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*~*~*~*Tips for Entering your "Work and Activities" in AMCAS*~*~*~*

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by CougarMD, Apr 16, 2011.

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  1. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    Well, it is that time of year again!

    The AMCAS Application will be opening soon, and with it comes a ton of questions. The "Work and Activities" Section is probably the most talked about section. We have an old Pre-Allo thread that can be found here, but because that thread is 5 years old, and has gotten cumbersome, the Pre-Allopathic Volunteer Staff decided to start a new thread.

    All new threads dealing with this topic in Pre-Allo will be merged into this thread.

    In the first few posts, the Moderation staff will be compiling a FAQ and some helpful posts from the old thread. Please be patient with us as this is a work in progress. Any suggestions for the FAQ or older (lengthy) helpful posts from users is appreciated.

    REMINDER: Each thread has a search function. Please use it.

    This thread is brought to you by the Pre-Allopathic Volunteer Staff. Ask away, and good luck!!
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  2. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

    This FAQ is a work in progress. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.


    Work and Activities FAQ


    1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?
    This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.


    2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
    - Paid employment (not military)
    - Paid employment (military)
    - Community service / volunteer (not medical / clinical)
    - Community service / volunteer (medical / clinical)
    - Research / lab
    - Teaching / tutoring
    - Honors / awards / recognitions
    - Conferences attended
    - Presentations / posters
    - Publications
    - Extracurricular / hobbies / avocations
    - Leadership (not listed elsewhere)
    - Intercollegiate athletics
    - Artistic endeavors
    - Other

    3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
    Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a tutor, you may want to list this as both a Leadership Activity, and Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

    Some examples of things to list in each category:

    Leadership
    -Camp counselor
    -Student activism/government/Greek activities
    -Starting a non-profit/student organization

    Honors/Awards/Recognitions
    -Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
    -Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.

    Community Service - Medical/Clinical
    -As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

    Community Service - Non-medical/Clinical
    -If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
    -Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

    Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

    4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
    Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

    A - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

    B - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

    C - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

    You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

    Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:

    Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non-Military

    Starbucks Barista - August 2007 - May 2008

    -Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
    -Worked 20 hours per week while attending school full time

    Paid Intern - Summer 2008
    -Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
    -Responsible for...
    -Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class

    Grocery Store Worker - August 2008 - May 2010
    -Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
    -Worked 30 hours per week while attending school full time
    -Responsible for....


    By using this method, you are able to save 2 spaces in the Work/Activities section, but still are able to show that you have significant work experience and experience juggling a job and school.

    5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college?
    Work experience is ABSOLUTELY important for you to list. There is a fantastic thread about this topic here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=813497

    The short version: the work/activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

    6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
    Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

    Again, a good trick for entering activities is to have a catch-all category like "Academic Recognition" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't want to emphasize.

    7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section?

    General thoughts about this say that no, AdCom members do not contact these people. However, the application has changed this year to ask for a phone number for a contact. It is unclear whether or not this will change the answer to this question. If anyone finds out any information about this, please feel free to post it in this thread.

    8. Most Meaningful Activities (Submitted by sector9)
    It is difficult to have definitive answers about the use of this new feature on AMCAS since this is the first year. These answers are a summary of the opinions available from admission committee members Catalystik and/or LizzyM

    8a. Is it bad if I don't have three activities to mark as "Most Meaningful"?
    You are only obliged to list one activity as most meaningful. It's impossible to know what the average will be.

    8b. What happens if I wrote about my most meaningful activities in my personal statement?

    It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
    1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful". You only have to pick one as "Most Meaningful".
    2. Rework your personal statement. You can use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

    8c. Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
    It is best to use the box as AMCAS suggests on the application. Since this is a new feature, it is impossible to know how applicants will use the additional space at this point.

    Other Questions To Be Answered:

    If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?

    What category should I list Physician Shadowing under?

    How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?

    Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?

    Should I list something that I am doing in the future but haven't started yet?

    How do I answer the "average hours per week" for this activity question when I did a different number of hours each week?

    How should I list publications? What if some of them are "submitted" but not actually accepted yet?

    What if I have work experience that is also clinical experience (working as a phlebotomist in a hospital, etc)? How should I list it?

    How far back should I go listing activities?

    How should I go about naming an activity?
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2011
  3. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    Helpful Posts from SDN Users (To be continually updated)
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  4. excitedneuron

    excitedneuron

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    Hello!

    I have a lot of work/activities (due to being a non-trad) and was thinking about lumping some together so I can fit them all. For instance, all my non-clinical volunteering will go in one section. All my clinical volunteering will go in another. My shadowing activities will not have its own section but will be described with other activities where appropriate.

    Do adcoms take a very close look at this section and thoroughly read through each description? Or do they simply look at the title and move on?

    I'm just worried that with all the thousands of applications they read, they'll miss out on quite a few things with the current way my work/activities section is formatted.

    Thanks!

    EN
  5. medzealot

    medzealot Best closer in NY Gold Donor

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  6. StudyShy

    StudyShy XOXO

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  7. longwhorn

    longwhorn MS0!!

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    I was a non traditional applicant also and I was asked about the work section of my application in every interview. I'd go all out on this portion because this is what makes you different than the rest of the stack. Good luck.
  8. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    Lump together as much as you can to save space, but don't skip out on descriptions that are NECESSARY to describing the activity. You don't need to spend a lot of time describing what shadowing is. But if you've been part of a particularly unique activity or it's not entirely obvious what you did in a particular activity, definitely provide as much explanation as possiblee.
  9. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel

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    You also could leave some stuff out. Not everything needs to make it into your amcas. Lump some together but maybe consider not mentioning some things that are less significant.
  10. excitedneuron

    excitedneuron

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    Thanks guys!

    You've all been super helpful. From your comments, I'm glad to hear that adcoms do take a careful look at what's written in the description box.

    EN
  11. medzealot

    medzealot Best closer in NY Gold Donor

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    This is really important. If you use all of the character limit just to list items, you haven't helped yourself much.

    You want to include some description of, and more importantly, reflection on the item, what you learned, etc...not just what it was and what you did.

    This is also some of the best advice you'll get. Only say what is necessary; be as concise as you can without losing your message. Saying way more than you need to dilutes your application (...that's bad).
  12. Seven of Nine

    Seven of Nine

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    at one of my interviews, it was clear they read every. single. word. of my application.

    the one interviewer brought up a detail of a light-hearted job i once held. this is a really bad story because i don't want to go into further detail. but i just wanted to say it pleasantly surprised and entertained me that they clearly did not take their role lightly :thumbup::thumbup::laugh:
  13. excitedneuron

    excitedneuron

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    hmm...I see, so not too much like a resume.

    I was originally planning on writing just a short blurb for some activities, such as multiple volunteer tutoring/mentoring jobs I have had in the past (~2-3hr/week commitment).

    So, instead of that, should I include both the short blurb and reflect upon it (i.e. how much mentoring kids mean to me)? Would it be detrimental if I didn't reflect and kept it more as a "resume-type" format (i.e. short and sweet descriptions)?

    I was under the impression that secondaries are where I reflect upon my activities.

    Thanks again guys!
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  14. medzealot

    medzealot Best closer in NY Gold Donor

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    If you have time, watch the first 17 minutes of this webinar. Or skip to about 9:30 and watch for a few minutes. It's advice from the dean of admissions at Washington University, take it or leave it, just one med school.

    http://mediasite.hs.washington.edu/Mediasite/Viewer/?peid=5092d8383fdd42a98bb00ae464dfe643
  15. excitedneuron

    excitedneuron

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  16. chidoman

    chidoman

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    The same thing happened during my interviews. One of them sat with me and ONLY talked about my jobs and the church service I did before I decided to be "pre-med". They like well rounded individuals so you should sell what you got to em.
  17. longwhorn

    longwhorn MS0!!

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    Agreed. I would say the sole topic of every interview I had was related to the descriptions included with my work experience. I came from a finance background and although it had nothing to do with medicine, all the interviewers seemed to be fascinated. Very glad I included lots of detail there, I really believe it accounts for my success.

    Good luck. :thumbup:
  18. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    Merging related threads. Good luck!
  19. BurghStudent

    BurghStudent lurker

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    Quick question, how do you differentiate between community service - medical and clinical experience? Which do you put where, hospital volunteering, shadowing etc?
  20. kansaskid

    kansaskid too school for cool

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    From what I gather you really shouldn't list shadowing as clinical volunteering unless you actually did something helpful. It's not really volunteering if you just follow a doc around all day. I think it's been put under "other" in the past? Hospital volunteering would be clinical volunteering if you interacted with patients (as per LizzyM's sig!). If you just did clerical stuff I think you'd have to list it as non medical. Hope this helps!
  21. glikegrandpa

    glikegrandpa gin & tonic and chronic

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    I wanted to know the general opinion of this "Most Significant Activity" shenanigans. I know we're allowed up to 3, but does anyone think it would be disadvantageous if we only designated one as the "Most Significant Activity"? I say this because I have this huge long-term volunteer/leadership/clinical experience (yes, all of them combined) activity that I'm currently doing and it is the one most important deciding factor in my desire to pursue med school. Everything else seems like small change in comparison.

    Most other activities I can describe pretty fully within the 700 characters, but this one I actually NEED the 1325 extra just to talk about duties and responsibilities before even getting into the feelings kind of stuff. So. Would it look stupid if I only chose one activity as most significant?

    Also, I'm shooting for some research-heavy schools and have 4 semesters of it to back up my decision, but the last semester was during my 3rd year of college, and I am now 2 years removed from this experience. I AM interested in research, and I do really rudimentary baseline stuff here, but the fact is my formal research experience ended 2 years ago and I can't talk about it in the detail I would have been able to 2 years ago (in the detail most adcoms would like to see). Would it be a docked point if I don't list research as a most significant (I'm kind of starting to hate that phrase, even within this post) activity if I'm shooting for these schools?
  22. TheRealAngeleno

    TheRealAngeleno

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    Hey guys so how would I list the contact information for some of the school clubs that I was involved with? Would I just give out someones phone number that was also involved with the club?
  23. glikegrandpa

    glikegrandpa gin & tonic and chronic

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    The AMCAS 2012 instructions say either phone OR email will do. In the case of a club, if you can't get your faculty supervisor, get someone on the board (President, VP, etc) which will probably look more legit than just a random member.

  24. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    1) No. Most applicants don't use nearly all the space available to them.

    2) If you are applying to research giants, it would probably be more politically correct to designate the Research as Most Significant and to put substantive detail in the description, even if it means going back, looking at old notes, reviewing resulting pubs derived from that or similar work, talking to the PI, or whatever it takes to be able to discuss your research is detail with a depth of understanding and explain it to others without the same science background. I don't know that you'll be "docked a point" for not using Most Significant designation, but without all the rest you will be at a disadvantage, at least at the strong research institutions.
  25. Ost3oclast

    Ost3oclast It's Teh Internetz Dood! Gold Donor

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    All the clinical experience I have came from paid employment (worked over 1,300 hours at a PT clinic as a PT tech with direct patient contact everyday). From what I understand, clinical experience on the AMCAS should be listed under medical volunteering correct?

    Since I was paid for this work it doesn't count as medical volunteering and other than that work experience, I have no volunteer patient contact. So when I put down my clinical experience on the AMCAS I wouldn't put anything in the "clinical experience" section correct? And just save it for the work experience section? I'm worried that adcoms will see that I have no "clinical experience" before reading my work section and completely disregard me as an applicant. What do you guys think?
  26. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    1) No, only if it was volunteer clinical experience would you list it under "Community Service/Volunteer-Medical/Clinical".

    2) You will list your patient experience under "Employment-Nonmilitary". You will name the activity "Physical Therapy Tech (or something like that)," and go on to describe exactly how you interacted with your patients. Your PS will probably refer to this experience, too. It will be clear that you've 'smelled patients.'

    Hopefully, you will list something altruistic under "Community Service/Volunteer-Not Medical/Clinical" in addition to the above, as well as Physician Shadowing under "Other."
  27. Signifier

    Signifier

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    In this line, I was wondering: is it a good idea to enter one activity called "Hobbies" or something, and put guitar, running, hiking and writing etc. in there together?
  28. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    I'd enter it under the most time-consuming hobby that has a contact, and then list all the others under it with timeframes of involvement, hours per week or month, etc.
  29. SilentSoldier

    SilentSoldier Woke up, flawless. Post up, flawless

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    hmm, a bit afraid to ask but whatever. I worked for a year as a ER scribe in which I shadowed different ER docs and documented pretty much everything that went on between the patient and the doctor. Its clinical work experience and shadowing all the same, but I decided not to shadow any other docs because the experience was more than enough to solidify my decision in wanting to pursue medicine. My question is this, should I sort of put this experience in both work experience and shadowing or should I look to actually shadow some other docs separate from those I did while working in the ER?
  30. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    Don't duplicate an experience and enter it twice. It is well known that scribing has embedded shadowing experience. You can mention it specifically in what you name the activity if you wish. Other shadowing, which I hope you'll acquire to demonstrate some breadth of experience (hopefully, at least with an office-based primary care doc), should be listed in the "Other" category. If you happened to watch specialty/consulting docs while on duty for whom you did not scribe, you could put that in the same "Other" listing as well.
  31. SilentSoldier

    SilentSoldier Woke up, flawless. Post up, flawless

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    Can I do this, because they would consult cardiologists, Ortho docs, Neruos, and OBGyns a lot at this hospital given the patient population of the area and that would be great to include.
  32. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    Go for it. That is shadowing, too.
  33. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    :love: Cat.

    Everyone can thank Catalystik for being the impetus for this new thread.
  34. dbeast

    dbeast Neurorectal surgeon

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    So I don't have anything really to contribute, but I'd like to give some much-deserved praise to Cougs for text-bedazzling the titles of all her threads. :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
  35. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    I like the way they have a similar stand-out appearance so that they're easy to pick out quickly when you're scanning for them.
  36. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    Actually this thread carries forward a terrific five-year tradition started by Sail Crazy, and contributed to by LizzyM, GujuDoc, Blue Elmo, G1SG2, witness23, Stratego, shahak49, pianola, Reptar Bar, Mobius1985, chad5871, and many, many others over the years, cited by CougarMD in Post #1 (in case anyone is interested in some light reading to help pass the time).
  37. Frazier

    Frazier turtle in a rabbit race Lifetime Donor

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    subscribed.
  38. Signifier

    Signifier

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    Oof, hobbies with contacts. That's a tough one. I do a lot of stuff in my few moments of free time, but most of it is by myself or with peers. Should I not list any hobbies? Should I try to sneak them into another work or volunteer experience?

    I forgot we needed contact people for all activities.
  39. Frazier

    Frazier turtle in a rabbit race Lifetime Donor

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    List a friend -- or if you do it by yourself, list yourself.
    It really isn't going to be that big of a deal:

    ADCOM: "Signifier enjoys hiking! OMG, what's this? His reference for hiking is himself!? REJECTED!"

    ...not gonna happen.
  40. fractal

    fractal

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    As long as you can talk about the research in-depth at an interview, and 700 characters is enough to describe it sufficiently, would it be ok to not mark research as Most Significant? I feel like I've learned a ton cumulatively from my different research experiences (4 different projects), but couldn't name *one* of them Most Significant. I do plan on doing research in the future, and am applying to research-oriented schools, but I'd rather list three non-research experiences as Most Significant.
  41. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    If the new AMCAS application requires a contact for Hobbies, list a peer. Or pick one hobby or sport that does have an organizer or organization sponsoring it, listing that one first, with others less documented in the same space.
  42. Signifier

    Signifier

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    Be realistic Frazier. Think of how easy it would be for any punk pre-med to list hiking, when he or she has never even seen a forest.

    Ok, I'll take your advice.
  43. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    I think this is a reasonable strategic move to make. (Especially since you'll be using 700 X 4 characters to discuss your research.)
  44. farrago

    farrago Burnt out.

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    How about listing your pre-med advisor as contact for hobbies?

    Also, for some types of activities, you could include a link to your website and put yourself as contact - if they can see your art or music or whatever online, I'm assuming that will be enough verification.
  45. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout what's a nerve? Moderator

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    I predict this thread will be invaluable for determining new strategies what with this Work/Experience Section overhaul (ranking activities, lower character count, etc...) :thumbup:
  46. SilentSoldier

    SilentSoldier Woke up, flawless. Post up, flawless

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    Wow, thanks so much. I knew there was a reason that I liked cats more than dogs :)

    Now its just a matter of getting their contact info, but I'll probably just list the # of the hospital in which they worked at.
  47. S6MD

    S6MD Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

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    This seems like the complete opposite advice of LizzyM. WSH recommends reflecting more than describing in each work/activity entry. Are adcoms really going to read it all?

    I'm pretty confused.
  48. CougarMD

    CougarMD Come up screaming Moderator Emeritus

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    That was why I lead the FAQ off with a disclaimer. Even the SDN article about this issue has conflicting opinions. Just like all adcom members don't like the same type of pie, you are not going to get them all to agree on every single point of the application process.

    I think that the key is not to do one of the things they seem to universally HATE. Like waste time/space extensively describing the duties of being a scribe, or going to the full character limit for EVERY activity no matter what.

    For what it is worth...I've heard of people getting praised or reamed for how they listed their activities. I did mine bullet style, and no one said anything. In a weird way, every time someone doesn't acknowledge something in this process, you get the feeling you probably did the right thing...
  49. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    For the purpose of listing casual shadowing, I would not get individual physician contact info. They won't recall your presence. Instead use an ER doc you work with a lot who knows what you do. Or the usual Nurse Manager of the ER for your shift.
  50. bajoneswadup

    bajoneswadup

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    When I fill out my app (next year) will I need to list the dates volunteer work/shadowing was done? Basically I'm asking if I cram a bunch of volunteer work and my shadowing in during the summer, will adcoms see this, and will it look kind of bad?
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