So you want to be a doctor but didn’t get into medical school…now what?

Ever since you were tiny, you were the smart student and told anyone who asked that you wanted to be a doctor. It was nice to have an answer to that pesky question posed by the adults in your life who think you should have a life plan. And an answer like “I’m going to be a doctor” always won you high praise, proud smiles, slaps on the back. It was irresistible.

So, what are you going to do now? You’re almost finished with your undergraduate degree in an area of science that likely doesn’t pay well for a four-year degree and you didn’t get into medical school. Your grades weren’t all As or your MCAT was deficient. Either way, you’re going to have to eat some crow soon. I’d like to share various flavors of advice, some serious, some to make you laugh at yourself, that will show you new paths and give you a back-up answer for when Uncle Henry and grandmamma corner you alone at the Super Bowl party.

Option 1: Take no responsibility and blame everyone else.

Say “My advisor never told me I had to get all As to get into medical school.”

Say “My professors all taught the courses way too hard. They treated us like we were in graduate school.”

Say “I had a horrible professor (or high school teacher or middle school teacher or preschool teacher). That’s why I scored low on the MCAT.

Say “I never even studied and I got all Cs. If I knew I needed all As, if somebody had told me, I could have gotten them.”

Reconsider. Look at yourself. You’re not in high school anymore. Man up. Take one on the chin.

Option 2: Deny you ever wanted to be a doctor anyway.

Say “I didn’t even apply because I decided medical school wasn’t for me after all.”

Reflect further. Even if this is true, you are going to have to elaborate, defend yourself, explain what happened/went wrong. Woman up. Take one on the chin. Think this through. Soon.

Option 3: Re-evaluate why you ever wanted to go to medical school anyway and look for the best alternative path for YOU.

Which is your truth?

You only wanted to be called ‘doctor.’  This one is easy–go to graduate school in your field of science. Not enough English-speaking Americans apply for these PAID spots and they are given to foreigners. American universities are looking for you and will pay you to do research while you earn your PhD. Compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt you would pile up in medical school, the $25K per year stipend is appealing.

You really wanted to help patients. Also easy–apply to be a physician assistant, registered nurse, midwife, physical therapist.

You wanted to be the boss of the office. Even easier–get your MBA and unlock the doors to being the boss anywhere you like.

You love science or math. Consider a master’s degree in education. Be a teacher or administrator. Spread the love for your subject.

There are so many alternative paths for students who were “pre-professional” during their undergraduate years and were not accepted to medical school. Don’t give up. Keep your chin up and take a look around at all of the doors that are still wide open, waiting for you.


Your Advisor


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