Focus on clinical hours or research for my EC’s?

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New Member
Sep 6, 2021
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Hello everybody,

I wanted to get some advice on what y’all would focus in terms of EC’s to build the best application I can. Medical school is the goal for me, and I would be happy with getting into anywhere because I just really want to help people in the hardest of times, but I also want to shoot for the stars… call me a dreamer🤗.

I am a non-traditional pre-med student, and I have the opportunity to either work for a neuroscience research lab as an research assistant or as a behavioral tech for kiddos with ASD next school semester. I am continuing to finish my pre-reqs as a DIY post-back this next semester (physics, statistics) as a part time student. I would love to do both, but I am doubting that I’ll have enough time to do both. I’m also not in a rush to apply, I want to make sure I have my best application when I apply to maximize my chances for success.

I’ll give my current stats/background, then a pros and cons list.

Ethnicity/Background/Gender: Male East Asian
Undergrad: State School
cGPA: 4.0+ (probably like a 3.99 on application since you don’t get a bump for A+, and I got very few A-).
sGPA: 4.0+ (Again, probably like a 3.99, I got one A- in one science class).
Pre-reqs left: Physics 1/2 + lab, stats
EC: Taught classroom music for 2+ years, taught kindergarten for 1 year, taught after-school music programs at low SES schools ~2 years, scribed for ~6 months (~200 hours), hospice volunteer (~10 hours, just started), reading in schools (~70 hours), chruch volunteer (~1000 hours, mentoring/music/community outreach), psychology research experience + 2nd author pub (~75 hours), gigging musician for 8+ years (easily + ~1000 hours)

Pros/Cons for Research Assistant
- Very supportive PI who wants to be a mentor to me
- Very productive lab with multiple publications a year
- Opportunity to publish
- Might open up the possibility of pursuing a MD/PhD (always pondered it, but never had the research opportunities to even consider it)
- Not clinical at all, hard science lab.
- Take away time from seeking paying clinical experience (will have approximately ~200 hours from scribing and ~300 from hospice volunteering by the time I apply).

Pros/Cons for Behavioral Tech
- I have tons of education experience, and I feel like being a BT would be a good step towards medicine that fits my narrative. I switched into pre-med because helping students with needs such as ASD and childhood diabetes was much more exciting to me than teaching music.
- My research in undergrad had to do with ABA therapy with students with ASD.
- I get to keep working with students.
- I could count it as clinical hours (I know there is some debate about this, but with my hospice and scribing experience, I’m hoping that won’t be an issue).
- Hours are less flexible than research assisting
- Might not be look at favorably by Adcoms as clinical experience if this was the majority of my clinical expierence.

Thank you for any feedback!

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Blueprint Med School

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2+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2019
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I would personally go with the research position since having that PI/opportunity for pubs will help a great deal in your app.

Kevin W, MCAT Tutor
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the evil queen of numbers
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
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with your GPA, you'll need a terrific MCAT or the GPA will look phony, like the result of grade inflation. With an almost 4.0 and a great MCAT, you'll have a good shot at the private, top tier schools, and may have lower ranked schools setting your application aside as "yield protection" (not interviewing candidates that they don't have a good chance of landing). But, the coin of the realm at the top schools is research so you'd be better off doing that rather than doing something that, as you point out, some adcoms will not even consider clinical.
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