Family Members: How You Can Help Your Med School Applicants

Do you have a family member in the process of applying for medical school?  Whether it’s a son, daughter, sibling, spouse, or even a friend in the midst of the application process, you have a role to play.  The med school application process is very stressful, hectic, and sometimes confusing.  Consequently, your family member is likely to be stressed out, tired, confused, and at times discouraged.  I know from experience that, in many cases, the family members of a med school applicant play a significant role in determining the outcome of the application process.  So if you have a family member or someone you love that is currently seeking admission into medical school, below are practical ways to help:

1) Don’t add stress to the applicant. Anyone in the midst of the med school application process has plenty of stress in their life.  The last thing they need is more from their family.  Do your best to shield the applicant from stress whenever possible.  This can include not arguing in his or her presence, not discussing finances or other concerns, and generally freeing the applicant to focus on the admissions process.  Unfortunately, sometimes life is stressful and there is nothing we can do about it—but do your best to minimize it.

2) Relieve pressure—don’t make it worse. Med school applicants face huge amounts of pressure.  Their dreams of a career in the medical field are literally in the balance during this process.  And many students are set on attending specific schools and will be disappointed with anything but their first choice.  As a family member, make it clear that you are proud of the student no matter what the results of this process may be.  Let them know that you love and support them unconditionally.

3) Help the applicant stay healthy and clear-headed. As a family member, you know the applicant better than anyone.  Watch for signs that he or she is pushing too hard and encourage them to relax.  Whether that means taking a day off to clear his or her mind, or simply getting a couple of extra hours of sleep, encourage them to take care of themselves first and foremost.

Life for a med school applicant is stressful and chaotic.  As a family member, you have the ability to make the process easier and increase the applicant’s chances of success.  Keep the above suggestions in mind—your family member will thank you for it!

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