tle1093

10+ Year Member
Apr 28, 2008
38
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I am applying this cycle (2009) and I'm taking the MCAT in about a week. I've been volunteering and doing research throughout the school year, but since I am an out-of-state student, I had not have the chance to get any shadowing or clinical opportunity. I'm planning on shadowing a doctor in June, and my question is:

Is it too late to do anything this summer? And since the primary app is due soon, should I include what I do this summer in my personal statement? Or would it appear that I'm trying to squeeze everything in in the last minute? Obviously any experience I gain during the summer shouldn't be my "inspiration" to pursue medicine, since it should be the decision I made a while ago and not a decision I solidified on AS I'm turning in my primary.

Feel free to let your opinion be heard.
 

chad5871

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Apr 6, 2006
5,276
11
New York, NY
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
If you have zero clinical experience right now and are planning on applying this cycle, I would highly recommend taking a year off and applying next cycle. It doesn't look good if all of your clinical experiences were within 6 months of your application date. Take the summer off and focus on the MCAT, and then you won't have to worry about studying for it and filling out applications at the same time.

Are you currently a junior?
 

alwaysaangel

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
5,377
37
Orange, CA
Status
Resident [Any Field]
If you have zero clinical experience right now and are planning on applying this cycle, I would highly recommend taking a year off and applying next cycle. It doesn't look good if all of your clinical experiences were within 6 months of your application date. Take the summer off and focus on the MCAT, and then you won't have to worry about studying for it and filling out applications at the same time.

Are you currently a junior?
Agreed. Whether or not you understand 'what it takes' to be in medicine is HUGE in the admissions process. And no one is going to believe you actually realize what work a doctor does if you did it AFTER you submited your primary.

At this point you need to take a year off do your clinical work and apply the 2010 cycle. Your application will probably be stronger for it in other ways too so really its not a bad thing.
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Agreed. Whether or not you understand 'what it takes' to be in medicine is HUGE in the admissions process. And no one is going to believe you actually realize what work a doctor does if you did it AFTER you submited your primary.

At this point you need to take a year off do your clinical work and apply the 2010 cycle. Your application will probably be stronger for it in other ways too so really its not a bad thing.
I began clinical experience two weeks before submitting my primary. I'm having a difficult time this cycle. I dont know if this is becasue, at the time of my interviews, I was still not answering why medicine effectively, or if, as this poster suggests, no one believes i understand 'what medicine takes' becasue i started volunteering as I was writing my primary.

If that latter, i think this is quite irrational, because I think a very small percentage of pre-meds stop or start this process based on their clinical expereince.
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
i agree with the other two posters. your lack of clinical exposure will raise some red flags.

more importantly, clinical exposure is something that you need to have to make sure that medicine is right for you. i think it's hard to make that decision without any firsthand experience. this career takes quite a commitment and you need to make sure that this is what you really want.
 

Gpan

10+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2007
676
59
Status
Attending Physician
doesn't volunteering in a hospital count as clinical experience? The OP said he has been doing that.
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Yes, what exactly does clinical experience entail?
Clinical experience is anything that gets you exposure to patients and allows you to see what a doctor does on a daily basis. This can be accomplished through hospital volunteering, shadowing, or EMT/CNA type jobs.

By volunteering, I assumed that the OP meant non-clinical volunteering, which could be helping out the Boy Scouts, tutoring, or Habitat for Humanity, etc.
 

UCLAlifer

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2007
57
3
Status
I began clinical experience two weeks before submitting my primary. I'm having a difficult time this cycle. I dont know if this is becasue, at the time of my interviews, I was still not answering why medicine effectively, or if, as this poster suggests, no one believes i understand 'what medicine takes' becasue i started volunteering as I was writing my primary.

If that latter, i think this is quite irrational, because I think a very small percentage of pre-meds stop or start this process based on their clinical expereince.
I agree with jult24er. I got some outpatient volunteering experience starting in June 2007 for the 2007-2008 application cycle. You will probably have some difficulties with the application cycle just because this is one of those things that "you're supposed to have done in order to know that you really want to go into medicine." I feel that the clinical experience is a must to make your application as strong as it can possibly be, but some of the drawbacks to lacking this experience can be offset if you can demonstrate a mature understanding of what you're getting yourself into (either through your PS or through secondary app questions). I felt that I've done pretty well for myself this application cycle (2 acceptances, 2 waitlists), but do find myself wondering if I could've pushed myself into that next level of schools if I had just gotten these experiences ahead of time. I was unnecessarily (and regretfully) stubborn about it, because as jult24er said, I didn't think that I needed to shadow a doctor to validate my interest in medicine as a career.

So, what that whole blurb was meant to say was that you should apply this year, but do some shadowing and other stuff so that you can put it on your primary before you send it out, update the schools as you spend more time at those respective experiences, and so that you'll have them under your belt in the case that you have to reapply next cycle.

Good Luck!
 

redlight

Senior Member :D
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2008
1,780
1
USA
Status
Pre-Medical
I am applying this cycle (2009) and I'm taking the MCAT in about a week. I've been volunteering and doing research throughout the school year, but since I am an out-of-state student, I had not have the chance to get any shadowing or clinical opportunity. I'm planning on shadowing a doctor in June, and my question is:

Is it too late to do anything this summer? And since the primary app is due soon, should I include what I do this summer in my personal statement? Or would it appear that I'm trying to squeeze everything in in the last minute? Obviously any experience I gain during the summer shouldn't be my "inspiration" to pursue medicine, since it should be the decision I made a while ago and not a decision I solidified on AS I'm turning in my primary.

Feel free to let your opinion be heard.
not sure why being out of state has anything to do with getting shadowing... doctors are pretty much everywhere..

but yea it is definitely too late to try to add to your application by starting new activities this summer, imo. adcoms want to see long-term commitment, which generally can be taken as at least a semester long involvement. something you started the summer you apply is just going to look like a tack-on activity instead of something meaningful (unless, for example, the activity is very substantial like a research honors program or something that you didn't decide to do or take interest in last minute). even then, unless you have a theme for your application that fits with the activity, it may look out of place and like a tack-on.
 

engineeredout

10+ Year Member
May 11, 2008
3,433
600
Pennsylvania
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
I'm in a similar situation as the OP, but I've already decided to put off applying until the next cycle (09-10). I've already put in the paperwork to do some volunteer work at a hospital (I have no clinical experience thus far). I'll try to get in as much as I can before the next application cycle, but how much are they looking for? 50 hours? 100? 1000?

And I was also wondering if I'm doing it too late even for the 09-10 cycle. I haven't had clinical experience throughout college so far (I'm finishing junior year now), but its not like I haven't been working, I have.
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I'm in a similar situation as the OP, but I've already decided to put off applying until the next cycle (09-10). I've already put in the paperwork to do some volunteer work at a hospital (I have no clinical experience thus far). I'll try to get in as much as I can before the next application cycle, but how much are they looking for? 50 hours? 100? 1000?

And I was also wondering if I'm doing it too late even for the 09-10 cycle. I haven't had clinical experience throughout college so far (I'm finishing junior year now), but its not like I haven't been working, I have.
I don't think there is a specific hour "requirement" per se. You just need to make sure you're getting something out of it.

You're not too late. If you continue volunteering for your year off, you should be in good shape for next cycle. :thumbup:
 

Darkshooter326

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 30, 2006
667
1
Status
Pre-Medical
If your numbers are strong enough to get you interviews at the schools you are interested in, I would apply this cycle and do the clinical stuff. It might not help your AMCAS application, but if worthy, it gives you something to talk about in your interviews. But, again, you need to have good reasons in your application to begin with.
 

redlight

Senior Member :D
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2008
1,780
1
USA
Status
Pre-Medical
I began clinical experience two weeks before submitting my primary. I'm having a difficult time this cycle. I dont know if this is becasue, at the time of my interviews, I was still not answering why medicine effectively, or if, as this poster suggests, no one believes i understand 'what medicine takes' becasue i started volunteering as I was writing my primary.

If that latter, i think this is quite irrational, because I think a very small percentage of pre-meds stop or start this process based on their clinical expereince.
true, but it is common sense to seek experiences in a field you claim to want to spend 6+ years of training/education and invest (hundreds of) thousands of $$ in. if you don't seek any clinical, how can adcom weigh your motives (based on your actions, not just your words) for entering medicine, your interest in the field and patients you will someday serve, and you likelihood of following through will all the years of school and residency etc?
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
true, but it is common sense to seek experiences in a field you claim to want to spend 6+ years of training/education and invest (hundreds of) thousands of $$ in. if you don't seek any clinical, how can adcom weigh your motives (based on your actions, not just your words) for entering medicine, your interest in the field and patients you will someday serve, and you likelihood of following through will all the years of school and residency etc?
this is right on, but i think the fear is that people will get into med school, decide it's not what they wanted, then feel stuck with all the debt. they continue on because realistically there is no other way to pay back that debt. then, with each year that passes in training or at the job, these people will feel more and more bitter and resentful.
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I agree with jult24er.
:)

You will probably have some difficulties with the application cycle just because this is one of those things that "you're supposed to have done in order to know that you really want to go into medicine." I feel that the clinical experience is a must to make your application as strong as it can possibly be,

Agree, especially given how competitve this process is, they can probably replace you with someone with similar numbers and clinical expereince. Id hazard a guess that you should be in the 10th percentile on a school's GPA and MCAT if you have minimal clinical expereince, so start racking up those hours.

but some of the drawbacks to lacking this experience can be offset if you can demonstrate a mature understanding of what you're getting yourself into (either through your PS or through secondary app questions).

Agree again. Looks like you get this in saying you can write your PS based on other experiences. If you can give a convincing why medicine, that should go a ways to compensating for starting late on clinical, although I would think a good PS needs to talk in a pretty detailed way about how you know you like a physician's day-to-day work.

I felt that I've done pretty well for myself this application cycle (2 acceptances, 2 waitlists), but do find myself wondering if I could've pushed myself into that next level of schools if I had just gotten these experiences ahead of time.

Congrats, looks like you have good research experience too. Thats probably one of the ways an applicant can partially offset late clinical experience.

I was unnecessarily (and regretfully) stubborn about it, because as jult24er said, I didn't think that I needed to shadow a doctor to validate my interest in medicine as a career.

Agree 3 and 4! I think medicine is too different from most other carears, and the requirements to apply too great, for most of us not to know if we want to go down that road or not. But thats no reason to hurt your application, any clinical experience and shadowing you can start now you should.

So, what that whole blurb was meant to say was that you should apply this year, but do some shadowing and other stuff so that you can put it on your primary before you send it out, update the schools as you spend more time at those respective experiences, and so that you'll have them under your belt in the case that you have to reapply next cycle.

Agree 5, but apply to a lot of schools, including below your numbers range, and definitly send updates on your experience at some point, and highlight them in the interview, and, like you said, do the best to tell your why medicine story referencing expereinces from before your late clinical expereince. And be prepared to not get into schools you probably would with another year under your belt ...

Good Luck!
Get going, good luck.
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm in a similar situation as the OP, but I've already decided to put off applying until the next cycle (09-10). I've already put in the paperwork to do some volunteer work at a hospital (I have no clinical experience thus far). I'll try to get in as much as I can before the next application cycle, but how much are they looking for? 50 hours? 100? 1000?

And I was also wondering if I'm doing it too late even for the 09-10 cycle. I haven't had clinical experience throughout college so far (I'm finishing junior year now), but its not like I haven't been working, I have.
A friend told me she called GW's adcom and they said they were looking for 200 hours of clinical volunteer. Thats third-hand information for those counting ...
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
If your numbers are strong enough to get you interviews at the schools you are interested in, I would apply this cycle and do the clinical stuff. It might not help your AMCAS application, but if worthy, it gives you something to talk about in your interviews. But, again, you need to have good reasons in your application to begin with.
Agree again! my late clinical seems like ti started to hurt me at schools where my numbers are on target mostly post-interview ...
 

redlight

Senior Member :D
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2008
1,780
1
USA
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm in a similar situation as the OP, but I've already decided to put off applying until the next cycle (09-10). I've already put in the paperwork to do some volunteer work at a hospital (I have no clinical experience thus far). I'll try to get in as much as I can before the next application cycle, but how much are they looking for? 50 hours? 100? 1000?

And I was also wondering if I'm doing it too late even for the 09-10 cycle. I haven't had clinical experience throughout college so far (I'm finishing junior year now), but its not like I haven't been working, I have.
yea its definitely quality over quantity.. just show that you've learned something powerful from your experience..

check out this essay... it's based on 1 day of volunteering, but it was enough for a kick-*** PS.
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
true,

if thats true, then clinical expereince doesnt really help people choose to pursue medicine, "common sense" or no ...

but it is common sense to seek experiences in a field you claim to want to spend 6+ years of training/education and invest (hundreds of) thousands of $$ in.

We've all seen doctors work. What other field is so people-focused, involves as much intellectual activity and makes such a difference in peoples lives?

if you don't seek any clinical, how can adcom weigh your motives (based on your actions, not just your words) for entering medicine, your interest in the field and patients you will someday serve, and you likelihood of following through will all the years of school and residency etc?

I dont think the simple action of having done clinical experience says anything about an applicant's motives, only that they are willing to spend an additional X hours to get into medical school ... but I guess I dont know enough to say whether or not being able to talk to an applicant about their clinical experience helps adcoms judge their motives and people-skills. Perhaps ... so in that sense maybe requiring clinical experience has some value ...
.
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I dont think the simple action of having done clinical experience says anything about an applicant's motives, only that they are willing to spend an additional X hours to get into medical school ... but I guess I dont know enough to say whether or not being able to talk to an applicant about their clinical experience helps adcoms judge their motives and people-skills. Perhaps ... so in that sense maybe requiring clinical experience has some value ...
How can objective observer say that you've put a lot of thought into the decision? I'd say that clinical experience is the only way they can gauge that. Good or bad, I think that's the only real measure.

As an applicant, you're really doing yourself a huge disservice by not playing the game and putting in those hours. Regardless of if it's a good measure of motives or not, it is still in place and we still have to cater to that.
 

redlight

Senior Member :D
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2008
1,780
1
USA
Status
Pre-Medical
if thats true, then clinical expereince doesnt really help people choose to pursue medicine, "common sense" or no ...

i wasnt trying to prove that clinical experience helps people choose to pursue medicine, i was asserting that it's one of the things adcom use to determine XYZ in the admissions game. clinical experience is something you need as evidence of your interest in the field and blah blah blah. it's a hoop you need to jump through, though when done right, it can really help your application by showing adcoms you have the right intentions and have an idea of what you're getting yourself into.


We've all seen doctors work. What other field is so people-focused, involves as much intellectual activity and makes such a difference in peoples lives?

have we all seen doctors work? those annual or biannual trips to the doctors office for health reasons or physicals or those tv shows do not reveal all the complexities in the field. how do you learn things ranging from ethics and the patient-doctor relationship to dealing with insurance companies and whatnot from those little adventures to the doc's office and from watching tv sitcoms?? most people only know the lucrative side of being a physician but do not know how grueling and consuming (time, energy, etc.) the job can be.

besides, if you go into interviews without evidence of trying to see whether medicine (specifically being a physician) is for you (through clinical experiences) you can expect to be bombarded with the 'why medicine?' questions because there are other careers where you get to "express fascination for the sciences and human body" and many ways to "help people with knowledge gained from medicine." just because you are interested in the field of medicine doest really show that you have considered all your options because being a doctor isn't the only career path in medicine. you kinda have to vary your experiences to show that you've given the career some serious thought and have approached learning about the field and about being a doctor in a comprehensive manner.


I dont think the simple action of having done clinical experience says anything about an applicant's motives, only that they are willing to spend an additional X hours to get into medical school ... but I guess I dont know enough to say whether or not being able to talk to an applicant about their clinical experience helps adcoms judge their motives and people-skills. Perhaps ... so in that sense maybe requiring clinical experience has some value ...

well if you do clinical the right way, imo, your experiences will have a certain theme after you try things out and find out what you truly enjoy. your experiences can definitely show others why you want to go into medicine (spending time around people afflicted by XX disease and getting to know them and their story and learning about treatments or research got me interested in xXx so thats why i started researching in this field, continued volunteering in this field, organized a fundraiser for this blah blah blah) this is where your PS, secondary essays, and interview comes into play. you can tie all your experiences together to show your progression in the field of medicine and how you came to realize being a physician was your calling.
decided to respond within the quote like you do :D
 

DesertSonata

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2008
180
1
Status
I have a similar question to the OP

I've done a lot of clinical experience in my last years in high school and loved it. When I went into college I started gaining other experience in different fields and doing different research work, away from medicine. However, in my last years of college, I looked back and did not enjoy any of my work experience that I've done in college and realized that medical is what I really want, so in my last year in college I've shifted my research into medicine. Now I've got hired into working as an ER scribe and will start very soon (in a couple of weeks). My question is, is it a bad idea to apply for next cycle (08-09)? I'm very sure that medicine is what I really want to do after going through many work experiences through college and after comparing it with the clinical work I previously have done in high school. Will this convince med schools? Btw, I've already graduated college and have all the premed courses taken. Thanks!
 

jult24er

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2007
857
1
Status
Pre-Medical
decided to respond within the quote like you do :D
Ha ha, thanks for the taste of my own medicine, i cant decide, annoying or helpful format ... maybe just lazy ...

I agree with you, totally a hoop you have to / should jump through and, yeah, just hearing you spin an example trajectory sounded good, I'm sure having good clinical expereince and telling a nice story with it is a huge help in applying. Wish I had more of that ...

I disagree that you cant choose medicine based on life experience and a couple trips to the doctors office or hospital, at least in some cases. Having had 5 jobs, i think the difference between what I thought being a doctor would be like and what I saw shadowing is just background noise between, say, consulting and being a doctor and probably insignifcant compared to the difference between what you think being a doctor will be like after having clinical expereince and what it will actually be like. But thats just my $.02, i guess i could be wrong ...
 
OP
T

tle1093

10+ Year Member
Apr 28, 2008
38
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Wow I wasn't expecting this number of replies...and the fact that the majority tells me to wait until the next cycle. But I appreciate your honest advice.

I guess I'll elaborate on ECs: I volunteered in a hospital pharmacy the summer after freshman year (only for that summer). During school, I regularly volunteered at elderly homes and such. Summer of sophomore year I took an engineering internship in China, and that's the main reason I wasn't able to rack up some serious clinical hours. In the past year, I continued to volunteer thru school projects, and I also did some research in the biochemical area.

Well, I can see how the adcoms may question my motives. But my rationale is that I could work in what I already have in my personal statement, and since I'll actually do some shadowing this summer, I can reassure adcoms about my determination at interviews (assuming I get invited).

I know my application isn't as good as it could be, but would it be alright if I apply this cycle and see if I get in? Leaving empty bank accounts and angry parents out of the picture, would this first attempt have any negative impact on my 2nd try?

Keep them coming.
 

Jolie South

is invoking Domo. . .
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2007
11,560
672
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Wow I wasn't expecting this number of replies...and the fact that the majority tells me to wait until the next cycle. But I appreciate your honest advice.

I guess I'll elaborate on ECs: I volunteered in a hospital pharmacy the summer after freshman year (only for that summer). During school, I regularly volunteered at elderly homes and such. Summer of sophomore year I took an engineering internship in China, and that's the main reason I wasn't able to rack up some serious clinical hours. In the past year, I continued to volunteer thru school projects, and I also did some research in the biochemical area.

Well, I can see how the adcoms may question my motives. But my rationale is that I could work in what I already have in my personal statement, and since I'll actually do some shadowing this summer, I can reassure adcoms about my determination at interviews (assuming I get invited).

I know my application isn't as good as it could be, but would it be alright if I apply this cycle and see if I get in? Leaving empty bank accounts and angry parents out of the picture, would this first attempt have any negative impact on my 2nd try?

Keep them coming.
i guess it depends on the rest of your app (GPA, MCAT, LORs). if you're solid in those aspects, you probably have a better chance.

it's up to you. if you do apply this year, i would get some clinical experience started ASAP so that you can put it on your AMCAS. then, i'd say to keep doing it throughout interviews and the rest of the cycle, pretty much until you get an acceptance.