. In talking with med students at lots of other schools (mostly friends from high school and undergrad and a few friends from this site as well), those that get pretty unhappy with med school or frustrated with it, tend to be unhappy or frustrated for many of the same reasons. What I'm trying to say is that med schools really are not that fundamentally different from one another. Essentially, you have a small group of high-achieving, type A students all together several hours of a day. At every school there are cliques, gunners, slackers, unresponsive administrators, lame professors, great professors, mean attendings, great attendings, etc. Sure, each school has its own unique personality, but I think there are more constants to all the med schools than there are differences. You might think that transferring will be the solution to all your problems, but depending on what your issues with the school are, things may not change or improve that drastically.

    Also keep in mind that for most people, the first two years are the most distasteful of medical school. Most people I've talked to say that the first year is by far the worst, and that it progressively gets better from there.

    Right now, my best advice would be to try and give your school a fair chance -- you may end up being pleasantly surprised. I believe the AAMC website has a link to all the schools in the country that accept transfers, and from there you can access each school's specific transfer policy if that is something you still wish to pursue. .

    Also, as bikini princess mentioned, many schools allow you to do up to 3 months of rotations during your clinical years at other schools. Plus, many schools structure their 4th year schedules so that most of the spring is free. Hopefully little things like that will help you get through if transferring doesn't work out.
     

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