Feb
6
2011

Indian Giving Medical School Acceptances


If you’ve read any of my blog at all you probably know by now that I’m a medical student. Applying to medical school is a long, exhausting process. I know because, well, I did it twice.

In Texas we have a little bit of a different system than other states. You apply starting in June-ish and interview throughout the Fall semester of the year before you want to start school. Most people do this during Fall of the senior year of college, hoping to begin medical school the July/August after graduation. 

 Acceptance offers to Texas medical schools* go out in 3 waves:

  1. “Pre-Match” – Acceptances offered from November 1 – December 31
  2. “The Match” – A process that involves ranking every school you interviewed at from favorite to least favorite. The idea is that this enhances the number of students who get to go to their top choice school. At midnight on Feb. 1 you log onto TMDSAS and find out if which, if any, school accepted you. If you have a “pre-match” offer to a school, but “match” to a school you ranked higher you automatically forfeit your pre-match offer and are enrolled in the higher ranked school’s class. 
  3. “Waitlists” – Usually accept a few people in random waves from about March 1 up until the first day of each school’s orientation.
So, this past Monday was “match day” for the students applying to Texas med school classes of 2015. Many of these students are college seniors and hoping to go straight to med school after graduation. 
My “Match Day” Announcement from 2009


Texas A&M College of Medicine (a school I like and respect a lot, it’s also the med school of my undergrad alma mater) is a really great medical school. Unfortunately, this year they really screwed up. And I mean big time. 
Somehow, over the course of pre-match and match offers, they managed to overfill their class by EIGHTY seats. They are now forcing 80 of their students to defer (put off beginning school) their acceptance for a year. 


There are students who ranked A&M higher in the match than another school they already had an acceptance to, got “matched” to A&M (thus automatically forfeiting the previous acceptance) and immediately received an email stating that 80 people were going to be chosen to defer. So, while they are not truly “indian givers” in the sense that these students will eventually get to attend medical school, they left them with the impression they were accepted to attend this coming fall and are now going back on that.

This is appalling on so many levels. Presumably, the admissions at A&M knew they were already overfilled – so, why did they not notify students before match rankings were due to allow those with other offers to keep their acceptance at a different school? And why did they go ahead and accept more people in the match? And why, in their follow-up email to their new students, did they not own up to their mistake, apologize and tell them they were working out a solution instead of threatening a lottery-choice for who would defer?


Now, I know this sounds like not so big of a deal to those of you who haven’t been through this process, but consider these points:

  1. In this year of forced deferral some students will have undergrad loan payments that come due – many who have degrees in things you cannot easily get a job with right out of college (Psychology, Biomedical Science, etc.)…especially with the job market like it is right now. 
  2. These students will be searching for a job for one year. They know they will be quitting in June of next year. What are the chances of being hired under those conditions in this economy with a degree like “Biochemistry?” 
  3. This takes away an entire year of earning potential. Med school will be the same length no matter when they begin and so will residency. So, what they are taking from these students is an entire year of future earning potential. For many of them that will be the equivalent of losing a six-figure paycheck. 

In my opinion TMDSAS (the application service) should be limiting schools on how many offers they can send out in the pre-match period. No school should be allowed to offer more spots than they actually have just because they assume that some people will decline. This is poor practice and sets admissions committees up to be in a position like A&M is now in.



What would do you think A&M should do? How should they choose who has to defer and do these students deserve some kind of stipend? How much makes up for a mistake like this? How do they redeem themselves after this kind of mistake?

*When I say “Texas Medical Schools” I am including 8 of the 9 actual TX medical schools (UT Southwesters, UNT-HSC Texas College Of Osteopathic Medicine, UT Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas A&M HSC College of Medicine, Texas Tech HSC School of Medicine, UT Health Science Center in Houston, UT HSC in San Antonio and Texas Tech HSC Paul L. Foster School of Medicine). I have purposely excluded Baylor College of Medicine – they do not participate in the Texas match because they are way to proper for those sorts of things. Or they’re a private school so they don’t have to. Whatever.

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8 Comments + Add Comment

  • Wow, I'm surprised that's permitted. Most schools I know of just run waitlists.

    As a side note, I find the term "Indian giver" extremely offensive. Would you consider deleting it from your post and title?

  • OMG, i would freak out if I were one of those 80… hopefully some of them applied to other non-texas schools and get accepted to one of those!

  • Liana – I'm sorry you find the term offensive. Do you find it offensive because you are Native American? I am, actually. I have a significant amount of Cherokee in my lineage, enough that with proper documentation I could claim Native American as my race on job applications and driver's licenses. I don't do that, but I could if I wanted to hunt down my family's Dawe's applications. A lot of my relatively recent ancestors actually resided in the Cherokee Mission at Fort Smith Arkansas.

    I now realize that the term may be offensive to some, that is not something I even considered when writing this post. However, it is a term I grew up saying and is simply a way to express my feelings towards offering something and then taking it away in a short and concise way.

    I appreciate your honesty and I will consider editing the post since it has been brought to my attention (ironically by two Canadians, I am wondering if it is less "PC" in Canada that it is in America, because I have never heard it called offensive until today) although I don't feel like the phrase is offered up literally and I'm not typically one to sensor my thoughts or expressions. I'm truly sorry if I offended you or anyone else and I will ponder your statement and consider choosing a new title if I feel it is distracting from the point of the post.

  • I had to wiki the term "Indian giver," having never heard it before :O

    that really sucks…at most the people that weren't planning to find a job at all will probably have to look for crappy part-time jobs just to pay off student loans. =/

  • Hey Danielle. You know I love you.

    But yes, Eeeek! I cringed when I saw the term 'Indian giver'. And yes, I am Canadian. Not that I think that matters. For me, it's an outdated term that has been used in the past to marginalize groups of people. So for me, personally, I would never use the term.

    Being in British Columbia,Canada, we have a very large 'First Nations' culture. As a teacher, I would never teach that term to my students. And yet, the term itself, has much historical significance. I guess it's important to look at the root as to why it existed in the first place. And 'who' was using it.

    In blog world, and in real life, to each his/her own I say. Just thought I'd chime in on that. I'm just really sensitive to 'old' sayings that imply a sense of power or judgment against others…regardless of origin or gender.

    Either way, I hate the shit that post secondary schools make you go through. I personally believe that all of their beurocracy is always about gaining more money. Whether it is in tuition or application fees. The amount I've paid just to become a teacher, and to then receive a mediocre salary, is frustrating. 7 years of post secondary education for 2 degrees…for poop. I swear, someone is sitting in that golden office counting the coin on the fees they have collected from young, impressionable students.

    Best of luck. Persevere.

  • I think this is a hard conversation to have, let alone when you don't have the benefit of facial expressions and tone. So let me just say that I enjoyed reading the rest of your blog, and you come across as very funny and generally awesome.

    I'm not Native American. I find the term offensive because of its origins and because of its connotations. You're right. It's simple and concise and we all get what you mean by it. You're using it to express dismay and outrage that someone would be so uncouth as to give something and then take it back. But why is a negative action being associated with an entire group of people with a particular origin?

    I don't think it's just a Canadian thing either. A few years ago, Jessica Simpson got blasted for using the term "Indian giver" even though she says she's 1/16 Indian on her mother's side.

    Anyway, thanks for your respectful response to me.

  • fwiw, a&m went over by 80 on pre-match offers alone, they did not make any additional offers in the match. galveston overfilled their class last year, and they did it in the match, so they knew they had offered too many seats. still, galveston at least gave students a more generous package for deferment, some of their deferred applicants even got a free ride! a&m is giving just 2 grand to defer, which I think is a bit insulting!

    At least TMDSAS is not going to force applicants at A&M to honor their match. If any of the applicants that were prematched there had other prematch offers, or if they could have ranked other schools higher in the match but did not they should contact the other schools and ask to be placed on the wait list. especially if they had a prematch offer at that school, they'll likely end up at the top of the wait list. at least this way they'll be able to start medical school this year!

  • A&M actually did match some people. I don't know who told you they didn't, but I personally know people who matched to A&M. It wasn't a lot of people – but it was some and some was too many because they obviously knew they were going to overfill their class.

    Galveston started their compensation low and worked their way up to full rides. A&M will increase their offer eventually, however I doubt they increase it to the point of full rides – 80 is a LOT of people. Even at just 2k that ends up being a $160,000 mistake. Obviously, I believe these people deserve way more than two thousand dollars for an entire year off, but I do see why A&M has been holding out on bigger offers.

    Well, you'll probably never see this anyway. =/ I'm off to make anonymous comments illegal on my blog because it frustrates me to no end when I can't respond to someone or thank them!! It's not even the mean anonymous comments that get to me haha – it's the nice ones from people I'd like to have a conversation with.

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About The Author

I’m a Medical Student (that means I'm in school to become a doctor). My life story can be viewed here. I started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit school and move to Hollywood, so if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact I'm probably a spambot. Or a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.

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