by Sanford J. Brown M.D.



You can get into medical scool COVER



It was during the summer of 1972, while I was between my junior and senior year at the Medical College of Wisconsin, that I first had the idea of writing a guidebook for premedical students. I had just finished publishing two health education coloring books and was looking for a place to invest some creative energy. The guidebook seemed a natural for me; I had been a college English major and loved to write and I was probably the most atypical member of my medical school class. My college GPA was below a 3.0. My MCAT scores were abysmal. I had taken not one premedical course during my entire four year college career. I had almost no advising. Yet I gained admission to a medical school. It occurred to me that I had a story to tell and, perhaps, some advice to give.

The first draft took three weeks to write in longhand, four to five hours a day. It was the most effortless writing I have ever done, probably because it was anecdotal. After the original manuscript was edited and typed, I worked on it sporadically during my last year of medical school. The Department of Preventive Medicine allowed me to complete it for my senior project. That accomplished, I sought a publisher.

By 1973 a "how to" book on getting into medical school had not yet appeared. Mine was in the proverbial right place at the right time. A contract was negotiated with Barron's Books, Inc. and a real editor was assigned. Still, publication was a long way off. I continued to work on the book during my internship, refining the text, gathering relevant statistics, arranging for illustrations. By June of 1974 my part was over. The project had taken, on and off, two years.

The first edition of Getting into Medical School came out late in 1974. Since then it has undergone five revisions and is now in its sixth edition. Authors are pleased when their books remain in print, and I have been doubly so. First because people wanting to pursue a medical career have continued to find the information presented in my book helpful to them. But most of my pleasure over the years has come from the letters that I have received from my readers. They come in a steady stream, typed and handwritten, and often there is an urgency about them.

Some letters have been simple thank yous, written by aspiring premeds who had benefited from my advice. But the majority of them are more than that; they are pleas for help, understanding, insight and direction. They run the gamut, from the 13-year-old who asked if medical school would leave her enough time for a boyfriend and a part-time job, to a 39-year-old retiring police sergeant who questioned if he had any chance at all of entering medicine as a second career. In between are letters from handicapped students, minority students, foreign nationals. There are letters from high school students wondering if they really want to become physicians, and from college graduates contemplating switching professions. Men and women, single, married, divorced, young and old, in and out of school, have written to me. People from different ethnic groups and different geographical areas have sent inquiries. The questions and comments have been, on the whole, quite good and have gone beyond the scope of my book to more intimate concerns. I have attempted to reply to most of them and, in some cases, encouraged a dialogue. After accumulating more than 100 letters I became curious. What had happened to'all those people? I decided to find out.

In January, 1984, I sent a letter to all my readers who had written to me over the years asking them how they had fared in their quest to become physicians. I had a 25% response and as the answers began to come in I noticed that they too made remarkable reading; the successes and failures, joys and resignations-in short, the way that people had dealt with circumstance. Because I felt that it would be useful information for many different types of premeds I decided to publish a book using a selection of the original letters, my replies to them or comments about them, and the follow-ups.

This book is organized with regard to the writer's age and educational status-letters from high school students at the beginning and those from older college graduates toward the end. In between are letters from college students and recent grads, all anxious to become physicians. I have attempted to bunch letters on similar subjects together without being repetitious Some letters are answered individually, others as a group. Names were changed to protect a writer's privacy except when permission was given for their use. With thanks to my many reader-writers I now offer a selection of their correspondence so that new readers desirous of entering my chosen profession can get a clearer view of the path that lies before them.


Sandy Brown, M.D.

Caspar, California

July, 1985




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