It’s nobody’s dream. In fact, it’s really what many premed students fear the most: A brief rejection letter that tells them that they simply were not considered to be among the best applicants for that year’s admission’s cycle. Whether it comes in the form of an email or actual letter, it never really makes a student feel any better about himself.

Rejection is never a pleasant experience in any situation, but when it comes in the form of rejection from a dream that you’ve worked so hard to reach for so long, the pain is only compounded. Fortunately, a rejection letter (or many rejection letters) actually can be a good thing for premeds. While it’s never a situation that they want to be in, dealing with rejection from medical school during one (or more) admissions cycles can actually make them a better medical student and a better doctor in the long run.

Firstly, being rejected from medical school should undoubtedly make a pre-medical student reexamine his/her goals. Is this rejection an indication that he isn’t supposed to be a doctor after all? Or is this rejection a slight detour in the road that will make her more determined to become a physician someday? For those students who  choose to adopt this latter mindset, being rejected from medical school will only make them more determined, more focused on getting accepted the next admissions cycle.

If you find yourself in this category, carefully try to determine what might have been a major factor in you being rejected (perhaps a low MCAT score, not submitting your applications promptly, too few personal references, etc.), and take extra heed to make sure that issue does not hinder your next application cycle. If this means retaking the MCAT, then do so. If this means applying to more medical schools your second round of applications, then save the money to do so. Being rejected from medical school is never the end of a dream for the determined premed student; instead, rejection is the catalyst for propelling him/her forward with even more determination than ever before.

Additionally, not only can being rejected from medical school make you a tougher, more determined student when you finally do get in, but your decision to reapply despite initial rejection can stand out to admissions committees as proof of your resilience. Resilience, regardless of the circumstances, is an admirable trait to possess. It shows that you as a student do not give up; you are someone who continues to press onward to reach your goals, no matter how hard the path ahead may be. While determination is often what motivates you, this determination is shown off to others as resilience.

Finally, rejection from medical school can help make you a more empathetic physician someday. Rejection is an uncomfortable, disappointing, and often scary experience, and all of these adjectives can also often be used to describe visits to the doctor’s office for many patients. Having experience with the emotions that often come with dealing with rejection can make for a more empathetic doctor, as he is often better at working to “put himself into his patients’ shoes” when treating them.