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do adcoms realize how much time work takes up?

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YoungProdigy

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I'm working about 46-50 hours a week. On my downtime, I'm usually studying, which doesn't leave me much leeway when it comes to EC's. Do adcoms actually take into account the relative difficulty of having a full time job and going to school? I feel like that isn't address enough on SDN, since most people here are barely working (at least that's the vibe I get). After working for that long every week and going to school, who in the hell feels like volunteering 4 hours every week at a hospital where you don't do crap?
/rant.
 

cactusinmyhead

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I hope they do! I'm also a work-experience heavy applicant and a bit lower on the volunteering end
 

gonnif

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They care about showing motivation, commitment, and achievement. So showing success in a busy schedule that fits in job, family, school, volunteering, etc does matter. You need to show that in your application in your PS.
 
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ChrisMack390

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Many secondaries, I am even tempted to say a majority of secondaries, specifically ask if you were working full time while in college. They wouldn't ask if they didn't care.

That being said, this is not an excuse to skip shadowing or volunteering. Doctors are busy people - make it work.
 
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GrapesofRath

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On the list gyngyn always provides of a survey of ADCOMs of what factors they care about for admission and how they value them "employment during college" is considered relevant. That said, you need to do the things required of you such as clinical exposure, volunteering that shows your altruism, and have the stats to be competitive. IF that means taking gap years to do it then that's what will have to be. Admittedly not the fairest thing in the world but neither is admission.
 

nwts

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They'll understand in that they understand that a person who works full time and goes to school doesn't have time to do 800 hours of volunteering. They will not, however, overlook a lack of clinical experience. It will be next to impossible to convince them that you know what you're getting into without any clinical experience. Yes, it is very hard to find time to shadow and get other clinical exposure when you're working, but that doesn't mean that you're excused. They don't want to accept people into their medical school who will drop out halfway through because they didn't know what they were getting into. While it really sucks that some people have all the time in the world to get clinical exposure and others have no extra time but have to make time, that's just life.

Basically, you don't have to do tons, but you have to do something.
 
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Jabawocky

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I also hope that they take it into account. I work a normal week(40hours) but then I am also on call most weekends and at least 3 nights out of the week. I don't have much free time whatsoever.
 

Law2Doc

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I'm working about 46-50 hours a week. On my downtime, I'm usually studying, which doesn't leave me much leeway when it comes to EC's. Do adcoms actually take into account the relative difficulty of having a full time job and going to school? I feel like that isn't address enough on SDN, since most people here are barely working (at least that's the vibe I get). After working for that long every week and going to school, who in the hell feels like volunteering 4 hours every week at a hospital where you don't do crap?
/rant.

You do realize that if you go down this road to medicine there will be times when you are working 70-80 hours a week while studying for various boards and inservice exams and maybe pumping up your CV with a little research on the side? 4 hours on top of your schedule probably looks like nothing to them.
 
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Goro

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We expect you to be good at time mgt. We respect that some people have to work for a living while going to school. Getting good grades while working is always a plus, getting poor grades while working is an excuse.

Now, what about ECs? You're too tired? Then save up your money, stop working and do a gap year. Or work and go to school part time. This is a marathon, not a race.

But if you're going to pull the too tired and say I can't do my ECs, that's not going to fly. Here's why:

You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into, and show off your altruistic, humanism side. We need to know that you're going to like being around sick or injured people for the next 40 years.

Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.

I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

What are you going to say when asked how you know you are suited for a life of caring for the sick and suffering? “That you just know”? Imagine how that will go over!

Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

Service need not be "unique". If you can alleviate suffering in your community through service to the poor, homeless, illiterate, fatherless, etc, you are meeting an otherwise unmet need and learning more about the lives of the people (or types of people) who will someday be your patients. Check out your local houses of worship for volunteer opportunities.

Examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, crisis hotlines, soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless or women’s shelter, after-school tutoring for students or coaching a sport in a poor school district, teaching ESL to adults at a community center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or Meals on Wheels.

Some types of volunteer activities are more appealing than others. Volunteering in a nice suburban hospital is all very well and good and all, but doesn't show that you're willing to dig in and get your hands dirty in the same way that working with the developmentally disabled (or homeless or Alzheimers or mentally ill or elderly or ESL or domestic, rural impoverished) does. The uncomfortable situations are the ones that really demonstrate your altruism and get you 'brownie points'. Plus, they frankly teach you more -- they develop your compassion and humanity in ways comfortable situations can't.

Admission to medical school, and a career in Medicine, is a privilege, not a right. It is not a reward for being a good student or having high grades + GPA, whether working or not. You wanna be a doctor? Earn it.


QUOTE="YoungProdigy, post: 16617137, member: 452107"]I'm working about 46-50 hours a week. On my downtime, I'm usually studying, which doesn't leave me much leeway when it comes to EC's. Do adcoms actually take into account the relative difficulty of having a full time job and going to school? I feel like that isn't address enough on SDN, since most people here are barely working (at least that's the vibe I get). After working for that long every week and going to school, who in the hell feels like volunteering 4 hours every week at a hospital where you don't do crap?
/rant.[/QUOTE]
 
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Affiche

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It's hard to generate sympathy for someone who can't find 4 hours each week to help others.

And before you jump down my throat, I worked 35-40 hrs each week while going to school full-time as well. My university is notorious for being rigorous. On top of work and school, I was able serve as president of my school's student government, mentor other students, participate in a multicultural society and do research. I also became involved in animal rescue and trained for marathons. I have incredibly mediocre stats, and I wish they were higher, but it just goes to show that you don't have to be a genius or a time-management prodigy to balance school, work and ECs.

If you find something you love to do, 4 hours will come easily.
 
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YoungProdigy

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It's hard to generate sympathy for someone who can't find 4 hours each week to help others.

And before you jump down my throat, I worked 35-40 hrs each week while going to school full-time as well. My university is notorious for being rigorous. On top of work and school, I was able serve as president of my school's student government, mentor other students, participate in a multicultural society and do research. I also became involved in animal rescue and trained for marathons. I have incredibly mediocre stats, and I wish they were higher, but it just goes to show that you don't have to be a genius or a time-management prodigy to balance school, work and ECs.

If you find something you love to do, 4 hours will come easily.

with all due respect, that's the thing. I don't want to have mediocre stats. Could I get involved in a bunch of different things? Sure. But that would most likely have a negative effect on my grades and test scores, which is not what I'm interested.

Also, that first sentence is a very ignorant blanket statement.
 

Affiche

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After working for that long every week and going to school, who in the hell feels like volunteering 4 hours every week at a hospital where you don't do crap?
/rant.

It's not that your grades will suffer if you do other things, you just simply don't want to do them.
 
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Affiche

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And considering I worked full-time while balancing school myself, I would hardly be considered ignorant on the subject. Just because I disagree with your priorities doesn't make me ignorant, but by all means keep ignoring the advice you're getting here.

I'll leave you with this: if you aren't a well-rounded applicant, you won't have to worry about your stats being mediocre because your lack of ECs and service will make you a less than mediocre candidate.
 
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CharlieKelly

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i worked full time while studying/applying and felt it was addressed, very favorably, by my interviewers. It was brought up without any cue-ing on my part, at every interview, all of whom seemed moderately impressed by it. I was accepted to nearly all schools I interviewed at, and felt that was a big factor. I also had a child during this time.

That being said, I also did those ECs (volunteeing, shadowing, research etc.) whenever I had the chance, granted it was sparse during the years i worked/schooled at the same time. Don't think about going full-on in those, just spend any free hours once every month or every week. Volunteering and shadowing will be a good reminder why you're going into medicine and I found it to be more refreshing then a time sink away from studying/work.
 
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YoungProdigy

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And considering I worked full-time while balancing school myself, I would hardly be considered ignorant on the subject. Just because I disagree with your priorities doesn't make me ignorant, but by all means keep ignoring the advice you're getting here.

I'll leave you with this: if you aren't a well-rounded applicant, you won't have to worry about your stats being mediocre because your lack of ECs and service will make you a less than mediocre candidate.

That's not what I was referring to when I said you were bing ignorant, but I'm not here to argue. Appreciate the advice, honestly.
 

YoungProdigy

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i worked full time while studying/applying and felt it was addressed, very favorably, by my interviewers. It was brought up without any cue-ing on my part, at every interview, all of whom seemed moderately impressed by it. I was accepted to nearly all schools I interviewed at, and felt that was a big factor. I also had a child during this time.

That being said, I also did those ECs (volunteeing, shadowing, research etc.) whenever I had the chance, granted it was sparse during the years i worked/schooled at the same time. Don't think about going full-on in those, just spend any free hours once every month or every week. Volunteering and shadowing will be a good reminder why you're going into medicine and I found it to be more refreshing then a time sink away from studying/work.
Hearing about your experience really does relieve me of my concerns. Do you mind telling me how many hours you had at your favorite place to volunteer? I'd just like to get a feel for maybe what I should be aiming for.
 

DrDarce

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I worked a full time job while I was doing my undergrad and at one point worked 2 part time jobs. As others have stated above, this is no excuse for not shadowing or volunteering. Although it was difficult especially since I was involved in other non-medical EC's, I don't think it can compare to how busy I will be as a physician (especially during residency). So to answer your question, yes they know how much time work takes up. You still are expected to volunteer and gain exposure to medicine. How else would you know if this is right for you?
 
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Goro

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To be a good applicant AND medical student, you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

with all due respect, that's the thing. I don't want to have mediocre stats. Could I get involved in a bunch of different things? Sure. But that would most likely have a negative effect on my grades and test scores, which is not what I'm interested.
 

Affiche

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@YoungProdigy the best advice I can give you would be to fine some type of EC that has a flexible schedule. I wasn't able to volunteer at our hospital because they had a lot of commitment requirements that conflicted with my schedule.

Goro mentioned the humane society and habitat, both of which are very flexible. For both of those, you can basically sign up whenever you have the time and it's a very mild commitment, but very rewarding. I'm sure there are plenty of others with a similar policy, you'll just have to look around.
 

ChrisMack390

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I am currently working 40-50 hours, pursuing a masters in biology, and working on a global health related research project. I have time time to volunteer 2-4 hours a week at a soup kitchen plus ~10 hours per month at a psychiatric hospital. May not sound like much, but by this time next year (when I'll be applying) those 2 things alone will add up to ~120 hours clinical volunteering plus ~150 non-clinical just in the next calendar year.

There is time for anything you find time for. I wake up at 6 AM Sundays to go to the shelter, because that is the best spot it fit. It is what it is.
 

Donald Juan

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A full time job can make up for lack of extracurricular activities, but you must make it known on your app. You need to sell yourself and your story.

Nothing will make up for lackluster GPA, mcat, or clinical experience. However, I feel a lot of people in this thread are being unfair. Two applicants with equal GPA, mcat, and clinical shadowing; one who was secretary of the premed club and had a handful of relay for life and march of dimes experiences would not be inherently better than an applicant that had to work a full time job throughout college and had less volunteering. It's also a poor analogy to say, "well, you'll have to do X in med school/residency, and we have to make sure you can do it" since 99% of entering med students will have never worked or studied as hard as they will need to in med school.
 

YoungProdigy

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I am currently working 40-50 hours, pursuing a masters in biology, and working on a global health related research project. I have time time to volunteer 2-4 hours a week at a soup kitchen plus ~10 hours per month at a psychiatric hospital. May not sound like much, but by this time next year (when I'll be applying) those 2 things alone will add up to ~120 hours clinical volunteering plus ~150 non-clinical just in the next calendar year.

There is time for anything you find time for. I wake up at 6 AM Sundays to go to the shelter, because that is the best spot it fit. It is what it is.

Just what I need, motivation. Maybe it was the idea of volunteering at yet another hospital where I don't do anything that pissed me off initially, but with Goros list and the personal stories here, this really helps me out. Thanks.
 

Affiche

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@Donald Juan i don't think anyone here is suggesting that superficial ECs> working, just that working doesnt excuse not participating in anything else. If an applicant doesn't have shadowing hours, clinical experience or any type of service to his community, how can anyone trust that he actually wants to be in this career?
 

Donald Juan

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@Donald Juan i don't think anyone here is suggesting that superficial ECs> working, just that working doesnt excuse not participating in anything else. If an applicant doesn't have shadowing hours, clinical experience or any type of service to his community, how can anyone trust that he actually wants to be in this career?
Well, I did say, "Nothing will make up for lackluster GPA, mcat, or clinical experience."

I just see post after post of, "well I did it, so you need to." "well you'll have to do it in med school so..."

Clinical experience is very important. You have to be able to tell people why you want to be a doctor, and not a nurse, or a researcher, or a social worker. But, doing random ECs just to fill up your 15 (or whatever it is now) experiences on AMCAS is not a requirement.

And, for the record, I don't know how getting your 50 hours of shadowing, 50 hours of volunteering, officer of 2+ clubs, and 3rd author on a pub shows people that you actually want to be a physician. Of course, now that I think about it, I don't really know what does. But for sure, someone who can work a full time job to support them self and make 3.7+ and get a 30+ mcat is prepared for med school.
 

GrapesofRath

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A full time job can make up for lack of extracurricular activities, but you must make it known on your app. You need to sell yourself and your story.

Nothing will make up for lackluster GPA, mcat, or clinical experience. However, I feel a lot of people in this thread are being unfair. Two applicants with equal GPA, mcat, and clinical shadowing; one who was secretary of the premed club and had a handful of relay for life and march of dimes experiences would not be inherently better than an applicant that had to work a full time job throughout college and had less volunteering. It's also a poor analogy to say, "well, you'll have to do X in med school/residency, and we have to make sure you can do it" since 99% of entering med students will have never worked or studied as hard as they will need to in med school.

+1

While the general point's made in this thread are very much on point this is one thing I do want to say: the thing you hear on here all the time about "oh in Med School you'll have to work 80 hours a week on top of other stuff so if you can't do well working 50 hours as an undergrad you arent cut out for this" is not something I agree with at all and by a large a straw man. Very few applicants have to work close to as hard as they do in med school before going to med school. Hell, many of these prodigies at top schools if they had to take on some of the commitments they did in med school while in undergrad would fall apart when they were in undergrad. You build your way up to being able to juggle as much as you do when you are a medical student/resident/attending physician. Time management isn't some skill you just say "do it" and you'll learn it. You learn it through years of experience and maturation. There are degrees of time management skill. Time management for an undergrad student and for an MD/PhD surgeon are far different things. It's a process. Now if you are poor at it, obviously you are sunk(and this is in whatever field you go into). But that's not the point really here.

I don't have any respect for the OP calling people who tell them things they don't want to hear "ignorant". I do however have respect someone who has to work 50 hours a week while in undergrad while studying and maintaining sufficient grades. There is a HUGE difference between working 15-20 hours a week like many undergrads do and 50 hours. Hell there is a big difference between working 50 hours a week and 30 which is often from my experience what college kids I know are talking about in terms of time commitment when they say they work in order to sufficiently support themselves. Again, I'm not talking about anybody specifically in this thread just people I know.

Again, admission doesn't work like this but there is no doubt that some of these pre-meds with top stats who get to live off daddy's money would not be able to attain anywhere near the stats they do having to work 50 hours a week and all the stress and fatigue that brings as opposed to the little to none they do while living off daddy's money. That's not even a debate in my mind. It is unfortunate there isn't a better way to adjust for this in admission. But such is life. This is kind of like the debate about how students at top grade deflated schools get punished for GPA. There are a number of things about admission that are unfair. Privilege unfortunately is a real thing that is not insignificant. Accept what is unfair and do your best to overcome them. That's all that can be said.
 
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    There are quite a few posts and discussions over in the Nontrad forum about juggling things like fulltime work plus classes plus ECs and maybe caring for a family too. There are some good tips for strategies to manage things.

    It can be done, it's just a matter of knowing yourself and striking the right balance where you get the experiences you need along with the income from the job while still performing well academically.

    I think, as you seem to have mentioned, finding something you enjoy doing will make the time pass quickly. It can also provide a much needed refreshing break from books and classes and work and/or serve as a good reminder for why you're doing all of this.

    I have work full-time plus school plus volunteering plus random other jobs and owning a house and raising two dogs. Volunteering at our student run free clinic wound up really motivating me both at work and school. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to do that and I've found myself missing it.
     

    YoungProdigy

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    To be a good applicant AND medical student, you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    with all due respect, that's the thing. I don't want to have mediocre stats. Could I get involved in a bunch of different things? Sure. But that would most likely have a negative effect on my grades and test scores, which is not what I'm interested.

    Isn't that the analogy given for students who just do school and EC's? Not trying to be a cry baby, but it sometimes feels like I'm having to walk bare foot and chew a piece of double bubble gum in my mouth. You don't have to dignify this with a response...I think I'm just venting to get this crap out of my system, which helps no one...
     

    YoungProdigy

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    I don't have any respect for the OP calling people who tell them things they don't want to hear "ignorant". .

    Just to clarify, I wasn't calling rachiee01 ignorant because of her advice, but because I felt offended by her blanket statement (which I found offensive) about me not wanting to spend 4 hours a week to help anybody. I help plenty of people, but just not in the typical volunteer clock in clock out fashion. I'm actually thankful for rachiee01 since she really did give me a no BS, constructive piece of criticism/advice. Anyways, I had originally decided not to argue, which is probably why I wasn't as clear as I should have been, so apologies on my part.

    I really do appreciate all of you who have responded. Every post has helped me out in some capacity, and I know have a positive frame of mind knowing that since other people have done it, so can I. Thanks.
     

    Gandyy

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    Eh, Idk man. I had a 15-17 credit hour schedule throughout college. I have a ton of EC's and worked 15+ hours in a research lab throughout all 4 years of college. I do have mediocre stats as well, but my point is that you can get the average MD matriculant averages or near them assuming no major life crisis occurs and still figure out a way to cram EC's in with a full time job.

    I've seen a few people who had full time jobs, were pre-med bio and still end up with stellar EC's.

    And if you dont want to actually do them, try doing something you like. Get involved. Its still a EC. There has got to be something that would be meaningful for your medical career on a college campus.

    Edit: Or you can be a 40+ MCAT 4.0 GPA applicant with no EC's. I think even people who dont know anything about medicine or the admissions process can tell you how that will go over.
     
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