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How much is enough when it comes to EC

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by iatros13, 09.29.14.

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  1. iatros13

    iatros13 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    It is funny how all the plans and all the volunteering you think you have time for... just doesn't always work out. I am worried I don't have enough in the way of EC to meet whatever the threshold is. Of course, like many people taking this journey down the non-trad path, I work full time and it makes it a challenge when you add in school about 3/4 time (and two teenagers... Lord help me!).

    This is what I have:

    Volunteering at local hospital - about 60 hours

    Summer research project - about 80 hours (not medical related, it was more ecology research, but interesting)

    Medical Mission Trip to Dominican Republic- this was 5 days of clinics in some rural and poor villages, I was teaching about health and hygiene - we saw well over 800 patients... (how does this count as "hours"?.. if so... 8 hours a day x 5 would be 40 hours... we were gone for 9 days, but some was travel and we had some free time).

    Volunteering at Church, teaching children - over 100 hours total, but its only 2 to 3 hours a month

    I don't have any shadowing hours, but I am planning to work on that next semester - too many challenging classes to add something else in right now. I might be able to do this some over the Christmas break. I know a doctor who went on the trip I mentioned and he has agreed to let me shadow. Is it important to shadow several different doctors, or getting a significant number of hours with the same doctor is ok?

    How much consideration is there for having an already full schedule? - I really am not trying to be a whiner... it is really tough to fit more in... I don't have a problem giving my time, I just need some more to give!

    Thanks everyone for advice in advance. I am planning to take the MCAT next Spring and hope to apply during 2015 since I will graduate with my BS in Spring 2016. Would it be smarter to wait until I can spend more time on ECs? I really don't want to put off applying another year... Getting a late start makes it feel like every year counts more.
     
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  3. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    You need > 100. 200 would be even better

    Volunteering at local hospital - about 60 hours

    That's about two weeks of work, you'll need much more than that. It doesn't have to be medicine related, only something that teaches you about the scientific method
    Summer research project - about 80 hours (not medical related, it was more ecology research, but interesting)

    These don't count. Most people either try to pass off vacations as mission trips.
    Medical Mission Trip to Dominican Republic- this was 5 days of clinics in some rural and poor villages, I was teaching about health and hygiene - we saw well over 800 patients... (how does this count as "hours"?.. if so... 8 hours a day x 5 would be 40 hours... we were gone for 9 days, but some was travel and we had some free time).

    This sounds OK, but if it's religious instruction, like Sunday School class, it doesn't count much either.
    Service need not be "unique". If you can alleviate suffering in your community through service to the poor, homeless, illiterate, fatherless, etc, you are meeting an otherwise unmet need and learning more about the lives of the people (or types of people) who will someday be your patients.
    Examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, crisis hotlines, soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless or women’s shelter, after-school tutoring for students or coaching a sport in a poor school district, teaching ESL to adults at a community center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or Meals on Wheels.

    Volunteering at Church, teaching children - over 100 hours total, but its only 2 to 3 hours a month


    Either is fine, but getting different perspectives is always a good thing.
    I know a doctor who went on the trip I mentioned and he has agreed to let me shadow. Is it important to shadow several different doctors, or getting a significant number of hours with the same doctor is ok?

    We expect you to be good at time mgt and know what your limits are. You are expected to do well no matter what you do. We don't expect a Cell paper or a Nobel Peace Prize.
    How much consideration is there for having an already full schedule? - I really am not trying to be a whiner... it is really tough to fit more in... I don't have a problem giving my time, I just need some more to give!
     
    brainnurse likes this.
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

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    Keep in mind that your job counts as one of your ECs, and it's almost certainly your most major EC in terms of time spent. So be sure to list it as an EC on your app.

    Agree with Goro that more hospital volunteering would be helpful in your case, especially since you don't have much shadowing experience. Also agree with him that it doesn't really matter if you shadow one doc or a few, but additional perspectives can be helpful.

    The research project is fine to list. It doesn't have to be medical research as long as it gives you a good taste of how science is done. Be aware, however, that as Goro alluded to, your research experience is inadequate if you are planning to apply to combined degree or research-focused programs. For regular MD or DO programs that do not have research experience as a prereq, your experience level is fine.

    I wouldn't list the medical mission trip as an EC on your app at all. Like Goro said, this kind of trip is basically a glorified vacation that primarily benefits you, not a true volunteering gig. It is also controversial in the medical community whether it is a good thing for Westerners to show up in third world countries for a week or two and give unsustainable aid that may ultimately do more long-term harm than good once the visitors leave. If you felt that you got a lot of meaningful experience from your trip, then I suggest discussing that experience in your PS. But my personal bias is in favor of premeds helping the underserved in their local community. Sadly, it is not necessary to travel to another country in order to find medically underserved people, as most of us practicing here in the South, or in any inner city, could easily tell you.

    I do disagree with Goro about the church class teaching. Personally, I always liked to see applicants with teaching experience, as teaching is a major part of the job description for physicians. It also sounds like this is something you are passionate about since you must have been doing it for >3 years in order to amass 100 hours at 2-3 hours per month. For both of those reasons, I would include this as an EC.
     
  5. iatros13

    iatros13 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you both for taking the time to respond!

    I totally understand what you mean about glorified vacation - I can see how it would seem that way and likely is that way at least some of the time. I don't have a problem not listing it as far as hours, but it was such a major experience for me. Actually getting a view like that into how amazingly different life can be. I don't think most people here in the US really understand what it is like to live in an environment where water is not safe to drink. I do agree that a week long trip and the medical care received won't be life changing in that regard for most - but there were things that I think may have impacted some people on a one-on-one level. However, there are definitely problems with the model, no doubt. And there are goals beyond that medical care too - I promise, I am not just trying to defend a system that I don't know a lot about. What I learned on that trip probably far outweighed how I helped others... Though one experience did stick with me. I was teaching about parasites and different ways we come in contact with them, etc. There was a mother with a two year old sitting in the front row.. After extensive talk about the importance of hand washing, I watched her start moving her baby's hand away from her mouth repeatedly. It was like she had not really considered that dirty hands in the mouth might have something to do with getting sick prior to that.

    That experience has a lot to do with things going on in my life now as well as a bent toward preventative medicine. I would like to include it in my PS - but I don't want to risk biasing someone against be because they may have strong opinions on the matter.

    The other thing is, I have a tendency to get involved with one-on-one help. A friend's brother, a young person who worked with me, a niece, her friend... Just a few young people (teens generally) over the years who we have opened our home to and tried to give support and direction as they move toward adulthood. This stuff takes time and emotional resources as well - and is really where I find my passion for helping others.... But it isn't something that is part of an organization or other thing that it makes sense to list.

    Anyway - I guess I got a bit off track.

    Thank you again! I will get back on track with hospital volunteering, I stopped for a while recently because my grandmother was coming to the end of her battle with cancer, and there is nothing on the planet worth more than that time with her! I think I can push it past 100 hours and get going with the shadowing soon!
     
  6. shouldigomd

    shouldigomd 2+ Year Member

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    People put way too much into EC's in my opinion... Especially shadowing. The goal isn't to reach "100 hours" in my opinion but to rather do something that is meaningful and show you can do something other than study. With kids / your experiences thus far im sure you have the EC's covered. I would invest your energy into doing what is most important .... which is performing in your classes / MCAT.

    People throw all sorts of BS EC's on their resumes ... keep that in mind. What separates them is actually doing something you enjoy. That will show on your essays and interviews. It doesn't have to be medical. I worked with animals and never thought it would help me get into med school the way it did. I had so many experiences and stories to draw from come essay / interview time.
     

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