December 18, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
In checking out the websites of different medical schools to determine their eligibility criteria for admission, you will find that some schools very clearly mention ‘medical extracurricular activities’ as one of the requirements whereas other schools don’t mention it. So does that mean that this is a requirement only for some schools? And what exactly do they mean by ‘medical extracurricular activities’?
To answer the second question first, medical extracurricular activities include any non-academic activity that you do to gain some insight and experience into the healthcare profession. This could be in the form of volunteering, shadowing, medical placements or mission trips.
Getting back to the first question, are these activities a requirement only for some medical schools? The truth is, whether med schools categorically mention it on their website or not, all schools will take it into consideration when short-listing students for admission. They may not say it out loud but medical extracurricular activities will play a major role in the final decision making.
There are several reasons. Two of the most compelling reasons are:
In addition, there is another reason why medical extracurricular activities are so important from the admissions point of view. During your interview you are sure to face the ultimate question – Why medicine or Why do you want to become a doctor? It is almost impossible to answer that question effectively without some kind of exposure to the medical field.
Any activity that allows you to get some kind of exposure to doctors or patients or a sneak-peek into the healthcare profession is counted as a medical extracurricular activity. It is up to you to decide exactly what you want to do but whatever it is, make it count because one thing is for sure – you will have to discuss it during your medical school interviews. Whatever activity you choose or get an opportunity to experience, the important thing is that you should be able to relate an in-depth story about your experiences and convince the interviewers about how it reinforced your decision to apply to medical school.
Don’t just look for the easiest thing to do so you can rack up the hours. When it comes to medical extracurricular activities, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity. You may have spent several months volunteering at a local nursing home but if you have nothing compelling to say about the experience, don’t expect the extended time to count for anything.