How soon should I start looking for clinical experience?

Oct 7, 2020
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Hello all!

I'm in my first semester as a sophomore, still pursuing my bachelor's. However, due to my study abroad plans, I am worried about not having enough time to prepare for Med School - with the MCAT, clinical and volunteering experience, and shadowing.

I plan to study abroad in Latin America for a semester in the fall of next year. I would be able to seek volunteering and clinical experience; I am already fluent in the host language. For shadowing, it may be tougher to find opportunities abroad - should I search for shadowing opportunities now, or after I return towards the end of next year? Another issue is that many doctors in my area have closed down shadowing due to the pandemic and are still looking into ways to make it virtual.

As for the MCAT, I plan to take it around Apr 2022. I've seen people say they studied for it for months to a whole year -- is a few months enough to prepare to take the MCAT?
Any advice would be appreciated as my plans are all over the place!
 

candbgirl

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Jul 14, 2005
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Don’t plan to use any volunteering( clinical or nonclinical) that you might do while in Latin America. This should all be done in the US . The same for shadowing. While it would be okay to compare the experiences in Latin America and what you do in the US, but the expectation is that the requirements for your med school app be done in the US. You need at least 200 hours of clinical experience with direct patient contact. You don’t mention Nonclinical volunteering but you need at least 200 hours of service to the unserved/underserved in your community. You can wait until you return for your shadowing . Hopefully by 2022 COVID will be under better control. And you really only need 50 hours of shadowing as long as some of it is with a primary care doc. As to the MCAT, you only want to take it one time. Don’t plan on taking it until you have reached your goal score on several FL practice tests under testing conditions.
 
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Gilakend

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Aug 24, 2012
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Now would be best. 4 hours a week for 2 years looks a lot better than 400 hours in a single summer. I think it's the most important thing to start early if you can. Shadowing just take it as you get it, if you volunteer somewhere chances are you will hear about shadowing opportunities.
 
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Mar 14, 2019
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Hello all!

I'm in my first semester as a sophomore, still pursuing my bachelor's. However, due to my study abroad plans, I am worried about not having enough time to prepare for Med School - with the MCAT, clinical and volunteering experience, and shadowing.

I plan to study abroad in Latin America for a semester in the fall of next year. I would be able to seek volunteering and clinical experience; I am already fluent in the host language. For shadowing, it may be tougher to find opportunities abroad - should I search for shadowing opportunities now, or after I return towards the end of next year? Another issue is that many doctors in my area have closed down shadowing due to the pandemic and are still looking into ways to make it virtual.

As for the MCAT, I plan to take it around Apr 2022. I've seen people say they studied for it for months to a whole year -- is a few months enough to prepare to take the MCAT?
Any advice would be appreciated as my plans are all over the place!
Assuming you are reasonably proficient in science, there is no way you should need to study for the MCAT for more than 3 or 4 months. If you are like most people, you will burn out way before then, and it's really hard to retain information over a full year. Most people spend around 1-2 months on content review, and another 1-2 months on practice questions and FLs.
 
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drducky.

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Nov 13, 2018
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Remember it looks a lot better to volunteer once a month over 4 years than cramming everything a few months before you submit your app.
 
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