Overcoming obstacles

Rejection, redirection and resilience: How I found success after so many ‘no’s’

It took me several application cycles to get into medical school, but I am so glad I persisted. Here’s what I learned.


I had a psychic aura reading done for fun in December 2021. One of my main colors was yellow, which symbolizes optimism and positive energy. I laughed out loud when I received my results because I thought I was leaning more pessimistic. Being rejected from medical school for basically three application cycles can do that to you.

At that point, I was only halfway through my third DO application cycle, but my hopes were not high. I asked my friends what they thought of my aura results. They said they do see me as bubbly, positive and determined. All of this combined made me reflect on myself and my journey, particularly the most recent years.

  • January 2019: Faced a gynecological-mental health diagnosis
  • 2019-2020 cycle: Applied to medical schools my senior year of undergrad with a sub-500 MCAT. Rejected from ~28 osteopathic schools.
  • 2020-2021: Applied late during my first gap year with an above-500 MCAT. Received two interview invitations. Hope is back! Felt confident after two virtual interviews in the early spring of 2021. Promptly rejected. Felt lost, numb and confused.

Focusing on my dream

There must be some underlying reason why I hadn’t given up on this dream of becoming a physician, right? I tried to make peace with the fact that I would not still be on this path after this many attempts, after all of the fulfilling experiences I had had in the medical field as a shadow, clinical psych intern, ER scribe and more.

I told myself that a third cycle would be my final attempt in the U.S. before I would consider other paths to reach my dream.

During the first half of the 2021-2022 application cycle, I applied early to around 30 osteopathic schools and received my first in-person interview invitation in September of 2021. I couldn’t believe it! I prepared to the best of my ability, flew to a new state, connected well with my interviewer and even stayed in touch via email afterwards. Ultimately, I was rejected.

I already felt an immense weight of self-doubt, but this felt like the final straw. I felt even more numb, if that was even possible. Defeated is barely a word to describe the feelings I had. Was I delusional in thinking my interviews went well? Even my interviewers gave me positive feedback and did not know why I was rejected … how is that possible?

Finding a way to get back up on the horse

It takes a lot to put yourself out there – especially with everything going on in the world, navigating life with health changes and feeling like your future is unknown. Being knocked down multiple times by medical school rejections is no joke, especially post-interview (three times).

If this has happened to you or you have a fear of it happening, I am here to tell you that as hard as it is to see at the time, things will work out how they are supposed to.

With the help of therapy, occupying myself in a new job at a hospital, spending lots of time reflecting on my “why” and building up my self-love once again, I started to develop this strong, gut feeling that maybe, just maybe, things would work out in my favor with DO schools in the spring of 2022.

In the second half of the 2021-2022 cycle, on Feb. 16, I received an interview invitation and was subsequently waitlisted for admission into the COM. On Feb. 24, I received another interview invitation, was accepted for a different COM’s Class of 2027, and waitlisted for its Class of 2026. Lastly, on March 2, I received yet another interview invitation and was again placed on an admissions waitlist for a third COM.

Most people online tell you not to mention any “red flags” in your application. My approach in this third cycle was risky, but I wanted to be honest. My own mental health journey is a key factor to my “why,” and I had included it in my personal statement.

In my second and third interviews of 2022, we spoke about mental health, and it was the most beautiful experience – my personal statement was even brought up. I left each interview feeling energized and hopeful, a feeling I missed.

After being waitlisted and having anxiety build up again, I had to really dig deep and trust that it would all work out. I enjoyed each day to the fullest, spending time with my best friends and family, while trying not to stress over my future.

On May 10, I got the phone call I had been waiting for my whole life and committed immediately to what had become my dream school over the past few months, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM).

It may have taken longer than I had planned, but I understand why everything happened the way it did. I know now that I was meant to go to ICOM – a school that genuinely saw me and wanted me! I truly learned that ‘rejection is just redirection’ and built up an immense amount of strength and resilience for everything that is still to come in this field.

Lessons I learned along the way

Don’t hold back

If mental health is an integral part of your “why,” share it. If we truly want to end the stigma, we cannot shy away from mental health topics in medicine/admissions processes. The right institutions and people will be receptive to it.

Make a conscious effort

It takes a certain kind of person to pick themselves back up after they’ve fallen down. There are a lot of things in life we can’t control, but you have the choice to move forward after rejection.


I cannot emphasize how important and valuable the art of communication is. A large determining factor in receiving my three interviews this spring was because I continued to reach out to admissions, providing updates but also asking legitimate questions. Make yourself heard and let them know your name and who you are.

Own your story and speak from the heart.

It is apparent when someone is genuine and speaks their truth, and it will build a stronger connection between yourself and the reader/interviewer. You will also feel more confident when you’ve shown your honest self.

Believe in yourself.

I promise if you continue to dig deep and keep that fire inside of you lit, you can do anything. I love the saying “when there is a will, there is a way.”

I hope a piece of my story inspires you to normalize rejection, speak up about mental health and hold on to your dream – even if it takes a bit longer than you had imagined.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

5 ways to deal with rejection as a medical student

More to Match: Should I choose a back-up specialty?

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy