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How much clinical experience is enough?

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sunset823

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I'm going to be applying to med schools in July, and am planning on starting some shadowing/volunteering at a local hospital in February - this will be my first real clinical experience - My excuse is that I've not really found the time until now, and my interest in international issues (infectious disease, EM) wasn't served where I went to ug, but I have a lot of opportunities now here in Boston - is 5-7 months before apps go out enough to show that you actually want to and know how to see patients?
 

wolfram241

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Enough to fake it in your essays and interviews. IMO, this is one area where a lot of people go overboard. I remember a thread a while back where someone got their panties in a bunch that they had a one month gap of not volunteering in a hospital over a three year period. Give me a break...
 

Mr. Tee

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I only had 6 weeks of clinical (about 100 hrs) and I have gotten accepted.
 

LifetimeDoc

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They just want you to see what it's like in a real clinic and what it's like to see real patients. Some people decide medicine is not for them when they realize it's not like TV or that they have to deal with....ewwwww...sick people with annoying, real-world problems. :laugh:

I for one really enjoy volunteering and being in the Emergency Department at our local trauma center, so I've been going there every week for almost 3 years, not because it'll "look good" on my application but because I like it. It's a great feeling that you can help the staff and patients out just a little in such a crazy environment.
 

docdude

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this is the weirdest question. if you think you've done enough/too much clinical work, why go to medicine? there's no hour requirement, it's just about how much you learn about being a doctor and how you want to be as a doctor.
 

PugMD

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this is the weirdest question. if you think you've done enough/too much clinical work, why go to medicine? there's no hour requirement, it's just about how much you learn about being a doctor and how you want to be as a doctor.

True - while this may be enough time to BS your way through the admissions cycle, you really want to get your hands dirty in an attempt to discover whether or not you are on the correct path. I looked at it the same way when I was in undergrad - what do I need to convince others of my worthiness - and now I've realized that it's more important to reinforce my motivations for such a demanding career choice.
 

ITRGTR

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btw, just so you know, some interviewers DO pay attention to when students do their clinical experience. when i was interviewing at one of the schools, the doctor was pleased to see that i've been volunteering/shadowing throughout college rather than squeezing it all in at the end just so i can put it on the application. I'm not saying it's bad to do it all at the last minute, after all, it may be the case that you weren't interested in medicine until recently... but i guess some doctors may not see it that way.
 

PugMD

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btw, just so you know, some interviewers DO pay attention to when students do their clinical experience. when i was interviewing at one of the schools, the doctor was pleased to see that i've been volunteering/shadowing throughout college rather than squeezing it all in at the end just so i can put it on the application. I'm not saying it's bad to do it all at the last minute, after all, it may be the case that you weren't interested in medicine until recently... but i guess some doctors may not see it that way.

Good point. Now that you are at the end of your UG you don't have another choice on this matter, I'd get as much in as possible to try and make up for the late timing.
 

Steiner

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From my experiences, you need at least a few hours more than I have, and the number seems to rise every year.
 

Amemus

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There are a lot of hours in a week :) You could get a couple hundred hours in no time at all. Moreover, I think taking very long shifts for a few months gives you better clinical experience than taking one short shift per week for a few years.
 

Antares

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2000 hrs/year would be sufficient if you want to go to your state school.
 

nubbey24

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I think the number of hours is almost completely irrelevent. My experience has told me that ADCOMS want substance to your experience not quantity. I personally did not do very much, but what I did do, I had a lot to say about. Total hours between shadowing and volunteering for me was right around 100hrs (only 30hrs. of that was volunteering in a hospital). My advice would be to do something you enjoy rather then wasting your time stocking shelves, and cleaning beds. You will have nothing to say about the experience in the interview otherwise. Spend your time shadowing physicians, and interacting with them. Way more benificial in my opinion. Beyond that I would say pick something you enjoy and stick with it. Whether it be playing the guitar or playing on a club sports team. They can tell if you are passionate about the things you put down or not.
 

PugMD

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2000 hrs/year would be sufficient if you want to go to your state school.

Wow - I'm glad I didn't get advice like this when I was hunting clinicals. I ended up with 500 hours as an EMTB and it was all the clinical time I needed for my state school.
 

Depakote

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I think the answer would be that you could always have more... so just go with whatever you feel comfortable with.

I've been asked in interviews about presumed gaps in my clinical experience now that I'm working full time. (despite what I consider a strong background)
 
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