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When applying to medical school, how many volunteer/internship hours should be completed?

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John’s Answer

In the end, the total number of hours shouldn’t be your focus. Instead, you should be focused on making a long-term commitment to a volunteering opportunity that you’re passionate about. Your first focus should be making sure your volunteering enriches your life. If this is the case, you’ll log enough hours for your medical school application without any problem.

Medical schools are looking for people who care. When you submit your medical school application’s volunteering section, you’ll illustrate that you have more than book smarts. You’re a human being whose levels of altruism, compassion, and selflessness are insurmountable. In addition, volunteering lets you work with people within your community. You’ll learn how to communicate, work on a team, and take control as a leader. Medicine is a field filled with competitive and high-achieving people, so community involvement helps to set yourself apart. When you volunteer, you’ll garner a host of benefits. You’ll learn more about yourself and what you care about. You’ll build substantial, long-lasting relationships with other people. You’ll reaffirm the reasons why you chose being a doctor, have a sense of purpose, gain new experiences, and give back to your community. Your perspective will broaden, and you’ll receive the skill building you need to become a truly wonderful physician.

When you’re doing service work, the quality of the work far outweighs the quantity. You should be taking the time to reflect on the lessons learned and the affirmations you’ve had throughout your journey. Don’t be focused on the rote method of logging hours. You should be taking the opportunity to discover where your passions lie. Service work isn’t a race. You shouldn’t focus solely on hours logged as you hope to impress an admission committee member. Instead, think of your volunteer work as a way of growing, exploring, and discovering who you are as an individual. It’s a piece of the ever-evolving journey of self-discovery. You’ll find out what you’re capable of while you pursue your passions. You’ll also be making a true difference in your community and changing lives. The service work you do should be based on personal choice. It should reflect your ethos and include a mandate that you believe in. You should look forward to it more than any other part of your day. If your chosen activity for exploration feels like something you’re simply “tolerating” rather than enjoying, look for volunteer work that’s a better fit.

There’s no exact formula for volunteer work on medical applications, especially if the activity is something that matters deeply to you. That said, Most medical schools will want you to cite a minimum of 36 to 40 hours of volunteer work within your community. However, you don’t want to be at the bare minimum when you’re applying for medical school. The application process is extremely competitive, and if you only meet the bare minimum requirements, you might be overlooked. The average for students applying to average medical schools is 100 hours. This should be your minimum aim if you want to make your application competitive. To stand out from the crowd, you might want to log significantly more than 100 hours, especially if you’re applying to top-rated, highly competitive medical schools.

Same goes for Internships Zemira

Thank you! Zemira M.

Your Welcome Zemira. Believe you can and you’re halfway there. John Frick

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Grace’s Answer

None of the schools I've seen have a required number of hours, but I believe it's recommended that you have more than 100 hours to be competitive. You can also volunteer at multiple places! My friend volunteers at a hospital most of the time, but she'll also volunteer at animal shelters occasionally!

Thank you very much! Zemira M.

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Estelle’s Answer

You've gotten great advice so far. I recommend a diverse shadowing/volunteer/internship portfolio. Shadow a variety of physicians and volunteer at a clinic or shelter or food bank, for example. Grace's idea of an animal shelter is great, too!