Jan 23, 2012
15
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi everyone,

I've received some feedback from my pre-med adviser at my school that concerned me. Since my school has a pre-med committee, I need his approval and recommendation to receive a letter.

Before I begin, here's a summary of my EC's up to this point. I already posted a thread requesting advice, though I didn't get much feedback.

I've been doing NIH funded neuroscience/neurophysiology research for ~2 years so far -- since I stepped foot on campus (so far, piloted my own project and presented at 6 conferences) and just began doing work in a microbiology lab; I'm president of an on-campus club about mental health awareness (vice president last year) and was elected to be apart of the National Student Advisory Committee for the club's national office; I did a 6 month internship at a neuropsychology facility for neurological disorders and TBI freshman year; I ride for two ambulance squads as an EMT-B (one while I'm home, one on campus); I'm treasurer of a psychology honors society; I work as a science, psychology and math tutor for kids with documented mental and developmental disabilities and participate in a peer-coaching program; Since January, I've been working with a vascular neurologist in her practice 1 day a week while shadowing her and ER doctors in the hospital another day; and I lifeguard/first-aid during the summer.

My adviser told me that while I do a lot, nothing in my application so far demonstrates a desire to serve the community. She suggested I do Meals on Wheels or something related.

Is this valid advice, or do you guys find EMS, tutoring and the club I run as sufficient community service? Is there anything that's patently missing? I ask because intend to apply to both MD and MD/PhD programs next spring, meaning I will be studying for the MCAT most of next year. I'll also be applying to a SURP program next summer if I don't study abroad.

Advice?
 
Aug 22, 2009
446
1
Status
Medical Student
Your advisor's advice is valid. While you are undoubtedly helping people in your positions within your other activities, you're clearly doing them for you (to boost your resume and get into medical school). Get involved in volunteer service and do something for someone else. If you do it right, medical school won't enter your thoughts while you're working and you'll be surprised at how much more meaningful the work is. Congratulations on an otherwise solid profile.
I beg to disagree. I think volunteer experience is overrated. It's especially true since he's applying for MD/PhD. Volunteer experience has become like research. Everyone has some, but it's become so routine, it's meaningless. However, if you really are dedicated to it, that will show but I think your dedication to research (and research accomplishments) truly show that. I know a few people in my MD/PhD class that didn't do a shred of volunteer experience in their ugrad. Granted...they did have publications to support them.

If it makes your life at ease, go do something for a few hrs. But if I were you, focus on your research. That's going to make/break your application.
 
OP
The KM
Jan 23, 2012
15
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Your advisor's advice is valid. While you are undoubtedly helping people in your positions within your other activities, you're clearly doing them for you (to boost your resume and get into medical school). Get involved in volunteer service and do something for someone else. If you do it right, medical school won't enter your thoughts while you're working and you'll be surprised at how much more meaningful the work is. Congratulations on an otherwise solid profile.
While I'm aware many pre-medical students come across this way (many at my school do), I actually take offense to this. You've decided to characterize me as a passionless, self-important student who stares at this forum with a checklist in hand. What, other than the fact that my activities are bullet-pointed, has you thinking that I do these things to add to my resume?

One of the reasons I never got involved in these community volunteer programs is because everyone who's seriously considering pre-med at my school does them. If everyone does them, how much value could they hold?

I beg to disagree. I think volunteer experience is overrated. It's especially true since he's applying for MD/PhD. Volunteer experience has become like research. Everyone has some, but it's become so routine, it's meaningless. However, if you really are dedicated to it, that will show but I think your dedication to research (and research accomplishments) truly show that. I know a few people in my MD/PhD class that didn't do a shred of volunteer experience in their ugrad. Granted...they did have publications to support them.

If it makes your life at ease, go do something for a few hrs. But if I were you, focus on your research. That's going to make/break your application.
Since I've only recently considered an MD/PhD, how much experience do applicants generally have?

Also, do you feel that SURP programs are worthwhile? I have a decent shot at publishing this summer, but I've been told by a number of people that doing research at schools with more leverage might make me stand out more.
 

235788

God Complex
10+ Year Member
Dec 5, 2008
5,368
15
The Slab
Status
Medical Student
While I'm aware many pre-medical students come across this way (many at my school do), I actually take offense to this. You've decided to characterize me as a passionless, self-important student who stares at this forum with a checklist in hand. What, other than the fact that my activities are bullet-pointed, has you thinking that I do these things to add to my resume?

One of the reasons I never got involved in these community volunteer programs is because everyone who's seriously considering pre-med at my school does them. If everyone does them, how much value could they hold?



Since I've only recently considered an MD/PhD, how much experience do applicants generally have?

Also, do you feel that SURP programs are worthwhile? I have a decent shot at publishing this summer, but I've been told by a number of people that doing research at schools with more leverage might make me stand out more.
You are a cookie cutter applicant. Welcome to reality.
 

Morsetlis

I wish I were a dentist
7+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2010
4,924
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31
The "Garden" State
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hi everyone,

I've received some feedback from my pre-med adviser at my school that concerned me. Since my school has a pre-med committee, I need his approval and recommendation to receive a letter.

Before I begin, here's a summary of my EC's up to this point. I already posted a thread requesting advice, though I didn't get much feedback.

I've been doing NIH funded neuroscience/neurophysiology research for ~2 years so far -- since I stepped foot on campus (so far, piloted my own project and presented at 6 conferences) and just began doing work in a microbiology lab; I'm president of an on-campus club about mental health awareness (vice president last year) and was elected to be apart of the National Student Advisory Committee for the club's national office; I did a 6 month internship at a neuropsychology facility for neurological disorders and TBI freshman year; I ride for two ambulance squads as an EMT-B (one while I'm home, one on campus); I'm treasurer of a psychology honors society; I work as a science, psychology and math tutor for kids with documented mental and developmental disabilities and participate in a peer-coaching program; Since January, I've been working with a vascular neurologist in her practice 1 day a week while shadowing her and ER doctors in the hospital another day; and I lifeguard/first-aid during the summer.

My adviser told me that while I do a lot, nothing in my application so far demonstrates a desire to serve the community. She suggested I do Meals on Wheels or something related.

Is this valid advice, or do you guys find EMS, tutoring and the club I run as sufficient community service? Is there anything that's patently missing? I ask because intend to apply to both MD and MD/PhD programs next spring, meaning I will be studying for the MCAT most of next year. I'll also be applying to a SURP program next summer if I don't study abroad.

Advice?
I don't think it is a valid advice, but if you are really paranoid, go do something "community-related".
 
Aug 22, 2009
446
1
Status
Medical Student
One of the reasons I never got involved in these community volunteer programs is because everyone who's seriously considering pre-med at my school does them. If everyone does them, how much value could they hold?

Since I've only recently considered an MD/PhD, how much experience do applicants generally have?
Depends on the extent of what you do. Volunteering for some food bank or tutoring program or what not, holds nothing. Now if you did something something amazing, then yes it matters...

Same thing for research. Everyone does it. Now if you published a few papers (much higher props for top journals and esp first authors) / abstracts / etc. you stand out.

If you want to get into med schools, and esp the top ones: there's really one formula that works. Be excellent in every single checklist department or above average in most and absolutely outstanding in one (something that will distinguish you from everyone else)...

If you're an URM or have an amazing story (coming from someone who reads PS, most people don't even though they think they do)...that's a different story.
 
OP
The KM
Jan 23, 2012
15
0
Status
Pre-Medical
It's great to do things for yourself and build your resume as you build your character - this is an essential part of the medical school application process - but remember admissions committees are searching for a hint of altruism in your application as well. While it won't be nearly as important to M.D./Ph.D. programs as M.D. programs, they will still want to see civic engagement and interest in your community. Your tutoring activities may qualify, but it depends on the length of your tenure with the program. You clearly have a passion for research, but if you're looking to improve your application you should focus on demonstrating a solid commitment to community service by volunteering in a position unrelated to medicine for two to four hours each week for a year or more.
It's not that I'm reluctant to be involved in my community or participate in anything that won't benefit me. As a freshman, I felt I could make a bigger difference in a research lab that I'm passionate about, or on the ambulance where I get to interact with patients directly, than on trips to soup kitchens. I chose to tutor disadvantaged students because I've witnessed classified students attempt classes like calculus or physics and withdraw from them because of the way it is taught.

Your suggestion sounds like a nice idea. I think I'd enjoy volunteering on a site somewhere a couple days a week. Also, each of the activities I do is current and an enormous amount of work to balance -- that's why I got offended. It takes more than ruminating about medical school admissions to attend 3-4 meetings a week, work with a physician twice a week, run experiments in the lab on weekends, and tutor for 6 hours a week without having your heart in it. Especially while maintaining a 4.0 cGPA.

Depends on the extent of what you do. Volunteering for some food bank or tutoring program or what not, holds nothing. Now if you did something something amazing, then yes it matters...

Same thing for research. Everyone does it. Now if you published a few papers (much higher props for top journals and esp first authors) / abstracts / etc. you stand out.

If you want to get into med schools, and esp the top ones: there's really one formula that works. Be excellent in every single checklist department or above average in most and absolutely outstanding in one (something that will distinguish you from everyone else)....
It's that common, huh. Too bad. I have two different abstracts with my name on it (one as second author), and I believe I am on a paper that will be submitted this July. This summer I intend to work as hard as possible to generate data for my PI, particularly since we're seeing some amazing things.

I don't have my heart set on any top-tier schools, though it would be nice. This may seem like a stupid question, but how is "absolutely outstanding" defined? Until now, I feel like I've put in 100% into everything I've done, though I apparently come across as a cookie cutter still.

You are a cookie cutter applicant. Welcome to reality.
I suspect you've managed to do something incredible yourself as an undergrad that you'd like to offer as help?
 
Last edited:

Aerus

Elemental Alchemist
7+ Year Member
Apr 21, 2012
3,222
2,368
Status
Medical Student
While I'm aware many pre-medical students come across this way (many at my school do), I actually take offense to this. You've decided to characterize me as a passionless, self-important student who stares at this forum with a checklist in hand. What, other than the fact that my activities are bullet-pointed, has you thinking that I do these things to add to my resume?

One of the reasons I never got involved in these community volunteer programs is because everyone who's seriously considering pre-med at my school does them. If everyone does them, how much value could they hold?
No, you never got involved in these community volunteer programs because you haven't found a project that captures your passion.

I don't want to offend you, but be careful with your words. They can definitely be misinterpreted. Saying that you don't want to volunteer because everyone does them actually DOES make you seem like a check list, passionless applicant.


With that aside, do what you want. You obviously have done a lot that shows you have things in life you care. If you feel your activities clearly demonstrate your passion and interests, that will be enough. Adding volunteer hours for the sake of it isn't going to help.

Now, if you find a clinical volunteer opportunity that you find interesting, that's a whole different story.
 

Morsetlis

I wish I were a dentist
7+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2010
4,924
39
31
The "Garden" State
Status
Resident [Any Field]
No, you never got involved in these community volunteer programs because you haven't found a project that captures your passion.

I don't want to offend you, but be careful with your words. They can definitely be misinterpreted. Saying that you don't want to volunteer because everyone does them actually DOES make you seem like a check list, passionless applicant.


With that aside, do what you want. You obviously have done a lot that shows you have things in life you care. If you feel your activities clearly demonstrate your passion and interests, that will be enough. Adding volunteer hours for the sake of it isn't going to help.

Now, if you find a clinical volunteer opportunity that you find interesting, that's a whole different story.
I second this.
 
OP
The KM
Jan 23, 2012
15
0
Status
Pre-Medical
No, you never got involved in these community volunteer programs because you haven't found a project that captures your passion.

I don't want to offend you, but be careful with your words. They can definitely be misinterpreted. Saying that you don't want to volunteer because everyone does them actually DOES make you seem like a check list, passionless applicant.


With that aside, do what you want. You obviously have done a lot that shows you have things in life you care. If you feel your activities clearly demonstrate your passion and interests, that will be enough. Adding volunteer hours for the sake of it isn't going to help.

Now, if you find a clinical volunteer opportunity that you find interesting, that's a whole different story.
Sorry about that. What I meant to say was that because so many students participate in these community service programs at my school, it has become more like a checklist item than a genuine desire to service humanity.

I really don't have any intention to soak up hours for the heck of it. Again, I apologize if the way I went about this thread makes me seem that way. I just found it interesting that running a club about mental health awareness and working with the national office, volunteering countless hours on two ambulance squads, working in a therapy-based clinical environment, and tutoring/peer coaching students with LD, demonstrates no desire to service a community whatsoever.

If that's really how it seems and my adviser's perception is sound, then I'd like to do something to change that. That's why I'm here.