Redhead in Scrubs: Perspective

In absolutely no way is anything in this series to be taken as advice.  I am not an expert in how to get accepted to medical school – I’ve been rejected exponentially more than I’ve been accepted.  If there was a formula to get in, I’d share it – but there isn’t.  Everyone who is accepted gets to that point a different way.


Waiting is the worst part.  Waiting for interviews is easy – you don’t know if or when they’re coming.  Waiting for decisions seems impossible.

After my last interview, we were all told to expect news in 2-3 weeks.  Then, there were two major ice storms and the mail got all discombobulated – and that was even IF the admission committee had met as scheduled.  Friday was four weeks from the interview, and for the first time, a few people who leaved in the Southeast had heard news.  They were all holding status – on the wait list, essentially.  As soon as I found that out, I started preparing myself for the same news.

On Saturday, the news came – holding.  I was disappointed.  Matt was disappointed.  I had felt good about the interview and I was really hoping for an acceptance.  Now, I have one acceptance and I’m on three wait lists – it seems like the waiting will never end!  I know that I’m lucky to have that acceptance, but that’s hard to remember when I keep not getting the news I want.

But then, a funny thing happened.  I told my mom the news, and her first response was “Congratulations!”  I thought it was striking how different her reaction was to mine.  It wasn’t just more positive or optimistic, it was probably more realistic.  Out of everyone who applies to medical school in any given year, about 5% will ultimately be accepted.  Roughly 1/4-1/3 of the people on each of the wait lists that I’m on will ultimately get into the class.  That’s not too shabby.

Am I still disappointed?  Yes.  But it’s not bad news – and in a process with much more bad news than good, that’s nothing to sneer at.

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Redhead in Scrubs: Surprises

In absolutely no way is anything in this series to be taken as advice.  I am not an expert in how to get accepted to medical school – I’ve been rejected exponentially more than I’ve been accepted.  If there was a formula to get in, I’d share it – but there isn’t.  Everyone who is accepted gets to that point a different way.


Until this year, I’ve gotten one interview each year, and always at the University of Tennessee.  Things have been different this year.  It’s funny how it’s become ingrained in me that I get one interview per year, and anything beyond that is a shock.

In July, I got my interview invitation for LECOM – Seton Hill.  I was napping after a graveyard shift at the time, and I thought (actually, legitimately believed) that it was a prank at first.  I’d never even heard of getting an interview invitation so early.

I had already been accepted to LECOM for about a week when I got the second interview invitation, for COMP-Northwest.  Matt and I were on our way out to dinner, and I was shocked.  I had thought that it was over for the year.  It really hadn’t ever occurred to me that I’d get more than one interview for the year, especially since I’d already gotten in.  Not only did I think I was finished, I was comfortable with that.

This year’s University of Tennessee interview was more of a surprise than usual.  UTHSC tends to send out their invitations at strange hours – my first came at 8:45 pm, my second at 5:30, and this year’s at 9:15 on a Friday night.  The really shocking part about that one was that it only gave me three days’ notice.  Even though the invitation came weeks after COMP-NW’s, the interview was over a week before it.

There is (in my head, anyway) a ‘sweet spot’ for interviews from September through January.  Anything before that seems unusual, and anything after it feels like interviewing for the wait list.  That being said, Osteopathic schools work on a slightly different timetable than Allopathic schools.  But anyway, my point is that yet again, I was pretty sure that I was finished with interviews. Shows what I know.

Yesterday at work, I checked my email only to find my fourth interview invitation of the year – for the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Georgia Campus.  I had to read it three times before it sunk in.  So, with the thought process that options are always nice things to have – wish me luck!

Redhead in Scrubs: The Story So Far, Part 2

In absolutely no way is anything in this series to be taken as advice.  I am not an expert in how to get accepted to medical school – I’ve been rejected exponentially more than I’ve been accepted.  If there was a formula to get in, I’d share it – but there isn’t.  Everyone who is accepted gets to that point a different way.


In May 2011, Matt and I moved to Memphis.  The same day that we arrived was the only time we’ve actually seen a tornado – the sirens started going off and we could see the cyclone to the west.  It was quite a welcome.

I started taking my medical school prerequisites in June.  There was a 2-course difference between taking just the prerequisites and getting my Bachelor’s in Biology, so I had decided to go ahead and get the second degree.  It would take 2 years of huge courseloads.  I also started working 20 hours per week in retail, only a few minutes drive from school.  I volunteered for a few months, 4 hours a week, in an intensive care unit in the area.

My grades were great at first and good after that – they were certainly never bad, but good for medical school is different than good for everything else.  That’s one thing that I would change if I could do it over, but I honestly don’t know how I could have put forth more effort than I did.  The challenge was that I had never truly learned to study.  I hadn’t needed to in high school, and as an English major, I didn’t study so much as review.  I had to learn from scratch – what had worked for me in the past simply wasn’t cutting it in advanced science courses.

In August 2011,  Matt and I got engaged and started planning our wedding.  We moved out of our apartment and into a beautiful house in January 2012, and we adopted a black lab mix (Stella the Skittish) in April.  Classes and work went on as they had been.

That summer, I took five weeks off from work and strapped myself to my desk to study for the MCAT.  This was the one hurdle that I thought would be a ‘make it or break it’ moment.  I took every practice test I could get my hands on and studied between 6 and 12 hours a day (while taking Bio-Organic Chemistry, I might add).  It was like training for a marathon – I had a whole schedule of how I would taper down my studying just before the test.  I remember laying in bed the night before, singing to myself under my breath (“House at Pooh Corner”), trying to get to sleep.

I couldn’t have asked for a better test day.  I’ve heard horror stories, but everything went smoothly for me.  Matt and I went out to celebrate that night, and started waiting for scores to come back.  A few weeks later, they did; I was very happy with mine, although, being a perfectionist, I would have liked it to be higher.

That fall, I applied to medical school for the first time.  We applied in October, which was a huge mistake in retrospect.  The thing about this process is that unless you’ve been through it recently or know someone who has, you’re in the dark.  You don’t know what’s important and what isn’t.  After the last few years, I’ve decided that applying early is probably the most important thing.  Applicant decisions are made on a rolling basis – the earlier an application is in, the better chance of acceptance.  We waited.  And waited.  Rejection letters started showing up in the mailbox.

Matt and I got married in January 2013, and we were still practically holding our breaths for news.  Until this past autumn, we both look back on our honeymoon as the one time in the past four years that we haven’t been worrying obsessively about my medical school future.

In February 2013, I had my one interview of that application cycle – at the University of Tennessee.  My immediate reaction was to cry in my car afterward, so when I got my rejection letter in March, I wasn’t shocked.  They were kind enough to provide some feedback, and recommended that I expand my clinical experience.  I got a job as a scribe in the Emergency Room at a Level 1 Trauma Center in Memphis, I graduated Cum Laude with my Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, and we got ready to apply all over again.

Redhead in Scrubs: The Story So Far, Part 1

In absolutely no way is anything in this series to be taken as advice.  I am not an expert in how to get accepted to medical school – I’ve been rejected exponentially more than I’ve been accepted.  If there was a formula to get in, I’d share it – but there isn’t.  Everyone who is accepted gets to that point a different way.


Since you presumably aren’t a member of an admissions committee (and even if you are, you probably don’t know which of your thousands of applicants I am), I’ll actually tell you the truth.  I decided out of the blue that I wanted to be a doctor.  I don’t think that makes me any less dedicated than anyone else, but when you do this, you’re expected to have a story.  My story comes from what I presume was my thought process, although I don’t actually remember it happen as explicitly as I’d tell you during an interview.  Anyway, I haven’t wavered even for a moment, which I think is more than a lot of the “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in diapers” crowd could tell you.

Sometime in the summer of 2010, I was riding down the road in Baton Rouge with my boyfriend (now husband).  We were brainstorming career paths, since I was thoroughly disillusioned with teaching and less than optimistic about my prospects as an English Major during the recession.  We were passing a coffee shop when I turned in my seat and said, with all the conviction of a girl who had no idea what she was getting into, “I should be a doctor.”  That night, we bought my first MCAT study materials.

I told my parents about my crazy plan soon after that (they were shockingly calm and supportive in the face of this abrupt decision), and I started working out the details.  I started studying and got accepted to LSU to complete my (previously neglected) undergraduate science coursework.  I got a volunteer position at a little hospital not too far from where I was living with my parents – I volunteered for two days a week on the Surgery Unit and one day a week in the Intermediate Care Nursery (a step-down unit from the NICU).  I never did go to LSU; my best-laid plans were delayed for a semester when M (the boyfriend) got a job in Memphis and asked if I would come with him – I’ll pick up there next time.

In the beginning, I heard the same things over and over again.  It’s going to be hard.  I know so-and-so who didn’t get in after applying three times.  Before I started, I wouldn’t have thought that people could say those things and still be supportive, but the amount of support that I got from my coworkers, friends, family, and future in-laws was (and is) staggering.  If anyone doubted me, they kept it very well hidden.