The idea that there’s a universal blacklist of medical applicants that’s passed around med schools is an old one. But is there any truth to the rumours?
Can you really be blacklisted from medical school?
There is no evidence, beyond the occasional pre-med anecdote, that you can be blacklisted from medical school. According to American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) guidelines, medical schools are not allowed to communicate with each other regarding student applications. So if you feel you’ve been blacklisted, it’s most likely something else.
What those things may possibly be is what we hope to dive into in this article.
Here’s what else we’ll discuss:
- What blacklisting is
- What reasons exist for blacklisting
- If quitting med school puts you on a blacklist
As a med student myself, and someone who’s interested in whether or not blacklisting is real, I think this article could help clear up some of the heresay.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
What is blacklisting?
Blacklisting, at least in medical school terms, usually refers to one of the following conditions:
- Rejecting an admissions offer, reapplying (to the same and others) and failing to gain acceptance
- Being kicked out of one school and refused reapplication/admission to another
- Constantly applying only to never be asked to interview
The idea here is that the repeated rejection indicates some sort of “blacklisting”.
Whether it actually exists however, as we’ve already suggested, is definitely controversial.
In most of these cases above, outsiders looking in would call each of these plain rejection.
And likely look over any supposed conspiracy or blacklisting activity that’s lead to some sort of unfair treatment.
What does AMCAS say?
As far as AMCAS goes, any sort of blacklisting activity is against admissions rules.
Rules 10 and 11 of their Acceptance and Application Protocols suggest as much…
10. Each school, consistent with its own privacy policies, should appropriately safeguard information related to an individual’s application for admission or financial aid.
11. Each school should treat all letters of evaluation submitted in support of an application as confidential, except in those states with applicable laws to the contrary. The contents of a letter of evaluation should not be revealed to an applicant at any time.(Source)
So to divulge any information about a student to another school, especially things concerning their suitability for candidacy, goes against the privacy policies and safeguarding rules set in place.
But, despite all this, there are many students who simple refuse to believe (through their own experience and others) that medical schools follow this code of conduct!
To them, blacklisting appears very real.
Looking around the various community hangouts of both med students and pre-meds online, lots of stories of supposed blacklisting abound.
Here are a select few (taken from various sources)…
On the theory that blacklists exist for students who reject offers…
Blacklists exist, and most schools will ask if you’ve been accepted before. Why would they take a chance on someone who has turned an acceptance down before?u/Eshado (Source)
Becoming “blacklisted” is a real possibility. I had a friend of mine apply to a small number of med schools. She received 1 acceptance, but later determined that she should have applied more broadly to enter a “better” medical school in her mind. She declined. While her stats were quite reasonable, she subsequently received all rejections for the next 4 years.TexasPhysician (Source)
On the theory that blacklisting can occur for rude/belligerent students…
I had argued and been impolite to a AAMCAS executive secretary once, and when I applied to 40 medical schools at cost of thousands of dollars, I received not even a rejection letter let alone any interview offer.Craig Alhanati (Source)
I had a student once who was certainly very bright, and did excellent academic work. He applied over several years to many medical schools and never got admission. The problem was, I believe, that he was just not a very personable guy. He tended to be defensive and somewhat arrogant and belligerent…when multiple institutions come out with the same result, there must be something in common in all the applications.William Beeman (Source)
As the stories above help to show, most of the stories of pre-meds who claim to have been blacklisted are extremely hard to verify.
But that’s not to say it definitely doesn’t happen.
Just like it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility to imagine disgruntled employees or admissions committee members sabotaging a potential application on the grounds of something not being to their liking.
Although it is massively unethical.
What’s the biggest reason for getting blacklisted?
Something that definitely could lead to blacklisting (or the perception of blacklisting) is a public crime. Even more so if it is nationally reported and a quick Google search can pick it up.
Besides that, however, it’s really hard to say what else could lead to blacklisting.
Students might claim things like it being because of details on their personal statements, or due to contacts on the letters of recommendation (LOR’s) or even the presence on social media etc.
But most of the time it could just be a convenient excuse for simply not being able to handle rejection.
Medical schools are too busy, for the most part, to keep blacklists of students. Let alone pass them around and collude with other schools to stop a particular individual from ever gaining entry.
Does quitting medical school put you on a blacklist?
The short answer is no. There’s no evidence that you’ll be put on a blacklist should you quit medical school.
Getting back in will, of course, be extremely difficult. But if you show a school you did it politely with good reason (and gave plenty of notice), it is possible.
Although it’s a bit of a stretch to assume medical school blacklisting is real, it’s not that hard to imagine.
People on admissions committees at separate schools may talk to one another. While individuals at AMCAS, responsible for processing applications, have it in their power to delete or change key information that could be potentially ruinous.
Personal research, and one based on looking at several reported blacklisting cases, suggest it’s unlikely, however.
On one side, it seems like extreme paranoia. On the other, justification for not being able to accept the weaker parts of an application.
Either way, blacklisting doesn’t appear a real enough threat to the vast majority of pre-meds!
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.