Best Foot Forward #1: Are You Special?
Best Foot Forward is a blog series written with premed students in mind.
Are you special?
It is what your future medical school wants to know. It is what sets you apart. It is what you know about yourself but have never had to put into words... until now. Medical school admissions is a very challenging job. For every student that you accept, there's 20 that you deny. You tell them they weren't special enough. At least this is how the millennial mind operates.
Medicine becomes this identity that we carry even before we get our white coat. I see profiles of premed students on Instagram already declaring what kind of doctor they will be someday. Some of it is healthy confidence, some of it is pride, and I think some of it is insanity. We all know a premed student that we really, really hope doesn't become a doctor because their people skills just aren't quite there. On the other end, there is the student that gets accepted to medical school and no one ever knew he was applying.
So how do you convince the first person that sees your application that you're special? That is the crux of this series- helping you build your application so that you can stand out.
Before we get to the specifics, I want to address the metaphysical issue of being "special" in the eyes of the medical school admissions committee. The people who sit on these committees are normal people. They are just like you and me: they have families, they have jobs, they have bills to pay, and they want everyone to succeed regardless of where they end up. Some people fall into a trap of almost worshiping the admissions committee. It is unnatural to treat these people as anything different than a professional colleague.
In two days, I start a rotation where I will be working side-by-side with the doctor that interviewed me at my med school interview. I have not seen him or talked to him since then. I am not sure he will even recognize me [Update 2/21/2017: He most definitely does not recognize me, which is totally OK lol]. And soon enough, I will be his peer in medicine. During my interview, I didn't shower him with praise for the accomplishments of his life- I treated him like my future peer, like a fellow professional.
If you want people to think you are "special," you have to first believe that you have something to offer others. This is never explicitly stated, but it shines through your personal statement, activities, volunteer experiences, and leadership experiences. More than that, it shines through in the way you carry yourself on interview day. What we are talking about here is also called self-confidence.
3 Parting Thoughts
1. If you lack self-confidence, you need to find some before you apply to medical school. Thankfully, I did not lack self-confidence, and unfortunately at times had more than I should have. What I found to be extremely helpful during my last year of college was meeting a few times with a counselor at school to discuss my formative life experiences. It was awkward at times, but he gave me direction on how to go about "finding myself" (I very dislike that phrase, but it is accurate), and that journey instilled in me a lot of confidence in who I am and what I have to offer others.
2. If you are interviewing soon, you need to portray self-confidence. If you don't have much, you need a IM injection of 100 mg Confidiazepam! Fake it until you make it! Look up resources on positive self talk. If you're not sure how much confidence you have, ask people who know you well, and they will quickly be able to tell you if you portray yourself confidently.
3. Being confident includes being comfortable saying when you don't know something.
I wish you all the success the world has to offer. This is only the start of a long conversation. I would love to hear about your journey! Comment below and don't forget to sign up for my income report.