My first med school rejection letter came to my parents’ house in February, while I was on vacation. I still haven’t read or seen it, but I imagine it’s about as short and clipped as my dad’s e-mail to me about it, which went rougly as follows:

“Got a letter from ____ today, thin. Opened it, since you’ve seemed okay w/us opening similar correspondences in the past. It was a rejection — their loss.”

I’d imagine I’d feel something quite different if I’d opened the letter myself. I’m sure it had words like “regrettable,” “unfortunate,” and “many fine candidates.”

But with the finality of my dad’s last two words to me, “their loss,” I don’t care in the least what that rejection letter actually says.

I hear it’s 20/20.

Yesterday I discovered something that quite possibly will make the name of this website a lot less appropriate. But, I’ll have to back up and describe some history first.

So with the second and third entries on this site I’ve been trying to kind of paint the picture of why I decided to apply, and presumably go, to medical school. If you’ve read anything on this website you already know, unlike the typical pre-med student, I’ve never exactly been certain about my decisions, though I did end up applying last fall in 2005. That would be for entry in 2006 — you apply about a year ahead of time.

For reasons a little too complicated to describe right now, I’ve been debating whether or not to actually enroll in 2006. A few of the ideas floating around in my mind were to defer enrollment for an extra year, or to just say “no” to anyone who for some reason accepted me, and re-apply for enrollment in 2007. Last fall I ended up applying to schools very hastily, and I basically picked random ones; I definitely didn’t apply to everywhere that I would’ve if I’d started earlier and put more effort in.

So yesterday, to figure out if these options were viable or not, I talked to a counselor at the pre-med office at my undergraduate school. (They still offer services to alumni, so I’d scheduled a phone appointment.) I’d talked to this guy before. He’s actually the head of the office, he’s very competent, he will always let you know just how long he’s been doing his job (over 15 years), and he’s extremely honest but edges on being harsh about it. I think I’ve mentioned my over-sensitivity to … well, everything, so you can imagine that I was really looking forward to our conversation.

I had forty-five minutes worth of his time scheduled, so I went into a conference room at my office and called him.

[vague pleasantries for about thirty seconds]

Me: I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at my file ..?

Counselor: What?

Me: I think I already have a file with your office, because I actually applied last year.

C: Oh, yeah, I have it here. I see that you’ve been accepted to [Relatively Okay School].

Me: Right. But, well, I’m not completely sure about where I want to be next year, and if I applied to all the schools I wanted to. So I was thinking about trying to re-apply in June for 2007, and was wondering if people ever did that and what you thought about that option.

C: You want my honest opinion?

Me: [remembering from our last interaction about a year ago that this does not bode well] Er, yes.

C: I don’t think it’s a good idea, [my full name, even though I’d introduced myself with my nickname. I hate when people call me by my full name. It’s just so obvious they weren’t paying attention during the introduction and are just reading from my file. … I digress]. I’ve seen people do it before, and in my fifteen-plus years at my job, it’s never worked out well.

Me: Oh … really?

C: Yes. Medical schools receive a list from AAMC telling them where their applicants have been accepted before, so if you applied next year, they’d see you were accepted at [Relatively Okay School]. So the thing is, if you’ve already been accepted somewhere and you say no and re-apply, medical schools will think you’re being a name snob, and no one will want to talk to you. The school that’s already accepted you will do the exact same thing, and then you’ll be stuck.

Me: Oh, I had no idea.

C: You can always give it a shot, but in my fifteen-plus years of experience, it’s never gone well for anyone who’s done it.

Me: Okay, I’m sure you’re right, I just had no idea. Thanks.

C: No problem, [my full name].

The whole conversation took about five minutes, leaving me to wonder what he did for those extra forty …

Anyway, of course I believe him. He is my pre-med career counselor for a reason, after all. But I had no idea that medical schools were like the freaking mafia or something. Nor did I even know that my pre-med office would know where I got accepted. It’s like there’s some information chain surrounding me and I have no idea how it works, all I know is the AAMC is at the center of it all.

If I had known that applying and being accepted at any school would preclude me from ever applying to medical school again (essentially, it would seem), I probably would’ve picked my schools a lot more carefully back in the fall. Freaking hindsight.

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