• Shaina Grover

Extracurriculars for Medical School

College applications are stressful, and applying to medical school is even more stressful. Colleges look for a plethora of things when considering applicants, but certain extracurriculars can help you stand out and increase your chances of being accepted. Extracurricular activities are activities that you do outside of to school. These activities can tell colleges a lot about you. Certain activities show dedication, while others reveal your leadership qualities.

Shadowing is required for students who plan to apply to medical school. Shadowing is following a doctor while they work in order to gain exposure in the medical field and to see what type of life a doctor has. Many schools have minimum requirements for how many hours you should spend shadowing a professional. Depending on the school, the amounts can vary. While some schools require as little as twelve hours of shadowing, some may require up to seventy-five. However, you should aim to shadow for more than the minimum requirement because it shows medical schools that you are dedicated to the field you have been shadowing in and that you have hands-on experience. . It is also a good way to see what interests you and to find out whether or not you’re good in the field you shadow.

Even before shadowing, it is highly recommended for pre-meds to volunteer at a hospital. However, make sure that you genuinely want to volunteer. . When talking about your volunteer experience, colleges will find out if you only volunteered so that it would look good on paper. The mindset you should have is that you are volunteering to make a difference and because you are passionate about something. There are many benefits of volunteering before applying to medical school, and making your medical school application stand out isn’t one of these benefits! If you volunteer at a hospital, you can get an idea of whether you really want to be a doctor. You can also get exposure to all aspects of medicine - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Medical school is hard work, and it’s easier to switch career paths before going to medical school if the medical field isn’t something you’re truly passionate about. Volunteering also allows you to give back to others and make a difference in their lives.

Internships are also a way to gain experience in the medical field and show medical schools that you are dedicated to the field. Through internships, you can gain hands-on experience, which is crucial for pre-med students. Often times, colleges offer summer internships, which do not interfere with your schedule during the school year. As a pre-med student, fellowships are also an option, where you learn directly under a professor.

Another activity you can invest your time in is research. Research can help you learn more about various fields of study, and it can also improve your critical thinking skills. Although it is a good idea to conduct medical-related research, it’s not necessary. You can also research any topic that interests you. By doing research and getting a research paper published, medical schools see your dedication to academics as well as your willingness to go above and beyond to learn outside of the classroom. Furthermore, if your name is on a research paper, even if it is the last name out of a list of twenty names, medical schools will notice and it will help your application to stand out. It shows that you are interested in research and will continue to do research even after being accepted. A major source of income for universities are research grants, so your future research will help the school as a whole.

Not everything needs to be done outside of school. Taking advantage of leadership opportunities and clubs at your school is just as important. By getting involved in the Associated Student Body, or ASB, you develop essential leadership skills that show colleges that you can be a valuable member of the school’s community. Getting involved proves that you can step up and take charge when necessary as being a leader is a trait many people in the medical field share. Other benefits include meeting new people, forming connections that can be useful later on, and your teamwork skills improve as well. Clubs are also a great way to express your passion for the medical field. Join clubs that relate to your specific pathway. Being in a leadership role for a club that relates to the medical field combines both of these into one!

Most students applying to medical school try to do one of these things or another, but going the extra mile and making sure you are passionate about what you are doing, can really make your application stand out!