Don’t let below-average academic grades deter you from applying to medical school

November 24, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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A Gap Medics student on placement in the operating theatre Do you dream of a career in healthcare but are hesitant to apply to medical school because you’ve heard that applications of students with low academic grades are just trashed?

While it is true that academic scores are important, you should know that they are not the only deciding factor for gaining admission into medical school. When medical school authorities assess the applications they receive, they look for several things and academic scores is only one of them. The more important factor that could influence their decision irrespective of your scores is whether or not you are truly passionate about medicine and about helping other people. 


The case for and against academic scores

Becoming a doctor is like no other profession. Lives depend on you being knowledgeable and efficient. As a doctor you cannot afford to make mistakes, which means you have to have thorough knowledge of your specialty. This is where academic rigor comes into play. The reason why med school authorities give preference to students who score high academic grades is because it tells them that you have what it takes to get through the rigorous medical school curriculum.   

However, not all smart people make good doctors and this is why the medical school authorities look beyond the transcripts for something else – something that tells them that you genuinely want to help other people and are passionate about pursuing a career in medicine.  So how can you turn it around and submit a successful application despite the not-so-good grades?


A few things you can do to boost your application

Here are a few things you can do before you send in your application:



 Almost every city has a number of charity organisations and most of these could do with some help. Volunteering in these organisations shows your genuine interest in helping the underserved. Focus on volunteering in some kind of healthcare charity, a nursing home or neighbourhood rehab facility.


Sign up for a few short-term courses 

Organisations such as the Red Cross and John Hopkins conduct several short-term courses and First-Aid courses that will help boost your academic records.


Look for shadowing opportunities in your city

 Shadowing involves following a physician as they go about their duties in a hospital or any other healthcare setting. Spending time shadowing a doctor tells the med school authorities that you are making an educated choice, which means you are more likely to stay the course rather than give up mid way.   


Register for a medical shadowing placement abroad

 A medical placement abroad is typically a two to three week program during which you gain clinical experience shadowing doctors. Many of these opportunities are in developing countries where you will also gain an appreciation for disparities in healthcare. You will spend your days observing and helping doctors as they go about their daily schedules treating patients. An experience such as this exposes you to the harsh realities of healthcare in poorer countries in the absence of hi-tech equipment or any kind of support. The fact that you decided to spend time gaining experience in such a setting speaks volumes about your passion, dedication and commitment to caring for other people. More importantly, it helps you bridge that gap created by your below-average scores and gives you the leverage you need to be able to compete with higher scoring applicants.