How to Choose the Best Extracurricular Activities for Medical Schools?

November 22

Table of Contents

To get into medical school, you must possess the necessary qualities, such as good morals, ethical values, academic success, and sincere perseverance. However, it would help if you also devoted time and effort to extracurricular activities. 

By looking at your extracurricular activities, the admissions committee can tell if you have the necessary non-cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and commitment to manage the demands of medical school. 

Medical school extracurriculars can help you stand out from the competition and demonstrate your excellence outside of the classroom in a field with intense applicant rivalry.

In this article, we are sharing the best tips on choosing the best extracurricular activities to participate in as you prepare for your medical school application.

If you are interested, please keep reading.

Why Do Extracurricular Activities Matter?

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

Extracurricular activities are crucial to your university application and personal statement, allowing you to stand out from other students.

Admissions officers will look for applicants who have proven their educational prowess and extra responsibilities over time to ensure they have grown personally and served others. Your commitment will make you stand out from the competitors.

How to Choose the Best Extracurricular Activities for Medical Schools?

When looking for extracurricular activities to list on your medical school CV, it is common to feel overwhelmed. 

The good news is that there are ways to narrow your emphasis and select the extracurriculars that will likely make an impression on admissions committees. 

Selecting activities that are actually essential to you first will be beneficial. If you are not optimistic about including an action, ask yourself if it is worthwhile. Has it taught you any lessons?

It might have increased your awareness of your desire to pursue a profession in medicine.

As many students find it difficult, listed below are a few things to consider when choosing the extracurricular activities to put on your medical school applications.

Avoid Using the "Jack of All Trades" Approach

You do not need to gather every extracurricular activity the medical school offers. However, it would be best to devote much time to each extracurricular activity because the admissions committee seeks commitment.

One week of overseas service with a nomadic group is not noteworthy enough experience to list on your application. 

Even though it may have been a wonderful experience for you, participating for only one week does not demonstrate your devotion and dedication.

Therefore, it is crucial to choose your activities carefully. It is best not to include them if they are not significant, helpful to your development, or vital to your quest for a medical degree. 

The admissions committee is conscious of applicants who only check something off their list instead of applicants who do things out of passion and with significant time and effort invested.

Follow Your Interests

Make sure to engage in extracurricular activities that support your hobbies, objectives, and principles. For example, it is a great idea to acquire some experience in pediatrics if that is a field you are interested in.

For instance, you could work or volunteer at adoption centers, daycare centers, summer camps, and schools. 

If you are interested in emergency medicine, acquiring some significant experience, like working as an emergency medical technician or observing a doctor in the ER, is an excellent idea.

Just be careful not to choose experiences that you think the admissions committee wishes to see at random. 

No set of experiences is always the best to include because every individual is unique, and their experiences will reflect that. Choosing the experiences that are best suitable for you is crucial.

Pay Attention to Extracurricular Activities You Pick

Only extracurricular activities that you have demonstrated a significant commitment of time should be listed. The admissions panel will not be pleased if you name finishing as a hobby if you have only done it three times. 

A few two-year commitments to a particular endeavor will always be preferable to eight separate two-month responsibilities.

Additionally, pick interests that you can confidently debate and reflect on. 

You should be able to talk about the lessons you learn from your interests and how they help you grow when you write about them.

Show That You Have the Ability to Think Back on Your Experiences

One of the most significant aspects of recreational activities for medical school is your capacity for reflection on your experiences, not just what you have done. 

Making an inventory of all the extracurricular activities you participated in is insufficient.

It is crucial to always answer this question when completing your medical school applications: 

  • What did you take away or learn from your experience?
  • What makes it essential? 
  • How will this benefit you and your classmates while in medical school?
  • How will this affect your ability to practice medicine?

The most frequent interview questions for medical school will ask you to describe your extracurricular activities, so be prepared to do so succinctly and clearly.

Be Direct

Avoid beating around the bush. Instead of talking about insignificant details, get right to the lessons you learned from a recreational activity. 

The admissions committee read hundreds…if not thousands, of applications. Do not waste their precious time. 

For instance, discussing your leadership skills by recounting how you prevailed in basketball against a strong opponent is more persuasive than concentrating on how you first became interested in the sport.

What are the Best Extracurricular Activities for Medical Schools?

Medical schools naturally want to know that the applicants they admit have strong academic credentials. 

However, selective schools consider factors other than grades and test results when selecting applicants. 

Schools want to ensure applicants have a genuine enthusiasm for the field because a medical career entails a lot of stress and hard work. 

Medical schools also want to know that applicants can manage challenging circumstances, such as dealing with difficult patients or disappointing research results. 

Before applying to a school, you should try to build a powerful extracurricular profile. 

The following list of extracurricular activities includes some categories medical schools look for when choosing applicants.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #1: Clinical Experience

While many significant extracurricular activities exist, clinical exposure is crucial when applying to medical school. 

Clinical experience is a surefire method to show your commitment to the field. Provide proof to support your convictions to convince the admissions people that you are keen on pursuing medicine and have given it much thought.

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. This is crucial for your personal development as well as for your admittance. Without being a part of that atmosphere, how else can you understand what it will be like to be a doctor?

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #2: Research Experience

Research experience is, without question, a huge plus for your medical school application. This extracurricular activity reveals enough about your curiosity, willingness to engage in intensive study, critical analysis, interest in learning new information, keen eye for discoveries, and, most importantly, your desire to put in a lot of effort to pursue your passion. 

Prospective medical students must develop a certain degree of research proficiency and polish their writing abilities. 

Participating in research allows you to use your skills by conducting surveys, writing industry reports, and contributing to important publications. These acts actively influence the state of medicine in your nation.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #3: Community Engagement

Your desire to assist those in need is among the primary motivations for becoming a doctor.

By prioritizing others, you show the admissions committee that you are genuinely interested in medicine. But, of course, it would be ideal if you were genuinely committed to managing and serving other people's well-being.

You have a variety of jobs you can play in the community. For example, depending on your area of interest, you could volunteer in society and government hospitals, clinical wards, retirement homes, and special care facilities. This demonstrates your overall viewpoint in comprehending the community and paying close attention to enhancing the community's well-being.

Additionally, if you are enthusiastic about serving underserved or disadvantaged communities, concentrate on volunteering at shelters, adoption organizations, youth-at-risk programs, or mental health organizations. 

Most experiences in the medical field indicate personal and professional development, so there is no right or wrong way to choose community service.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #4: Teaching and Tutoring

The admissions committee will look for some non-cognitive abilities when evaluating your application; many of these can be proven through teaching experience.

Working as a tutor or teaching aide may have allowed you to hone your leadership abilities, strong communication skills, and empathy for struggling students. These same abilities will serve you well in your future as a doctor.

For instance, you will need to speak clearly with your patients to teach them how to manage and improve their health. 

You must be able to explain treatment plans and diagnoses and respectfully engage in dialogue about beliefs and views that differ from yours.

Furthermore, empathy and compassion are necessary traits because they will be helpful in your daily encounters with patients.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #5: Personal Interests and Hobbies

Everyone has various passions and interests, so it does not matter what hobbies you choose. Instead, it is essential to take the road less traveled. Engage in activities you love and will help you advance and hone your non-cognitive abilities.

Personal extracurricular activities help demonstrate to the admissions committee who you are, what attracts you, what drives you, and how the lessons you learned can be applied in medical school.

For instance, being a part of a sports team may frequently demand you to communicate effectively, maintain composure, and cooperate to get the best results. 

Reading, writing, or even learning a musical instrument can assist you in keeping your cognitive abilities, which are necessary for comprehending and recalling new information.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #6: Summer School

A great extracurricular exercise for medical students is summer school attendance. What is a better way to demonstrate your commitment to medicine than to immerse yourself in an engaging course over the summer?

You can build a medical information foundation and apply it to real-world issues in summer courses, which typically last two weeks. This is similar to what you would do in your first year of medical school.

A completion certificate and a letter of reference from your tutor are also provided when you complete one of the medical summer schools as evidence of your progress. 

In their personal statements and future applications to universities, many students use this to demonstrate their commitment to the medical field.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #7: Leadership Roles

Future medical professionals must excel at managing others. Aside from holding formal positions in student organizations and clubs, leaders should be able to exert effort and direct others in various situations, such as research labs, volunteer groups, and classrooms.

Show that you have been a leader in at least three different events if you want to stick out as a candidate. 

Remember that leadership can manifest itself in various ways, and "titles" are not always necessary.

Extracurricular Activity for Medical School #8: NCS and DoE

Participating in an official program, such as the National Citizen Service or The Duke of Edinburgh Award, is another excellent way for students to enhance their skill set and please prospective medical admissions officers. 

You can give specific examples to show how these programs have helped you develop personally and helped you decide to major in a field that will commit you to a lifetime of service to others.

For instance, describe how the DofE Award gave you a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to work in a hospice or care facility and assist those who are clinically weak and how this has confirmed your future plans. 

You could also talk about how learning a new skill, like sign language, has improved your skill set and prepared you for a future job as a doctor.

But in addition to the clear benefits of participating in official programs like these, you will also gain incredible experiences and develop teamwork skills. Scavenger hunts, community service, and even the development of a passion project are all things you can anticipate. 

They can be good chances that allow you to interact with others, learn new skills, and grow into a more well-rounded, diligent student.

Additional FAQs – Choosing the Best Extracurricular Activities for Medical Schools

Can I Not Include Extracurricular Activities on My Medical School Application?

Extracurricular pursuits provide medical schools with a window into your personality. 

Your character, motivations, and interests extend beyond your academic performance and test results. It allows admissions committees to get to know you better as a person, not just as an applicant.

You should participate in recreational activities before applying to medical school if you want a good chance of getting in.

What Extracurriculars Does Harvard Like?

For Harvard, there is no right or wrong extracurricular endeavor. Follow your passions. You do not have to participate in extracurricular activities just because you read or heard that Harvard favors particular kinds, such as only sports or athletics.

The main objective is to demonstrate that you are not just a typical student who lacks passion, receives mediocre grades, and wastes their spare time. 

Examine your distinct qualities by analyzing your strengths. Find out what you genuinely appreciate and where your strengths are rather than trying too hard to change who you are. 

Accept your personality, and let your extracurricular activities help you develop a distinct character.

How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need?

Savvy medical school applications typically list 8–10 extracurricular pursuits. Though it might seem like a lot, most activities are only done occasionally. 

The most crucial point is that quality is always preferable to quantity.

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

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!