Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

How I Got into Harvard Med, Almost

Marc Ringel

When I applied to medical school there were about half as many freshman class slots for us baby boomers as there are now. Competition was further intensified by the availability of medical student deferments for the Vietnam draft. Consequently, I applied to 18 medical schools, a modest number in those days. Among them was Harvard.

I didn't like Harvard from the first. It was the only school that did not send me the catalogue I requested, explaining it was available at most college libraries. Then there was the application--they wanted a high-school transcript and writing sample. Unlike other applications, which were to be printed or typed, Harvard's was to be typed, period.

Apparently, I got over the first hurdle well enough to qualify for an interview. They sent a man by my college campus as a side trip to his main job of recruiting minority students.

We met at the information desk of the student union. I showed up in a funky pair of jeans, sandals, shirt, tie and sports jacket. I was sporting a scraggly goatee and a curly mop of hair.

When I arrived there was a man standing at the desk facing away from me. I spoke the name of my inquisitor-to-be. He turned and responded, smiling. He was wearing funky jeans, sandals, jacket and tie, scraggly goatee, and long curly hair.

We sat for 2 or 3 hours drinking coffee at a booth in the union discussing enthusiastically politics, science, and philosophy. I extemporaneously developed that afternoon the song and dance that was to serve me well at most of my future medical school interviews. I found that nearly every question I was asked by my various interviewers was a variation of "Why do you want to be a doctor?"

-18-

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