Reflections on the Medical School Admission Process

“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” – Geoffrey Chaucer

“We of the craft are all crazy.” – Lord Byron

Neither Chaucer nor Byron were referring explicitly to physicians when they first imparted these sentiments.

Nonetheless, for those in the medical field, the words perhaps ring most true. Craziest of all are those who have yet to actually enter it and yearn so desperately for an offer of admission to medical school.

In a piece I published three years ago entitled The Ascent, I touched on my experiences as a pre-medical student.

At the time, I had yet to sit for the MCAT and waxed poetically about the role of physicians in society,

No other position in human society, not even that of the President, holds such power to instantaneously change human life.

To be sure, I still hold the medical profession as one of the most fulfilling in modern human society. Creating a lasting impact in others’ lives is surely one of the best uses of our fleeting time on this planet.

But, placing doctors on a pedestal is to assign them almost divine qualities. In my experience, the egos of certain physicians are large enough already.

In the course of their careers, some doctors lose sight of the principles of beneficence and service that might have first led them to pursue medicine. For others, those values remain as a True North, pointing their moral compasses towards a life of compassion and bettering their fellow man. 

I concluded the piece by placing my near-endless academic toil in perspective:

every hour spent holed up in the library is given new purpose. Every line of text to read or biological process to memorize forms another leg in the bridge that spans the chasm between a life of meager influence and one of unparalleled impact and service.

In the last month, more legs in the bridge were laid down: I received acceptances to medical school. Three, at the time of writing.

The notification from one medical school in particular came in the form of a video message rendered as a superhero-esque trailer. Though slightly mawkish, the acceptance was met with a mixture of emotion: ebullience, excitement, and, perhaps most of all, equanimity.

The last few years, those in and out of college, introduced a new meaning to the word “stress.” I glimpsed its captivating power to fuel late-night study sessions and give rise to unerring concentration to devour abstract concepts.

That constant stimulus, too, brought about periods of severe illness. Nearing the end of my junior year, I was saddled with an upper respiratory infection, combined with bronchitis and strep throat. I didn’t leave my bed for a week. 

Stress does a body poorly.

Doubtless stress has also shaved years from my life, as well as hairs from my progressively receding hairline. 

In hindsight, the industry that defined my experience in college was worth every second. That toil and suffering laid the groundwork for the bridge that increasingly spans the aforementioned chasm.

While I have yet to formally conclude the admissions process, the possibility of attending medical school somewhere brings me a great deal of equanimity.

I gave thought to preparing additional blog posts that provide actionable advice on the admissions process. A quick Google search, however, finds that much electronic ink has already been spilled on these topics.

In coming weeks, I hope to instead resume a more consistent practice of writing pieces on health care, the economy, and philosophy. 

Until then, live long and prosper.

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