They either continue studying in a related field then re-apply or move on (get a job or to another field).
Many people I know that didn’t get in ended up doing something else. Some of my friends ended up in pharmacy, nursing and physio.
Personally: after I didn’t get in, I started a pharmacology bachelor degree then re-applied after I finished the first year. Didn’t get in. Re-applied after the second year, didn’t get in. Re-applied when I finished the degree and finally made it.
I was always on the waiting list. I wasn’t a bad student; it’s just that medicine is extremely competitive. If I didn’t get in that third time, I would have done a master’s in molecular biology. I had a spot in a good lab. I probably would have reapplied after, because I’m stubborn.
Once in medical school I ended up doing good - above average. In medical school, being above average is good; essentially the top 50% of the top 1%.
Marc-Emile Plourde, MD, Radiation oncologist, lead author of MD on Call app, co-founder Messil inc.