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Mayo Clinic Medical School accidentally sends acceptance emails to all applicants

Over 360 students received emails on Feb. 13

fsa Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Forum News Service

Thursday was a confusing roller coaster for students applying to Rochester's Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

Students who had been interviewed by Mayo Clinic all received emails saying they had been accepted into the school, which accepts about 50 students a year in the Minnesota program.

The good news caused many of the recipients to start celebrating and even to withdraw their names from consideration at other medical schools.

Then, more than three hours later, another Mayo Clinic email was sent that changed everything.

This one notified the applicants of a glitch and that the first message was a mistake. Jubilation became disappointment.


"... Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine erroneously emailed 364 letters of acceptance to talented, engaging individuals seeking an appointment to the medical school. Soon after the emails were sent, a technical error was discovered and the letters of acceptance were withdrawn by e-mail," wrote Mayo Clinic Spokeswoman Heather Carlson Kehren in a statement late Thursday night. "All affected applicants have been contacted by phone. We deeply regret having caused disappointment to these applicants, and we are continuing to investigate the issue."

The 50 accepted applicants have now all been notified. Those on the alternate list will continue to be notified through July, if space becomes available.

The chaotic situation spurred discussion among students in the "2019-2020 Mayo Clinic (Alix), Minnesota" online forum on the Student Doctor Network.

They posted the second email from Mayo Clinic that stated, "Due to a technical error the appointment letter was sent to you in error, and Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine hereby withdraws the offer to appoint you to the medical school. We regret that this occurred."

That message did not impress some of the students, who felt Mayo Clinic was not very contrite about the mistake.

"In my head, I thought there would be way more apologizing," wrote one poster. Another wrote, "Looking at their 'apology' email it's obvious that the plan is to sweep this under the rug."

One Twin Cities student contacted the Rochester Post Bulletin to discuss the issue on the condition that their identity remain anonymous.

"... The power imbalance between medical schools and applicants is egregious and this error only serves to highlight that. Applying to medical school is increasingly getting worse and worse (secondary app fees, flying out to interview costs, the time it takes to be notified of acceptances/waitlists/rejections)," the student wrote. "The least that one can ask for in this process is respect, and even that is a low priority for medical school admissions."


Discontent over the error spread to a discussion on, when the students organized a petition "to ship 500 boxes of expired mayonnaise to Mayo Clinic in honor of the 500 interviewees whose ‘Appointments’ (admissions) have expired."

The discussion on Student Doctor Network continued on Friday. Some students shared their stories of being "accepted" by Mayo Clinic and then being told it was a mistake.

"I literally ran down the halls of this prestigious academic institution yelling to everyone that I got into Mayo. I burst into my mentor's office and told him the news and he hugged me. I called other mentors and they immediately spread the news, resulting in me getting several texts congratulating me," wrote one poster. "The worst part about it was telling my mentor in person. He looked at me like how I'd imagine you'd look at a puppy who just got hit by a car ... It'll take me a while to get over this."

Some people were posting on the network that this was a simple error, and the strong reaction by the students was an example of entitlement. That sentiment spurred this response from a student:

"... If expecting competence and empathy from a medical school is 'entitlement' then I don't know that any of us are anything, but always entitled during this process."

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