The Expensive Process of Med School Application

Discouraged by her parents, my oldest didn’t consider a career in medicine until after  graduating from college with a BFA in Art History. After taking an Americorps position and feeling lost at sea, she took a battery of aptitude tests. Interestingly enough the tests pointed her to a career in medicine, specifically as a physician or other treating provider. Growing up and watching her parents struggle through the difficulties of primary care, she certainly knew what she was getting into but somehow she must have seen the rewards we shared under the frustration.

So back she went to college, obtaining a 3.8 Science GPA. She took the MCAT, the dreaded test all pre-med students must do well on in order to be considered for medical school in the US, and made a decent if not stellar score. Then she began the application process.

Applying to medical school was an expensive and somewhat demoralizing undertaking. First she paid to send all the necessary materials-scores, transcripts, letters of reference, etc.-to each school through an organization called AMCAS. Then medical schools invited her to submit a secondary application.  At first she thought she’d made it through some sort of vetting process. Each school had a different set of requirements usually involving essay questions. Quickly she learned that they were all “interested” in her, well in her money. Amazingly paying $50-$150 per secondary application doesn’t guarantee even a polite rejection email. Most students apply to about 20 schools. That’s a lot of cash, considering that only about nine percent of all applicants are actually admitted[1].

As a bystander I have to wonder – is there anyone in the medical education community at least a little ashamed that so many of the hopeful individuals that apply to your “august” bodies are not granted even that tiny courtesy?

As a side note, she did get accepted. And despite all the frustrations I’ve been through and the issues that face her once she gets into practice, I’m proud of and happy for her. 


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