Extracurriculars for Medical Schools: Complete Guide

August 17

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Are you looking for ways to make your medical school application stand out? 

One crucial factor that admissions committees consider is your extracurricular activities. 

To impress the committee, your extracurricular activities should showcase your commitment, emotional intelligence, and non-cognitive skills while also demonstrating your alignment with their expectations for a future physician.

Your extracurriculars can make all the difference in a field with fierce competition. Clinical exposure, research experience, and community involvement are just a few essential components that can help you stand out from other applicants.

This article will discuss what admissions committees look for in extracurricular activities. We'll also provide helpful advice on how to make your medical school application shine.

What are Extracurriculars, and Why are They Important for Medical School?

Almost any recreational action unrelated to studying or working for a living qualifies as an extracurricular activity. For example, it could be a pastime like dancing, playing an instrument, enjoying sports, or volunteering in the community.

Extracurricular activities are a crucial component of your university application and personal statement. They allow you to stand out from other students when the time comes for you to start considering possible university courses or medical schools.

Why do universities place such a high value on extracurricular activities? 

The reality is that universities and colleges must sift through many applications, including applicants with similar academic credentials.

Extracurricular activities are a great way for admissions personnel to learn more about you, your interests, and why you could be a good fit for their school. 

In addition, your extracurricular activities can help you stand out and show why you should be picked to study for that degree. This is even if you and another candidate have the same grades and qualifications.

Some colleges or medical schools may require you to participate in particular extracurricular activities, such as a predetermined number of volunteer work hours in the healthcare industry. It is so they can ensure you understand how much work goes into providing for others and have a passion for doing so.

What are the Extracurricular Activities for Medical School?

Medical schools can see through your extracurricular activities what makes you, you. Your personality, character, motives, and hobbies are more important than your grades and test results. In addition, it gives admissions committees a chance to learn more about you. 

It can be challenging to decide which extracurriculars are worthwhile for medical school, let alone which ones to list on your application. To help you choose, we have listed below the extracurricular activities you can engage in.

Extracurriculars for Medical School #1: Clinical Experience

While many significant extracurricular activities exist, clinical exposure is crucial when applying to medical school. In addition, clinical experience is a surefire method to show your commitment to the field.

It can be challenging to convince the admissions committee that you are serious about pursuing medicine without proof to support your convictions. 

However, the admissions committee can tell that you have taken the necessary steps to get a taste of the field through your work or volunteer experience in a clinical setting.

Extracurriculars for Medical School #2: Tutoring

A tremendous extracurricular activity for medical school is teaching or tutoring. Therefore, strong communication abilities are among the numerous attributes admissions committees look for in applicants. 

To be a doctor, you must speak efficiently and clearly. In addition, doctors must simplify complicated medical issues for people by breaking them down. 

Working as a mentor or teaching assistant improves your communication abilities and makes you a leader. Your tutoring students look up to you and rely on you to patiently lead them through the course material. 

As a result, you will probably pick up patience, compassion, and empathy — all traits medical schools look for in future doctors.

Extracurriculars for Medical School #3: Community Service

Your application as a future doctor must demonstrate your ambition and readiness to assist people. 

To be as accessible to their patients as possible, doctors often put in long hours, weekends, and on-call shifts. It frequently entails working through breaks, during lunch, and rescheduling personal obligations. 

Even though it can be demanding, being a doctor can be rewarding for those who sincerely want to serve others. Most people cite it as their motivation for choosing this vocation in the first place. Community service demonstrates your commitment to assisting others.

Extracurriculars for Medical School #5: Research

Research experience is a significant extracurricular to include in your application. It shows the admissions committee your interest in learning new things, curiosity about the unknowable, and drive for exploration. These are fantastic qualities you will use in your training for medical school.

Research is crucial if you wish to enroll in MD-PhD programs, where you will be trained to become a physician-scientist and need a strong enthusiasm for medicine and research. 

Gaining practical experience in testing hypotheses, interpreting results, writing reports, and contributing to publications is a good option. It will boost your application and enable you to choose the research you want to focus on.

Extracurriculars for Medical School #6: Hobbies

Naturally, medical schools are not only interested in more than extracurricular activities that connect to a candidate's intended future employment. Showcase a variety of activities as part of your admissions package if you want to stand out from the application crowd. 

Focus on the activities that best reflect your personality and skills when deciding the ones to highlight. For instance, you may leverage the fact that you edit your college newspaper to demonstrate your leadership and communication skills. 

Furthermore, suppose you participate in a college sport. In that case, you may mention this to show your superior ability to operate in a team.

5 Tips for Choosing the Best Extracurriculars for Medical Schools

When choosing the best extracurriculars for medical schools, choosing hobbies that are truly important to you first will be helpful. Consider its value if you still decide whether to include a specific activity. Have you learned anything from it? It might have motivated you to seek a career in medicine.

Here are a few things to consider while selecting the extracurricular activities to list on your medical school applications:

Be Yourself

Medical schools want to learn about the real you. They are not interested in getting to know a fake version of you because everyone is unique. 

What interests you? 

What motivates you? 

Why do you act in the ways that you do? 

When someone is sincerely interested in something, they are more inclined to pursue and continue with it. So, when deciding which activities to engage in, pick the ones you will love.

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Admissions committees know that some students only participate in a few extracurriculars to strengthen their application. 

As a result, some students make the mistake of participating in as many extracurricular activities for medical school as possible, believing that this will impress the committees. 

It is much more valuable to have two two-year-long research experiences rather than five three-week research experiences when it comes to extracurriculars for medical school. 

Focus on including high-quality activities where you demonstrate a significant time commitment.

Focus on the Importance of Experience.

Be sure to highlight the importance of the experiences you select and share your learnings. 

Did the experience change your mind about becoming a doctor or help you define the type of doctor you want to be?

How did that experience impact your views on diversity, healthcare, other cultures, etc.? 

What abilities did you acquire, and how may you use them medically? 

Give specific instances of critical interpersonal interactions to demonstrate the value of that experience.

Showcase Your Learning 

You must take the time to consider your experiences, explain why they were necessary, and share what you learned from them. 

Students frequently make the error of describing an incident in detail rather than applying the lessons they have learned.

Sharing your learnings from experience is crucial. You can tell you are mature enough to grasp your experiences, draw lessons from them, and carry that knowledge forward, good or bad.

Keep Track of Your Extracurricular Activities

Writing down your unforgettable experiences while participating in your extracurricular activities is the most excellent way to keep track of your extracurricular activities. It will serve as a fantastic memory jogger and provide ideas for your application essay. 

Additionally, keeping a few memorable anecdotes on hand when answering interview questions is usually a good idea.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When It Comes to Extracurriculars for Medical Schools

Aside from the tips above, it would help if you also remember the mistakes to avoid when choosing the extracurriculars for your medical school application.

Not Writing Well Enough

You need to write a job description when describing your extracurriculars for medical schools. 

For instance, if you work as a scribe, you cannot merely state that you worked at this hospital, saw the doctor or nurse practitioner, and recorded the patient interaction. 

A scribe's job is well-known to everyone. It is not your responsibility to describe your employment in the extracurricular description. Your responsibility is to discuss how you or the doctor helped the patient. 

The most incredible method to do this, if you can, is through a story. If you can recall when you saw a doctor in action and it influenced you, share that experience. Give more than a job description.

Including A Lot of Shadowing Experiences

Shadowing is a very passive activity. Consequently, when writing about shadowing, you may group them as an extracurricular activity. You cannot fill all 15 spaces with shadowing if you have shadowed 20 different physicians. 

Consider all 20 of these shadowing sessions as a single experience.

If you had a particular shadowing experience that was so fantastic and meaningful to you, feel free to discuss it separately. 

However, you can generally consolidate all your shadowings into a single extracurricular activity. Add up all of the hours. Enter one person's contact information in place of all the dates.

Adding Fluff in Your Extracurricular List

Different objects can take the form of fluff. One typical guideline is only to discuss extracurricular activities you engaged in after graduating from high school. 

Include any shadowing or clinical experience you may have had, even if it began in high school and went through college.

This is a mere filler if you include random activities with a few hours here and there. Both its impact and its memorability need to be improved. 

You most likely did not intend to discuss it; instead, you included it because you needed to fill up the space. Avoid this mistake.

Not Having Enough Clinical Experience

It would be best to surround yourself with patients. Consider the opportunity as a chance to demonstrate to yourself that doing this is what you want to accomplish.

Suppose you cared for your grandmother when she was ill or near the end of her life, and you enjoyed being around her. In that case, you might not enjoy being around someone else's grandmother. 

Taking care of your sick family members is significantly different from looking after the ill family members of another person. Therefore, the clinical experience will aid in your understanding.

The worst scenario is going through the entire premed and medical school procedure to discover that you do not enjoy caring for sick people. Hence, gaining clinical experience is necessary.

Not Being Consistent

If you volunteer, you must be consistent with your shadowing, clinical experience, and volunteering. 

Consistency is crucial. This demonstrates your commitment to this to the admissions committee for the clinically relevant aspects.

Whatever you do, just be consistent. When you provide the date ranges for your extracurricular activities, enter recent and reliable ones. This can significantly aid you in your application to medical school.

Additional FAQs – Extracurricular for Medical Schools: Complete Guide

Do I Need Volunteer Experience in Clinical and Non-Clinical Settings?

While it is unnecessary, gaining both kinds of experience is highly advised.

It is crucial to demonstrate that you have made a genuine effort to support your decision to pursue medicine. 

Prove to the admission committee that you are a well-rounded candidate committed to changing your community and the world.

How Many Extracurricular Hours Do I Need for Medical School Application?

Although some schools have minimum time requirements for tasks like shadowing, most do not. 

When applying somewhere with requirements, aim to have more hours than the required number.

Commit at least 100 to 150 hours each week to your extracurricular activities. However, there is no exact number, depending on each medical school. 

We advise you to research and visit the medical school website you are applying to.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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