Medical How do you think I could improve my application to medical school?

Not open for further replies.


Staff member
5+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2013
Medical Student
Hi, thank you so much for even having this kind of thread available. I'm on a research co-op right now and will be graduating December 2019 with a biochem degree, and I was wondering what I can do to help boost my application (I'm looking to apply either next cycle or the year after)

White Female, MA Resident, MA state school
cGPA: 3.65 (can increase this to ~3.68)
sGPA: 3.50 (can increase this to ~3.58)
MCAT: 511 (128/130/127/126)

Research: summer 2018 internship in a biophysics lab on campus (~200 hours), spring-summer 2019 co-op in translational sciences at a pharmaceutical company (~1000 hours) (Edit: I forgot to mention, I'll likely be on a publication from the co-op, not first author)

Clinical: 100 hours in ER (greeting/directing/getting food and blankets for patients), planning on becoming a medical scribe either next semester or after graduating

Physician Shadowing: 40 hours clinical pharmacist specializing with diabetes patients

Non-clinical Volunteering: Activities at a care and rehab center through neuroscience club (~25 hours), calltaker at a suicide prevention hotline (~100 hours)

Extracurricular Activities:
Marching band (~600 hours + 300 hours on field staff + 300 hours section leader)
TA for intro biochemistry lab (1 semester, 100 hours)
Will most likely have an honors thesis completed (~social science based, 100-150 hours?)

Employment History:
Worked security starting freshman year (1200 hours + 400 hours as a supervisor, returning next semester for another ~100 as supervisor)
Worked in HR for a medical group (1 summer, 250 hours)
Live-in peer mentor for freshmen (3 semesters, 600 hours)

Concert band (~200 hours)
Pep band (~100 hours)

I was specifically wondering if scribing can count as both clinical and shadowing hours, or if it's not good for either of them. I also feel like the suicide prevention hotline is in a grey area of clinical/non-clinical, since we get a decent number of callers with mental and physical illnesses and we discuss their well-being. I'm looking to apply to schools within my stats range (primarily MD, maybe a couple DO) and I'm hoping to get an idea of where I'm at in terms of non-stats and what I can do to be a more appealing applicant.

Edit: I also am curious how I can phrase this where I don't over- or under-play it: I've been an EMT for the band for the past two years (I have my EMT-B certification). There were 3-4 of us for 400 band members, and what we did ranged from helping with dehydration and twisted ankles to helping administer epi-pens or glucose tabs as necessary. We were technically on call all hours that we were at band but realistically nothing happened at 90% of the rehearsals and being an EMT wasn't my primary purpose for being there. How should I go about defining hours for it? Is it even worth it to put it down as clinical, or should it go under extracurriculars? Thanks so much!

Thank you!
I'm not sure being a greeter of sorts is actually clinical even though it's in an ER since you're not participating in the care of a patient. Being in the ER doesn't necessarily equate to clinical (i.e. greeting/directing, security, administration).

As for the scribing question, yes that is clinical - it is not exactly shadowing. Also never list the same thing twice under two different categories as it alludes to doing twice the work, which is false (i.e 40 hours presented as "40 shadowing" and "40 scribing" alludes to 80 hours of work done, when you actually only did 40) - so list this as clinical.

Listed under physician shadowing, you list pharmacy. While it's shadowing, and both important and great that you saw another profession, it is not physician shadowing. I don't know if it's specified on the app as "physician shadowing" or just "shadowing" or what have you because it's been like 5 or so years since I've done the app, but if it specifies for physician, that would not be listed there.

Have you done anything with the EMT other than work with the band? From what you describe, it seems like you're part of the band and already there for that, thus not really putting in the time as an EMT in that regard, with the exception of what seems to be about 10% of the time. I think you can list is as being clinical, but I'd only account for the time spent actually performing duties of an EMT. If you specify being an EMT for the band as well as being part of the band, I'd consider "docking" the hours as an EMT from the total hours of being with the band as to not double dip, but that's just me. I'd include it though.

As for things to improve on, its going to be the volunteering and the clinical experience as that seems quite limited, and physician shadowing as your only experience listed is with a pharmacist, not a physician, who have different roles in the healthcare team.
Some additional commentary:

1) From the description provided, I would call ER greeter a "clinical experience."

2) Many schools expect to see dedicated shadowing of physicians, so you can witness what their whole day is like, not just what they do in the presence of patients. It is advisable to include an office-based primary care doc on your list.

3) The name of the category is "Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation." While you can list the pharmacist shadowing, you should add at least that many hours of dedicated physician shadowing besides (about 50 hours being the average listed for docs).
Thank you for adding on! For shadowing, I was thinking of doing ~20 hours each with a primary care doc and 2-3 other specialties (whoever I can connect with and can ask).

1) Would it be better to focus more time with one doctor instead?

2) Also, do MD schools prefer MD shadowing over DO, or is it essentially the same (as long as I don't only shadow DOs)?
1) The plan you've outlined sounds fine. You could do a single specialty, if it were primary care, or multiple, as opportunity allows.

2) MD schools won't care if you list MD and/or DO. DO schools really like to see DO though.
Not open for further replies.