Accepting Your Offer

You got into one medical school.

Congratulations! You got in! Take some time to celebrate this incredible moment. All this hard work has finally paid off. You deserve all of this. Share the good news with your loved ones and get ready for this new exciting and demanding chapter of your life.

Take some time off to relax and destress after the ordeal that is application. Some people often find pleasure or satisfaction in taking a part-time job, traveling, or learning a new skill they have been pushing aside.

It might also be time to consider some factors such as temporarily relocating to another city, tuition, and housing. If you have a partner, are married, or have children, it will be helpful to start making plans especially if the school you got accepted into is in a different city. There are several issues most schools are willing to provide guidance on but if there are any niche questions or challenges you may have, it would be a good time to get in touch with the registrar of Undergraduate Medical Education program at the university you just gained acceptance into.

You got into multiple medical schools.

If you got more than one acceptance, you rock! However, this can be a bittersweet feeling since you now have to choose. Sometimes it is easier when things are decided for us and we just roll with it, but in this case, you may have some serious thinking to do. Choosing the school where you will be spending the next three or four years of your life is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Many factors should come into consideration during your thought process:

  • The cost of education.
    • How expensive is the school tuition? Can you afford it?
    • Were you offered scholarships? Financial aid?
    • Will you require loans?
    • If you would require loans (especially with American medical schools), does the school have a loan program?
    • How much financial support will you be able to get from family with regards to paying for your education and other living expenses
  • The location.
    • Location is a very important factor to consider when deciding on which medical school offer to accept. Reasons may vary with regards to why individuals choose some programs over others but with regard to the location some important questions to consider are: whether the school located in your hometown, where most of your friends and family live and how far is the school from your home? If you are not ready to leave your hometown just yet, choosing a school in the city or town you live in may seem like a more viable option. Nonetheless, it is very important to have a support system when in medical school and if location plays a very important factor with regards to your support system then it is worthwhile to give it much thought.
    • Do you want your medical education to occur in a small town or you prefer the hustle and bustle of a large city?
    • If you have to move, will you be financially stable enough?
    • Do you like the city the school is in? If you like going out, how is the night life? If you are a foodie, how will your culinary experience be? Remember that as much as you will study in medical school, you’ll also need to find a balance with all the other aspects of your life and take time to enjoy the present.
The duration of the program.
  • While students may pursue the “conventional” path before medical school by completing an undergraduate degree in any discipline of their choice before applying to medical school (exceptions for Québec and for students applying out of their third year of undergraduate studies), others may have pursued other careers, or furthered their academic studies before considering medicine.
  • For others who have pursued other careers, academic programs, or have specific academic and professional goals, knowing the length of duration of the MD program, is additional information that should be taken into consideration when deciding which offer to accept. Most MD programs range from 3-5 years in terms of duration.
  • If you are a student who got accepted into an MD-PhD program, it is expected that completion of your program will certainly have a longer duration. PhD studies can have variable ranges depending on several academic and non-academic factors. It is therefore important to ascertain the accommodations that your school has in place for MD-PhD students in relation to program duration when accepting your offer.
    The pedagogic approach/program structure/evaluation methods.
    • Some schools have a more “self-learn-hands-on” or “flipped-classroom” approach in addition to problem-based learning which requires more self-discipline and resourcefulness but might be interesting if magistral classes were never your strong suit.
    • Other schools utilize a more classic teaching approach where lectures for the majority of how educational content is delivered and some people may prefer this mode of teaching.
    • However, most programs will have some form of structured clinical teaching, but many will differ with regards to how students are evaluated with regards to their clinical skills.
    • While some programs carry out few tests or evaluations during a semester, other schools may have more frequent tests (e.g. bi-weekly or bi-monthly). Therefore, some questions to consider are:
      1. How is the clinical exposition and how early does it begin?
      2. What kind of assessments methods do they use and how often are assessments carried out?
      3. Are most students generally satisfied with their medical education?
    • These questions are not the only ones that you can think of but it is important to know how you learn best and which school’s pedagogic approach will maximise your performance and learning experience.
    The opportunities in and outside school.
    • Does the school offer some flexibility during the journey, MD-MSc programs, sabbatical semester/year, concomitant athletic career, etc?
    • Does the school offer research and international opportunities? Study abroad programs?
    • Does the school offer services to the students in need? This includes support for mental health issues, financial difficulties, and academic obstacles.
    • How does the school support their clubs in their university, and do they support student led initiatives?
    • Are there opportunities to get involved in volunteer or community service work?
    • It is easy to gain clinical exposure in the academic and community hospitals outside school?
    The values and plus-value of the school.
    • Does the school value the importance of diversity among its students? Are there any policies ensuring that ethical and ethnic responsibilities regarding the courses and opportunities are met? Do the students attending the school have different backgrounds? Are ethnic/cultural minorities, women, and LGBTQ+ students represented? What is the school’s mission?
    • How is the school life outside classes? Is there a lifting school spirit? Are there committees or interest groups that align with your personal and/or professional interests? How is the atmosphere/learning environment? Is it competitive or more friendly?
    • As elitist as it may sound, how well known is that school? Keep in mind that regardless of the medical school you’re going, at the end of the day you will still be a doctor but it cannot hurt to look at the CARMS match rates from the school or do some research on the school’s renown. Basically, look into the academic quality of the school. Where does the school rank among others in the country or internationally? What percentage of students graduate from the program?
    • The building itself might be something interesting to look at since a lot of your time will be spent there. Is it newly renovated? Is it on the other side of campus? Are all your classes in the same building? These are very meticulous details that might not sound very important now but will be on a day-to-day basis once you’re enrolled.

    You got waitlisted.

    If you are on the waitlist, good job. Do not mistake a waitlist for a rejection (or an acceptance). For some schools, people that are further down the list still have a fighting chance to get in as other candidates decline their offers. Generally Canadian medical schools do not allow the submission of more information after the application process has been completed. However, you should take some time to appreciate your efforts and reflect on the process. When it comes to American medical schools, you have the chance to send in secondary information such as a letter stating despite being on the waitlist, why that school is important to you as well as any other activities that you have been up to that show why you would be a perfect match for that university.

    But the most important aspect about being on the waitlist is to have a plan while remaining hopeful and positive. It is crucial to know what your next step will be in case it does not work out. Please see “You didn’t get in now what?” chapter for more information.

    Conclusion

    These are all very important questions you should ask yourself but the most important question you need to ask yourself will always be: would I be happy and fulfilled in this school for the next 3,4, or 5 years?