I can’t honestly say that my hopes and dreams have always been to be a doctor. What I can say is that I have put my heart and soul into the dream that I will someday be a doctor, once I had decided this was were I wanted my life to go. I won’t even try count the overnighters I have pulled, or the gallons of coffee drank, because right now, my dreams are becoming a reality.
I found out just over a month ago I was accepted to medical school. Let me rephrase. One month ago, I was accepted to my top pick medical school. I can honestly say that it didn’t register as fact until I went to the pre-orientation session the college offered in order to get to know my fellow classmates. I fully expected to show up and my name not be on the list or there not be a name tag for me to wear. When I saw my name tag, my picture on the class listing, it finally registered. I, Kristin, am going to be a doctor, just like I had planned. Down to the school and everything.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the process, let me summarize. 1. Excel in high school and get accepted to an upstanding undergraduate college. 2. Obtain primarily As, with an acceptable occasional B, on the undergraduate transcript with a majority of classes being upper level science classes. Volunteer weekly. Work, preferably tutoring sciences or in a hospital, throughout college. Participate in extracurriculars. Do undergraduate research, preferably in a top research institution (which I will add takes an application process all in itself), in unlikely hopes that a published paper including your name will result. Maintain sanity. Shadow physicians, as many as are willing and as frequently as the schedule allows. 3. Study for the MCAT, the test that practically determines a person’s medical school acceptance. Studying should be about eight hours per day for the three months leading up to the test. Pay for the $235 test that would rather not be taken. Spend five hours in a testing center with limited, scheduled breaks. Score as high as possible on the test, wait 90 days, say a prayer, and look at the score. 4. Sort through the list of all medical schools, finding the ones that coincide with interests and statistics being sought out. Start filling out primary applications to all the colleges that are on the potential list. Take out a personal loan, as this is not a cheap process. This initial process easily takes up $1000 or more if applying to more than a few schools. Write a personal statement regarding choosing to be a doctor. Revise statement, and proofread. Revise again. Proofread at least four more times, just in case. Ask at least three people (doctors, lab mentors, or professors) to write strong letters of recommendation. Remind them constantly of deadlines without seeming rude. Pay for transcripts to be sent. 5. Cross fingers, as many as possible, that e-mails stating the all of colleges would like a secondary application. Fill out all these supplemental applications as soon as possible, because time is critical. The earlier the application is done, the higher the chance of acceptance. Pay a second fee to submit these applications. 6. Wait as patiently as possible to hear that the colleges you completed supplemental applications for are offering an interview. Either that, or rejection letters start arriving. 7. Buy formal business attire for the interview. Buy plane tickets to the city the interview is in. Buy a hotel room. Buy a portfolio folder, so a resume, published scientific papers, poster presentations, and business cards are accessible and professional appearing. 8. Rock the socks of the interviewers with wit and charm, all while maintaining professionalism and compassion. (This includes not letting nerves overwhelm the situation.) Expect hard, random questions. 9. Once again, wait to hear if you are rejected, accepted, or placed on a wait list. 10a. Assuming acceptance to more than one school, start deciding which school best suits what medical school being sought after. This likely means more plane tickets, hotel rooms, business attire, school tours, and meet the faculty opportunities. 10b. Assuming all rejection letters, start back at numbers 2.5-4, depending on the particular application weakness, and start all over next year. Don’t feel bad. (Most people I know don’t get in on the first try.) Repeat until: 11. Ta Da! Acceptance into the medical school of your choice. Or any medical school at all, for that matter.
Now you may see why it took me a while to realize the accomplishment this was, acceptance on the first round despite average statistics. When you have been striving towards a goal for so long, then you finally meet it, it just seems like the reasonable question is, “Now what?” So, now what? It is now that I have to stop playing pretend. I have to become the big girl that I have been putting off for so long. I have to incorporate professionalism into my daily life; I have to represent being a doctor at all times. I have to up my game and study all day, every day for the next eight years or so. More or less. I have to learn to become a teacher at the same time I am being taught. I have to maintain my empathy, compassion, and enthusiasm to help others. I have to do all of this, just to follow my dreams. What does it take to follow your dream?