Medical School Rejection Emails

Dr. Matthew J. Farrell grew up in Sacramento and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, a fellow doctor. He received a BA in Film & Media Studies from Stanford University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, and an MD from Oregon Health & Science University. He is now a radiation oncology resident at UCLA, doing his best to write in his head during long commutes. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in both literary and academic journals, including JAMA and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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Medical School Rejection Emails

The subject lines are innocuous enough—just the names of the institutions—

but you know you’re in trouble when they start discussing the unprecedented

quantity and quality of fellow applicants, and by the tenth identical email you

begin to suspect that all of these messages are written by the same person,

someone endlessly uplifted by the caliber of young minds out there but also

weighed down by regrets about all the informing that has to be done, and

when the last email comes you feel a rumbling heat growing at the base of

your skull and spreading to your ears, and you are transported back to that

sixth-grade field trip to Sutter’s Fort, to the candle-making station, when you

overheard your classmate, a popular boy, whispering to a girl you’d imagined

was the love of your life—I dare you to go over there and kiss him on the

cheek, he said, nodding in your direction—and out of the corner of your eye

you saw her vigorously shake her head, a silly rejection you can’t seem to forget.

Dr. Matthew J. Farrell grew up in Sacramento and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, a fellow doctor. He received a BA in Film & Media Studies from Stanford University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, and an MD from Oregon Health & Science University. He is now a radiation oncology resident at UCLA, doing his best to write in his head during long commutes. His fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in both literary and academic journals, including JAMA and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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