Compassion Counts in Your Medical School Application

January 9, 2015

Having an outstanding academic record is an almost universal requirement for admission into any professional school. But when it comes to applying to medical school, there is one additional qualification that the interviewers will be looking for, and that is compassion.  Medical schools look for students who not only have the potential to excel academically but who also show that they are genuinely caring and will provide compassionate, attentive care to their patients.  

Sure, all medical schools want students who are smart and excel academically. After all, the curriculum is rigorous and students need to be able to cope with the academics. However, interviewers also know that being academically outstanding is not the only criterion for becoming a doctor. A good doctor is someone who understands the value of compassion when dealing with their patients.

How Do Your Demonstrate Your Compassion?

The difficult thing about trying to demonstrate that you really are compassionate is that there is no yardstick to measure this by. Does spending one day helping doctors at a medical facility prove that you are compassionate or do you need to do more? Unlike assessing your academic achievements, which are quite plain to see, there is no one straightforward answer when it comes to determining your compassion quotient.

Being compassionate means being kind, empathetic, generous and concerned. When you put in your application and even during your interview, the school authorities will look for several signs that will speak about your genuine compassion.

There are several things you can do to develop this trait and show the medical schools’ admission committees that you have what it takes to become a compassionate doctor.

  • Spend time in some volunteer activity: There are several non-profit organizations that help care for the sick. These organizations are almost always short-staffed and would welcome an extra pair of hands. Volunteering is a great way to see if this is really the right profession for you and if it is, it will add tremendous weight to your application too.
  • Shadow a doctor for a few days: Ask your family doctor if you can shadow him while he goes about his rounds. If for any reason that is not possible, several hospitals actually offer this facility to pre-med students  as a step-in to the medical field.  Check around with the hospitals nearer home and apply to them for a shadowing opportunity.
  • Register with a company that organizes overseas medical placements: Organizations that have tie-ups with hospitals in third world countries make arrangements for pre-med students to spend a few weeks not just shadowing doctors in that hospital but also offering them a much-needed helping hand.

What is important is that your application should mention something beyond just one sentence mentioning that you volunteered at a local hospital or you did an overseas placement. You should give actual details of your experience and talk at length about how it helped you grow and develop in different ways. 

Explaining a bit more about your different experiences and how it helped you become a more compassionate person will help your uniqueness shine through  and will move your application over to the accepted file.