Waiting…

This blog entry post is for towards applicants who find the process of waiting for medical school outcomes stressful. I hope you find the following reflection and advice helpful in some ways.

How tough it is to wait: Rather than a step in your process, prolonged waiting is a reality of applying to medical school. Its tenuous experience was one of the most surprising parts of the application cycle for me. The lulls between submitting secondaries and interviewing and getting in (or rejected) can be emotionally-taxing, regardless of how long they were. As you wait, perhaps, you are or will be feeling anxious or tense as you imagine the outcome of the process; you may not get what you want or what you get might not be as great as you hoped. In all likelihood, you may be feeling stressed by expectation: what you expect of yourself or what you think others expect of you. Anticipatory anxiety persists throughout the long arc of your medical school application, and may even extend to dreams of residency programs or job placements. As someone pursuing lengthy training, waiting is the reality of medicine.

Yet, waiting will get easier with time. Patience, uncommon as it is a virtue, is hard-earned.

What to do to lessen the wait: As you wait, I encourage you to be honest with yourself, and confront your hopes and fears about the process. Whether it be through meditation, writing, therapy, or conversation, I think it’s important to ground yourself in a reality that respects your feelings.

Further, as Voltaire said, “We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” As you wait, keep yourself busy and live life how you wish to at this moment. Follow your fire, pursue your passions, or try something new. The road ahead will be busy with obligations and responsibility, so do enjoy your time. Spend time with friends, learn a new language, or catch up on TV; your application is out of your hands and there’s not much you can do for the moment (except for sending along the occasional update).

The wait’s over. You got into medical school. Will you be happy? Yes, but only briefly unless you’re not already satisfied with yourself. I understand that getting into medical school is an incredible milestone: one that comes after years of hard work. But too often have I seen classmates hinge their happiness on an acceptance letter. Getting into medical school could be everything of which you dreamed, but it’s probably not the most important thing you’ll do. Indeed, the happy of experience of you getting in won’t translate you into being a happier person. Your expectations of happiness, self-fulfillment, self-actualization, etc. won’t come to fruition with you achieving your goal of getting into medical school. Perhaps, your hopes will be realized through the concious, daily journey you follow. Perhaps, pursuing what gives you joy every day can bring you closer to building a home within yourself.

The wait’s over. You didn’t get in this time and decided not to pursue medicine. What should you know? If you realize medical school is no longer the path you will pursue, I hope you take solace in the fact that a fulfilling, rewarding life can be pursued anywhere. There are billions of way to do so, and the values you seek in medicine are also reflected among many other careers.

Regardless of the outcome, I hope your journey through this process is rewarding and introspecting. Feel free to reach out and share your thoughts and reflections.

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