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Applying to Medical School as a DACA Recipient

Singh, Raj

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002785
Letters to the Editor
Free

Certified research specialist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas; rsingh72116@gmail.com.

Disclosures: None reported.

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To the Editor:

Like most of my peers, I was aware of the tedious and demanding pursuit of getting into medical school. Thus, I worked tirelessly to achieve competitive grades while juggling multiple jobs and extracurricular activities. I was taken aback, though, when it finally came time to apply. As a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I was surprised by the additional obstacles I confronted during the admissions process, unlike a traditional applicant. To my dismay, none of the medical schools in my home state allow DACA students to enroll in their MD or DO programs. Hence, I was compelled to apply to out-of-state medical schools.

As I did more research, I learned that most medical schools in the United States were not an option for me. Even the list of medical schools that would accept me was not as reassuring as it appeared to be. After finding little information about DACA students on most of these medical schools’ websites, I decided to call each one. I discovered that most of the schools still had restrictions, like having little-to-no financial support available for DACA recipients, accepting only DACA students with state residency, or prioritizing DACA students with state residency over out-of-state ones.

I stayed resilient in my approach and tried reaching out to multiple private loan companies to help me tackle my financial issues and, therefore, expand my choice of medical schools. Most of these companies required that I first have a cosigner who was either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident before applying for a loan. This was not an option for me. Consequently, I was forced to eliminate many schools from my already diminutive pool of options. My limited list of suitable medical schools consisted of only highly competitive schools, like private and Ivy League institutions.

Through it all, I remained optimistic and applied to the most competitive schools. I hope my experience of applying to medical school raises more awareness of the obstacles DACA students continue to face and their slim odds of getting admitted. DACA students have a lot to contribute to this country, but they need an equal opportunity to do so.

Raj Singh

Certified research specialist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas; rsingh72116@gmail.com.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges