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Extensive, but non medical, extra-currics

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by realitybias, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    So, I am at a crossroads right now... I can go one of two routes. I can go the traditional route, shadow a doctor, get involved in lots of medical, doctorly things. I'm a biomedical engineering major, and I've been doing very well in my classes. My teacher decided to give me a job, so I've been working for him for a while. He apparently really likes what I've been doing for the program, so here's what he offered me...

    I'll need to stay completely devoted to engineering over the next two years. I'm helping him develop a new curriculum for engineering students. I'm giving multiple presentations in front of hundreds of people, and gathering a student committee to write to an academic journal. I'm writing homework problems, designing the web page, and the graphic art... He promised me great recommendations anywhere, from himself, the dean, and others. I've got a free ride to become an officer of an engineering society. This is all great, for non-medical ECs. The big problem is, this will pretty much wipe out any chance of me getting significant medicine-related ECs. I've got it scheduled so that I'll have all of my med school prereqs, plus more (I'm taking microbiology for the first time this summer). What would you guys do, you think this is a good idea? I'm honestly extremely excited about this..
     
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  3. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    Just do a little bit of shadowing so that you can answer the "why do you want to be a doctor" question without making reference to Scrubs. Other than that, it might even be preferable to do something substantial (and even interesting), rather than spend a hundred hours watching someone listen to someone's heart or fetching blankets for patients in the ED. Sounds like an exciting project! Best of luck in the process.

    Anka
     
  4. AnEyeLikeMars

    AnEyeLikeMars Member
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    If you really want to do it, do it. Adcomms appreciate passion. However, they'll also want to know that you have some idea of what a medical career is like and whether it's a good fit for you. I would really try to find in some medically related ECs. It doesn't have to be huge, but enough so that you can answer the questions: what is medicine like? is it the right field for me? (you need to be able to answer these questions for yourself, not just in interviews). I'm sure you can find a few hours a week to volunteer somewhere. Oh, and focus on quality, not quantity.
     
  5. Droopy Snoopy

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    Go with the latter, it's unique, will net you great recs, and is more interesting in a ps and interview than the pre-recorded volunteered-at-the-soup-kitchen experiences they hear from everybody else. But try to get some clinical exposure, even if it's a couple of weekends in the summer.
     
  6. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    If this floats your boat, go for it. Maybe it will lead you down a road you'd never considered before and that will be a good fit for you.

    However, if at some point you think you'd like to apply to medical school you will need to tell the adcom "why medicine". You need to have life experiences (as an adult -- not shadowing granddad when you were eight). If your proposed work will preclude you from getting any clinical experience, then you aren't going to be able to convince an adcom that you know what medicine is about and that you are making a mature decision to pursue a career as a physician.

    If this is exciting for you, it is usually a good clue that it is a good fit for you and maybe a consideration as you consider future careers.
     
  7. Nombre Falso

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    There are plenty of passionate, talented people who apply to medical school.

    Despite your obvious talents, adcoms will still want to know if you have an idea what you are getting into in terms of pursuing a career in MEDICINE? Why not become an engineer instead?
     
  8. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    If there is one thing that engineering has taught me, it's why I want to go into medicine. You see, engineering is about complex systems, how they are built, and how they break down. When problems occur in a system, you have to isolate them, study them, determine why they occur, and determine the best way to fix them. I relate this so much to the medical field... the human body, like a machine, is complex. Like a machine, it is a sum of many, many individual parts working together for a common goal. I really think the education I am getting in engineering is helpful in my medical aspirations. That being said, I'd love to get involved in medical things, but the only problem is that developing a curriculum is very time consuming. I never really knew what went on behind the closed doors until now, and I've got a lot of respect for teachers after doing what I'm doing.

    Perhaps I can get in a bit of shadowing, but like I said, there's no way I'll be able to get deep into medical ECs with this.
     
  9. Nombre Falso

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    There are other careers where intelligent people analyze complex systems. Adcoms will REQUIRE you to answer "why medicine?" "why not something else?" Your response will carry little weight if you don't have any experience in medically related activities.
     
  10. AnEyeLikeMars

    AnEyeLikeMars Member
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    I may be wrong, but the "doctor as a mechanic for the human body" angle is not a great answer. There's a human side to it too.

    Edit: This isn't a criticism or anything. I feel the same way as you do about the science of medicine. It's just that medicine is a people-oriented service industry, not just a scientific field.
     
  11. fusuke

    fusuke Junior Member
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    Anyone can spare 4 hours a week to work in the ER or other department in the hospital. It doesn't even have to be during the week. I used to volunteer during weekends.

    Now this might sound like padding ur resume or something but if you show committment i.e. volunteer consistently or in your case even work consistently then it would show motivation and persistence on your part.
     
  12. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    Its just the way I see it, eyelikemars. It's my own personal opinion and a motivating factor. I'm sure several people have their own motivations for the medical field and have gotten in, such as money. The deal is, I am already firmly committed to applying to med school, and I know that it is what I want to do with my life. As it stands right now, though, I love engineering as an undergraduate degree, because it deeply stimulates my mind and I really feel accomplished each time I figure out a problem and solve it. That's simply the way I feel. I don't think this will preclude me from medical school, but it may cut off my option to apply to higher tier schools that I would otherwise stand a fighting chance of getting into. I will do some medical ECs, because I want to, but I really, really think , after reading comments here and listening to friends, that getting really close to the dean, developing a new curriculum, and possibly getting published, and leading a student advisory committee, may just be exactly what I need to do.

    Lastly, remember what kind of engineering discipline I'm studying. Biomedical engineering. I'm quite honestly tempted to do BOTH, engineering AND medicine. I know a few biomedical engineering masters and medical doctors that have combined degrees. If anything, that's my answer to the "Why not engineering?" question.
     
  13. AnEyeLikeMars

    AnEyeLikeMars Member
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    I don't think it will preclude you at all. I'm just suggesting that you think about these things because adcomms will. Also think about how to answer the question "Why not a PhD in biomed engineering? Why the MD?" (again, not questioning your motives, just a question you should be able to answer).

    Also, the kind of activity that you're talking about would probably improve your chances at a higher tier school because they tend to emphasize research (and want applicants who have a desire to go into academic medicine).

    Like you, I came to medicine initially from the science side rather than the humanistic perspective. No one here would consider my ECs impressive, but I had enough to show that I am making an informed decision (and luckily Duke agreed :) )

    Good luck, take the engineering position and get some minimal clinical experience.
     
  14. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    Thats awesome, Eye. I really appreciate your input on this. Best case scenario, this position takes up less time than advertised, and I get to move on to clinical things later on in my college career. Right now, though, what is most important to me is getting my name out there and getting heavily involved. If I've got the entire department and the dean of the college behind me, I hope that will help me go far. I really have a lot of respect for what doctors do, I've lived the patients side far too much when I was a kid and teenager. It's a dream of mine to become a doctor.. Engineering is just my realization of the practical side.
     
  15. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member
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    I would be sure to volunteer in a clinical setting for about 4 hours per week. The engineering project is interesting, but it's not medical experience. Also, since it's not medical, I would include it in your applications, but do not emphasize it.
     
  16. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    Gary5, it's not medical, that's right, but thats the reason I'm going to med school. I dont expect to fully understand or even ACT like I fully understand what it's like to be a doctor, whether or not I get tons of medical experience in my extra-curricular activities. All I can truly claim to understand is what it is like to serve, and what it is like to lead. Anyone who says otherwise without actually living the life of a doctor, moreso than just following one around, is misleading themselves. I will emphasize this, because it is something that I have lead, something that I have developed, and it is a part of who I am. If an admissions committee cannot accept that I have a huge extra interest in a non-medical field, then so be it. It is my job to integrate my knowledge with my pursuit of medicine, not theirs, and I hope beyond hope to show them that I am fully capable of it.

    IF this means going to a lower-tiered school than what I could have otherwise achieved, it will be unfortunate, but necessary. In the end, we're all going to have the same degree anyway, but I will not compromise myself and I will hide nothing about who I am. Engineering is a passion. Medicine is a passion. I do not believe the two are mutually exclusive, and perhaps one day, I can achieve my goal of integrating the two together in my own life.
     
  17. mave

    mave Chill out, man.
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    I think we can all get behind the idea that having some clinical experience is important. You should do some shadowing, and you should have some kind of regular clinical experience (I don't think it has to be weekly - mine sure wasn't, but it was a significant amount of time that I invest when I do it). That said, anything you do long-term, make sure that you love it.

    But by no means should you devote your ECs entirely to the realm of medicine. Just as much as they want to know that you want to be a doctor and have some semblance of an idea of what the lifestyle is like, I would say that's enough. Keep up with your engineering project, and only become really invested in the ECs that you're actually interested in. Choose some other, non-medical experiences that allow you to serve and to lead. It will give you loads more to talk about at your interviews, and because you will have enjoyed everything you did, you'll sound much more passionate than otherwise.

    So, I
     
  18. gujuDoc

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    Realitybias,

    Cant you use a summer to get in some volunteering/shadowing?? Or will those be taken by this project of yours too?? Surely you could fit 2-3 hours a week volunteering somewhere.
     
  19. realitybias

    realitybias Member
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    In the end, I think I can do both, but like I said, the medical ECs will take a hit and I wont be able to really focus on them. shadowing for 3-4 hours a week is easy enough, but is that enough? I mean honestly, my choices are going to be rather limited. All the same, I'm becoming an integral part to a new curriculum, writing to journals, doing a lot.. I am interested in both, but I dont want to just be another pre-med student who went through clinicals, shadowing, and did a little research.. it just seems too prepackaged and sealed to me. I want to actually CHANGE something.
     

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