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Do residencies care about ECs?

Dr. Doctor MD

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Starting m1 in August and have an opportunity to work with a nonprofit (low amount of work so it won’t distract from studies) over the next (hopefully) 4 years. Will residencies care about these sorts of things?
Short answer:
It depends, somewhat important, but will not be really significant or a game changer for most applicants.

Long answer:
You probably had a long list of ECs to get into medical school, and even the most uninvolved students will still have some ECs in medical school, however these will vary greatly from person to person. Generally speaking, most ECs don't matter, but you should have something as listing literally nothing would just look weird. But there is no real way to compare or contrast ECs between applicants, or to weight them like they do in med school admissions. Because of this, programs are not typically screening or using ECs when determining who they will interview for residency. Now, once you get to an interview, many interviewers will bring up your ECs for one of three reasons 1) it sounds really interesting and they want to hear more 2) they have/had a similar EC and want to talk about it 3) It's a good ice breaker along with hobbies as a low stakes conversation starter. So while ECs rarely will be a deciding factor or push you above better applicants, they are something that may allow for better performance in an interview and make you more memorable. But don't do an EC because you think someone else will care, because they won't. Do it because it's interesting to you and you could see yourself talking enthusiastically about it in person later on.

The one caveat are the 99th percentile ECs that are so rare and so impressive that no one, or very very few people in the country could or would do. The kind of jaw dropping things that make you say "wow, how in the world could a 20-something-year-old medical student do this while still crushing medical school". These types of things will benefit you, but 99% of ECs will not fall into this category.
 
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slowthai

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In my gaff
Short answer:
It depends, somewhat important, but will not be really significant or a game changer for most applicants.

Long answer:
You probably had a long list of ECs to get into medical school, and even the most uninvolved students will still have some ECs in medical school, however these will vary greatly from person to person. Generally speaking, most ECs don't matter, but you should have something as listing literally nothing would just look weird. But there is no real way to compare or contrast ECs between applicants, or to weight them like they do in med school admissions. Because of this, programs are not typically screening or using ECs when determining who they will interview for residency. Now, once you get to an interview, many interviewers will bring up your ECs for one of three reasons 1) it sounds really interesting and they want to hear more 2) they have/had a similar EC and want to talk about it 3) It's a good ice breaker along with hobbies as a low stakes conversation starter. So while ECs rarely will be a deciding factor or push you above better applicants, they are something that may allow for better performance in an interview and make you more memorable. But don't do an EC because you think someone else will care, because they won't. Do it because it's interesting to you and you could see yourself talking enthusiastically about it in person later on.

The one caveat are the 99th percentile ECs that are so rare and so impressive that no one, or very very few people in the country could or would do. The kind of jaw dropping things that make you say "wow, how in the world could a 20-something-year-old medical student do this while still crushing medical school". These types of things will benefit you, but 99% of ECs will not fall into this category.

This is the right answer
 
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sharkbyte

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I would be very surprised if ECs are make or break for any PDs. Programs are looking to see that you're academically competent, someone they can see themselves getting along with, and someone who's demonstrated genuine interest + good performance in the field you're going into. Those will be demonstrated by your Step scores, clinical grades/evaluations and LORs, with research and +/- AOA adding to that.

If an EC happens to enhance your story or your interests it might serve to give a program a better idea of you as a person/applicant, but being president of an interest group or treasurer of an org or other things isn't going to move the needle in any significant way. I saw my classmates rush to sign up for those things in M1/M2 years and never understood the hype

EDIT: My thoughts on ECs are heavily influenced by an M4 telling me during my M1 year that the only activities he did in med school were intramural sports and volunteering a couple times at the weekend clinic and he matched his #1 at a really good program. Granted, this was anesthesia, and only one anecdote, but I'm sure it applies for the majority of fields.
 
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Dr.Bruh

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ECs probably matter more this year than before. Just bc lack of aways and inperson interviews. Lots of PDs in the EM world are saying you should have things to talk about during these Zoom interveiws that aren't boring. SHould be something they can remember you by.
 

Arodgeisfire

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I’m med peds and have sat on my peds rank committee. It’s definitely the “fluffiest” specialty and we don’t give a crap about volunteering and all that crap. Residency is a job, therefore do things to get that job. Fluff isn’t one of them
 
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DameJulie

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I’m med peds and have sat on my peds rank committee. It’s definitely the “fluffiest” specialty and we don’t give a crap about volunteering and all that crap. Residency is a job, therefore do things to get that job. Fluff isn’t one of them
What are some non-fluff things you look for in an applicant, aside from board scores, grades, LOR etc? what kind of non-fluff EC do you recommend? Maybe research?
 
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Neopolymath

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If only people could do what they are genuinely interested in, instead of what others (PDs, admission committees) want them to
Then like no one would be producing the **** research put out each year solely because their field requires it. It's so funny that academic centers generally hold the best training so everyone wants to go there but a minority of people want to be academic physicians. But obtuse academics actually think all these med students are doing this research because they really want to. Yeah right.

We should end the charade.
 
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