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What extra-curricular activities look good on medical school application?

hello! I am currently going into my sophomore year of college and I want to know what are good extracurricular activities to get into that look good on medical school applications..... I know medical school is very competitive so what would help make my application stand out #medschool #pre-med #medschoolapplication #futuredoctor #doctor

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John’s Answer

Brooke the number of qualified students applying to medical school each year far exceeds the number of available seats. On top of that, among the pool of applicants are a great number who are the nation’s best and brightest students. So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that you’ll need far more than just grades and test scores to earn a coveted spot at one of the nation’s medical schools. Extracurricular activities give medical schools a chance to see what you’ve done during your pre-med years outside lecture halls and other than studying for the MCAT. More than ever before, medical school admissions committees are putting more emphasis on recruiting students who, beyond having a strong academic background, are balanced, well-rounded students who will be a good fit for their school.


MEDICAL/CLINICAL WORK EXPERIENCE – Why not take medicine for a test drive before committing the rest of your life to it? Aside from learning about what you like (and don’t like) about medicine, gaining work experience in a medical/clinical setting shows medical school admission committees that you’ve seen what it’s like to be a doctor, you’ve worked around them, you’ve gained a sense of what it is they do, and yes, your sure that this is what you want to do with your life. It will give you the opportunity to get a first-hand look at medicine and get a peek at what you’re options are. Having medical/clinical work experience is more for you than it is for medical schools, they want to know that you know what lies ahead along the road to becoming a doctor and the field of medicine overall.As a pre-med, there are tons of opportunities to engage in a medical/clinical experience and this also includes shadowing a physician, which will allow students to gain exposure to patients in a medical setting. By gaining a realistic view of the health profession through clinical experiences, you secure critical insight into why you are choosing a career in medicine. As an individual who plans to spend the rest of your life working in a clinical setting, there is no excuse for not having any experiences.

LEADERSHIP – Practicing your leadership skills in a specific role shows that you can take initiative. It will also develop the communication and collaboration skills necessary to be a doctor. While it will not guaranteed your acceptance, having a leadership role on your resume will help build your case for why you’re the one to pick.Many medical school look favorably upon applicants who have held leadership roles and some actually require applicants to have at least one leadership experience to apply. And it helps a lot if the school’s you are applying to are particularly big on leadership. So, the point is, if you’re applying to a school that is big on leadership, which is pretty much all medical schools, make sure that you’re able to show why you’ll be a perfect fit for their school.

VOLUNTEER – Voluntary work in your local community demonstrates that you care about contributing to society and the wellbeing of others. This is a much needed quality for a person whose job will be to ensure the wellbeing of people! Chances are, if you take a look at your top school’s web site, you’ll find that they are active and involved with community oriented service and projects. And in some cases, students are required to complete a certain number of hours of community service prior to graduation. With non-medical community service activities comes an experience that will truly demonstrate your commitment and dedication to something that will do nothing other than foster your selfless tendencies. Different from being involved in a medical-related community service activity, like volunteering at a hospital or during a community health fair, donating your time to something that has absolutely nothing to do with you says a lot – so, go ahead, rack up those hours, it will say a lot about your commitment to community and public service.

RESEARCH – Whether researching new surgical devices, eliminating disease, or examining the structure of a virus, breakthroughs in the medical field were not an accident; rather, they were the result of committed, systematic efforts to find out how things work. They were the result of research. Research opportunities are good extracurricular activities for medical school for a number of reasons. Firstly, they demonstrate a desire to discover and a commitment to finding answers. Secondly, medical schools are looking for candidates who are going to change the future of medicine. Doing research during undergrad or a gap year will demonstrate your potential to do so. Thirdly, doing your own research will help you learn how to interpret research, which is something you will need to be able to do in medical school and as a physician.

SHADOW A DOCTOR – If you personally know a doctor, this will be easier. Just ask if you can shadow them, and make sure you stick to their schedule to get the most out of it. If you don’t know any doctors, most teaching (university) hospitals will offer shadowing programs that you can apply for. Shadowing a physician means following him or her around during daily duties: sitting in during patient appointments, speaking with families, processing and interpreting lab tests, and generally seeing what the life of a physician is like.

Brooke medical school is extremely competitive. So naturally, getting worthy extracurricular positions are going to be competitive as well. It is not uncommon for students to apply to multiple hospitals, numerous labs, and countless clinics, all to find out that none desire his or her services. Due to this struggle, students often jump on the first opportunity they are presented with. Though at the time it might sound like a good idea, students should carefully consider whether accepting a particular job is in the students’ best interests. Life is short, and the time you have to prepare for medical school is even shorter. You need to maximum your potential by making sure that every hour you spend, is an hour well spent.

I hope this was Helpful Brooke

Thank You Aun for your continued support. Never give up on your dreams and your dreams will never give up on you. John Frick

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Brooke! I agree with the previous answers! Your extracurriculars should focus on medicine because medical schools want to know that you really are prepared for this field. By volunteering time with patients, shadowing a physician and research this can give you more experience into the life of a physician and medicine overall. Research is recommended but not required, if you'd like to research in the future and maybe even do a PhD with your MD then definitely do research and try to get a publication. In addition to clinical volunteering I would also recommend nonclinical, because you want to be balanced. Medical schools would like to see that you are contributing to other things besides medicine; for example you can volunteer in a soup kitchen, tutor, be a mentor, etc. It's really about committing though and doing what you love and what you can talk about as well. You want to build strong communications with individuals from different backgrounds and step out of your comfort zone. Also besides extracurriculars don't forget that if you have a part time job this can also help you; I am waitress and I interact with different individuals all the time in addition to strengthening my coordination and balancing my time. I gained a lot of experience in this job that I believe will help me in the future. Lastly, it's quality not quantity, if you do a couple of activities that you really commit to over time that will look more favorable in the eyes of the admissions committee than just checking off boxes for a short amount of time. I hope this helps! Stay committed and keep working hard!

Best of luck!

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Christina’s Answer

Hi Brooke! As you think about your extracurricular involvement, consider the following:

-Healthcare Experience: Confirm your passion by gaining direct experience in your field of interest and articulate your motivations for pursuing it! Shadow a healthcare professional in your field of interest, conduct informational interviews with healthcare professionals, gain direct patient care exposure (Medical Scribe, EMT, CNA, etc.,) pursue healthcare internships or administrative positions, and build your network by participating in summer programs (Doctors of Tomorrow, SHPEP, etc.)

-Research: Engage in research experiences and projects to expand your knowledge base, enhance critical thinking, and contribute to your field. Consider participating in faculty-mentored research at your school by outreaching to faculty, apply to Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) through the National Science Foundation, and explore undergraduate research programs at universities across the United States.

-Leadership & Professional Development: Take on a leadership role and/or professional opportunity to set you apart and showcase your transferable skills. Explore leadership positions at your school (Resident Assistant, Orientation Leader, Admissions Ambassador, Student Government, etc.) Apply for on-campus job. Take on a leadership position through a club or start a new club on campus.

-Community Involvement: Get involved in community initiatives to showcase your commitment and passion for serving others. Volunteerat a local hospital, clinic, nursing home, hospice, and/or private practice. Participate in a medical mission trip (MEDLIFE) Volunteer at a local non-profit organization or become a community mentor/leader (Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Special Olympics,etc.)

Whatever you decide to pursue, think about how your involvement relates to the below questions:
-What is your WOW FACTOR?
-What sets your application apart?
-How have you gone ABOVE and BEYOND in your pursuit of a healthcare career?

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Estelle’s Answer

John gave a great and complete answer. To reiterate, make sure you have strong shadowing experience and strong letters of recommendation. Any volunteering at clinics is valuable. Medical mission trips are also good experiences that can be discussed during medical school interviews.

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Laura’s Answer

Hi Brooke!

In my opinion, the following extra curricular activities would look great in your medical school application.

1. Research: Involvement in scholarly or scientific research. Believe this can be part of a class assignment.
2. Volunteering
3. Leadership: Including but not limited to committee roles in student organizations, class projects.
4. Practical experience: This can include shadowing a physician, any hands on experience with patients (perhaps during volunteering).

Hope this helps!