Purpose: To explore factors associated with becoming a repeat applicant to medical school—specifically, factors involving alternative educational and career plans and educational indebtedness—and how they differ by gender.
Method: Using deidentified 2009 and 2010 American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) data, the authors determined the potential and actual 2010 repeat applicants among first-time applicants who were not accepted to medical school in 2009. Using logistic regression models, they then analyzed the deidentified 2008 Pre-MCAT Questionnaire (PMQ) responses of those potential 2010 repeat applicants who had participated in the PMQ to examine associations between aspirants' self-reported alternative educational and career (Plan B) options as well as levels of indebtedness and the likelihood of reapplying. Using population-level demographic data from AMCAS, the authors weighted analyses to more accurately reflect the actual population of potential repeat applicants. They also explored gender-related differences.
Results: Considering as a Plan B applying to a different graduate degree program—business, law, science, another health profession—decreased the likelihood that an unsuccessful 2009 first-time applicant would reapply to medical school in 2010. Aspirants who had more than $20,000 of educational debt were also less likely to become repeat applicants. In separate analyses for men and women, factors associated with the likelihood of reapplying differed noticeably.
Conclusions: The authors' findings provide insight into how medical school aspirants make decisions about their career and educational pathways, and how factors associated with those decisions shape the social composition of the medical school applicant pool.