It seems that *everyone* at my school is involved in some kind of extracurriculars, and they are generally very enthusiastic about what they do outside of the classroom without thinking too much about residency down the road. If you feel more comfortable building up that "academic buffer" first, then do it. There's plenty of time later on for other activities once you settle down...
Extracurricular activities in med school exist purely for your own enjoyment, and to foster a sense of community.
While it's important that you are interested in things besides medicine, your involvement (or lack thereof) in extracurriculars is unlikely to affect your chances of getting a given residency. While there are exceptions, residency directors are likely to be far more interested in your clinical evaluations, letters of recommendation, board scores, and research experience.
I know alot of the ECs here at Temple are geared towards community outreach and maintaining the drive to actually want to be a doctor. Alot of students are involved in a community student-run clinic near the Temple campus (ie rough hood) where you can, as a first year, get some real hands on attn with patients, something you might not actually be able to acheive to easily during the first two years.
I signed right up, def. sounds rewarding.
Alot of these organizations require 2 hrs a week or so, thats 2 hrs less of say, posting on sdn, it really isnt that huge of an impingement on your study schedule.
i'm on the residency application end of things now. My advice is dont' do anything just for your application, but once you feel academically stable, pick an activity you are interested in and try it out. Start with something simple that only takes a few hours a months.
The biggest advantage to participating in extracurriculars is that it reminds you that there are people and things outside of medical school, which is easy to forget if you stay in the library all day. It keeps you being a real person, not just a med student.
As far as what residency directors look for - I've heard from many of my friends who went through the interviews last year that the majority of their interviews focused on who they were outside of their transcripts. The academic record speaks for itself, but the interview is for finding out if you are a cool enough person for people to want to work with. So keep some sort of outside interests - sports, hobbies, anything that keeps you from becoming a boring person who no one wants to work with.
It's the whole picture, not just one thing. If you like research, do it. Research seems more important in the more competetive residencies like optho, derm, ENT, etc. But there are plenty of people who've gotten spots in those without research.
Yes, I think leadership positions show some good qualities that people look for in choosing residents, but again, only do this if you are really interested in doing it, not just for your application.
I agree with above posters. If you do an extracurricular just to be doing one, you are probably going to be miserable. I think that would be worse than NOT doing one. Same goes for research...if you think it sucks, do something else with your time. And you don't have to do everything first year. Give yourself time to figure out how much you need to study, etc. (I'm only a 1st year, but this is what I've gathered from older students).
I agree. Do something you like. There's plenty of time in medical school if you're good at time management. I'm planning on tutoring underprivileged kids for a couple of hours every week once I get my study schedule down. It's something I really enjoyed doing during undergrad and want to continue. Plus, kids love me!