Applying to Medical SchoolGap Year

Path to Medical School Part 9: Being Aggressive


Read part 8 of the path to medical school.

Northwestern was one of my top choices. As soon as I had heard from them, I had the luxury of withdrawing from the schools that I would not choose over Northwestern. I was extremely grateful to have this luxury because even though I didn’t get into a med school as early as October 15 (which is the earliest date you can get accepted), I had gotten into one of my top choices by early December. I would say that the prospect of an early guarantee is a good enough reason to apply early. The path to medical school, especially the application process, is so long and grueling that it is better to end your misery earlier rather than later–the earlier you apply, the earlier you might hear back from a school.

I was still hoping for an interview invite from Columbia and UCLA but my waiting was not as anxious as before hearing back from Northwestern. UCLA was my top choice because it was a cheap and highly ranked school near my home. But throughout the application cycle, the idea of going far from home to a place like downtown Chicago became more and more enticing to me especially since my brother resided in Chicago as well. Columbia was wishful thinking but I did want to interview at one New York school at the very least (especially since I have never been to New York). There was a lingering silence from medical schools all throughout the winter. I had heard that UCLA was only interviewing until the end of February and so when that time rolled around, I was pretty disappointed. I also heard that Columbia had stopped interviewing by then. Not being invited to interview from either school by then most likely meant rejections.

While I was waiting however, I was very active about updating both UCLA and Columbia. I was more aggressive with UCLA because when I was being honest with myself, UCLA was my top choice. I tried to send them an update if I had anything notable to update them about. My update schedule ended up being about one update a month. On January 25th, I sent them this email because I knew I had nothing to lose:

“To DGSOM admissions,

My name is Edward Chang and I am an applicant for the 2012-2013 cycle. I was complete in early August and have not received an interview invite. I just wanted to say that UCLA is my top choice and I would love an opportunity to interview here. On paper, I may not be the most stellar applicant but please take a chance and meet me in person. You will not be disappointed. I have attached a brief update to my application. 

Thank you for the consideration,
Edward Chang”

On February 25th, I sent them this email:

“To DGSOM admissions,

 DGSOM remains my number one choice for medical school. My application was complete 8/4/2012. I have attached my most recent update. Thank you for the consideration!”

To be honest, I am not sure how useful these email updates were. But I thought they were useful because on March 4th, pretty much a week after my last email update, I got an interview invite. They asked me to interview in one week. I was so surprised because I thought they had already stopped interviewing.

I had not done a multiple-mini interview (MMI) before UCLA. I was actually excited to do one because I felt uncomfortable with the traditional one on one interview–I thought my personality and strengths would be displayed more in the MMI. During the day of the interview, I was a lot less nervous than any of my previous interviews but I did still feel like it was a high stakes interview because UCLA was my top choice. I was thankful that my interview was in the morning because I’m not as sharp in the afternoons.

The MMI went by like a whirlwind. There was no time to be nervous. It was fun, challenging, and exhausting at the same time. I was glad because I got to show different sides of who I am and how I think at each station. I thought the MMI was fairer than the traditional interview. I struggled on the first and last station (the same interviewer for both stations) and my interviewer was tough on me throughout both instances. Nevertheless, I did my best to stay calm under pressure. I left the MMI grateful that I could mess up on one or two stations because each new station was a fresh start.

*If you are wondering how you should prepare for an MMI, here is what you should know about the MMI.  Here is a sample MMI interview question  and the explanation of what interviewers are looking for.

To be honest, I left UCLA unimpressed. I think the fact that I was already very used to the area and the facilities played a big part in the lack of awe but regardless I thought they made an average effort to show the applicants why they should choose UCLA over any other school. And since I interviewed so late, I wasn’t expecting much. I assumed they had interviewed all the applicants they really wanted way earlier and I was more of a backup. But I reminded myself once again about the randomness of the application process and hoped for the best.

Read part 10, the finale.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter @ProspectiveDr

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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