If you're applying for a career in healthcare you need to remember that your extracurriculars can set you apart from the other applicants the way numbers and scores cannot. In fact, according to the Princeton Review students who are productively engaged during the their time off school have an advantage during the medical school application process. Why's this? Well, involvement in extracurricular activities rounds out your application and portrays qualities such as leadership, dedication, and collaboration. It is easy to declare that you wish to help people as a doctor, midwife, dentist or nurse on your application, but backing it up it through dedication of your time and energy does much more to reassure a university admissions committee.
In this article, we'll go through four ways in which you can spend your time productively in order to strengthen your medical school applications (and no, watching Grey’s Anatomy re-runs is not on the list).
1. Get Medical Work Experience
A key factor in any med school application (besides academic requirements) is the amount and quality of clinical experience an applicant has. Most students gain clinical experience by volunteering in hospitals or shadowing physicians. Your clinical experience will give you an accurate and in-depth insight into life of a healthcare professional as you will:
- Develop a deep understanding of the role of a doctor, midwife, nurse or dentist.
- Understand the different roles in a hospital and how they work together in a multi-disciplinary team
- Acquire an understanding of how interdepartmental coordination works in the treatment of a patient
Acquiring clinical experience is very competitive due to limited spaces available so its working checking out certain companies such as Medical Projects, that specialise in providing pre-medical, dentistry, midwifery and nursing courses.
2. Travel Abroad
Not only is traveling abroad fun, it is also an impressive quality in the eyes of admissions officers and it allows you to gain clinical, volunteer and language experience simultaneously. Becoming involved in experience in another country demonstrates you have courage, adaptability, and enhanced global awareness. You will find yourself out of your normal comfort zone and become exposed to different ways of working and cultures.
For those pursuing a career in medicine, midwifery, nursing or dentistry it is common knowledge that your portfolio and application should include volunteer work directly related to the field of study or career field. Many med schools have stated that it is imperative that the admitted student has several months’ worth of volunteer experience in their medical field, for it “demonstrates a consistent ongoing patter of passion for medicine.” There are many opportunities where a young, ambitious pre-med student can volunteer. Clinical experience is a plus! Working and volunteering at clinics and hospitals, shadowing physicians and even extending services to labs that need assistance really adds to your application and your story.
4.Pick Up A New Hobby And Stick To It
A common mistake that candidates make during their application is to leave out experiences that don’t directly pertain to medicine. These extra-cirriciular activities still help shape the student’s character and interests. Experiences such as athletics, musical talents, and hobbies allow small windows into an applicant’s life and demonstrate a healthy sense of balance.
Extracurricular activities provide opportunity to develop interpersonal skills that are vital to being a good doctor. Qualities such as public speaking, communication and empathy are not learned from textbooks, they are learned from interacting with real people in real situations. An applicant who has dedicated years to one endeavor with true enthusiasm will catch the eye of admissions committees across the nation, much more so than an applicant who has only tried to follow a formula by becoming only marginally involved in multiple activities. Being passionate about one extracurricular activity demonstrates commitment and responsibility, which translate perfectly over into the field of medicine. That passion that you possess and express is how you will stand out on your application, during your interviews, and throughout medical school. So pick up a new hobby this summer and stick to it.
School holidays often leave ambitious students baffled about how to spend their time. But, as you can see, there are a lot of ways you can spend it that doesn’t involve being quarantined in a classroom or with your nose shoved in a book! Research these opportunities and figure out which is the best option to fit your schedule. I know that some students are in a position where they have to take whatever positions they can get, but if you have the means and opportunities to participate and do what you love it makes the experience so much better!