Medical How to Focus Your Interests for Medical School

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inGenius Prep

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10+ Year Member
May 26, 2013
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As you all know, applying to med school requires years of dedication. In the midst of fulfilling pre-med requirements and studying for the MCAT, it can be easy to slip into a “check the box” mentality with your extracurriculars for med school. What does checking the boxes look like? Take the activities of Candidate X for example: president of the alpha-alpha club, building homes with Habitat for Humanity during spring break, playing violin in the civic symphony, and volunteering at a hospital gift shop weekly. Candidate X sounds like a great person. But Candidate X won’t stand out when applying to medical school. Unfortunately, Candidate X is like many others.

Medical schools are looking for students that show intellect, innovation, altruism, and community engagement. Activities like research, clinical work, volunteering, and teaching have become ways to capture these qualities and gain experience in the medical field. But the reality is, most medical school applicants will have similar experiences. So, how can you focus your interests before applying to medical school? How can you differentiate yourself in this ultra-competitive pool?

Take the time to reflect on what’s at the heart of this dream of yours. Why medicine? Why do you want to help others for the rest of your life? If it’s tough to articulate what’s behind your long-term goal of becoming an MD, think about what is important to you right now. Let your passions determine how you spend your time before medical school. Start with what you care about, and then think about creative ways to intersect your interests with medicine.

Here are a few examples of what focusing your interests might look like:
  • Say you just took a neurolinguistics class that fascinated you. You also love music, and have played the piano for as long as you can remember. You decide to start a music therapy program at your local hospital, and then go on to publish an article about the patient experience.
  • Or, perhaps you grew up playing video games. You majored in gaming and competed in gaming symposiums. At the same time, you were motivated to become a doctor after your aunt died because bystanders failed to perform CPR. In light of this, you developed a CPR training game to teach others CPR and created a Grieving Gamers group.

Med school admissions committee members look for passionate candidates that have pursued opportunities and causes with depth and commitment. They see through applicants that have just checked off activities for the sake of padding their applications to medical school. Creatively pursuing your primary interests in meaningful ways is far more impressive than being passively involved in many disjointed, passionless efforts. Actively reflect on how to focus your interests before applying to medical school, and your profile will be a standout when it comes time for you to apply.

Need more ideas on how to boost your candidacy? Read our article on non-academic ideas to help you stand out in the med school application process, or schedule a consultation with someone on our team to receive one-on-one, concrete feedback on your medical school candidacy.

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