The Importance of Clinical Exposure for Applications, Interviews, and Your Academic Career

April 1, 2014

Try before you buy is an enticing offer than many companies make. That’s why we love free sample; we get a small taste of a product before making a larger commitment.  In medicine, this is analogous to participating in a clinical experience as a pre medical or post bac student. You want to make sure that a medical career, with its steep financial investment and extensive time commitment, is worth its expense, and the best way to do that is through a clinical experience in your undergraduate years.  Here are three ways that a clinical experience can benefit you:

Enhance your medical school application: Medical school applications require a number of components to be considered competitive. A high GPA, especially in the required science coursework of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics, is highly desirable, as is an outstanding score on the MCAT. Your medical school application can be particularly enhanced by a clinical experience.  The experience shows that you have given thoughtful consideration to a career in medicine by getting hands-on work and participating in shadowing opportunities.  Your clinical experience is also likely to yield a letter of recommendation from your mentor as well.

Prepare for medical school interviews: A clinical experience allows you to interact with medical professionals and patients.  You’ll learn what it means to be a true medical professional by speaking the “language” of medicine and engaging in your initial development of Outside Iringa Regional Hospital in Tanzaniaa personal bedside manner. A clinical experience on your medical school application is more likely to yield an interview during the medical school admissions process. Committee members will see that you have taken the initiative to get behind the scenes of medicine and learn more about the realities of the profession.  They will be interested in your insights gained during your clinical experiences. Your interview will sound more authentic when you have experienced what the admissions committee has experienced. You’ll also know how to remain calm under pressure, the kind of pressure which will only intensify as you engage in your goal of becoming a physician.

Supplement your academic career: There is nothing like putting the theories you’ve learned in the classroom into practice. You’ll be able to apply your book and classroom learning to the realities of a clinical experience. You’ll discover where the books and your professors got it right and learn how different theory is from practice in the medical world. In addition, a clinical experience will help you identify any gaps in your knowledge and assist you in planning future academic undertakings.  For example, you may have a difficult time speaking in front of others during your clinical experience, and this discomfort will alert you to the fact that you’ll need to take a public speaking course in the near future.

You may discover, after completing your clinical experience, that medicine is not the field that you thought it was, and most importantly, that it is not the field for you.  This is certainly one of the benefits of a clinical experience, though we strongly recommend you try an additional clinical experience before ruling medicine out altogether. Since not all experiences are created equal, you may find that your passions lies in the next medical opportunity you undertake. — Post by Madelaine Kinsgbury.