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Informing medical schools about my gap year, and how I will make up for medical volunteering

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HorseOfJuly1394

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I was rather busy during my college career, and I decided to pursue medicine late, and by the time that I made the decision to pursue a medical education I was very occupied trying to make up for a subpar GPA from my freshman year. While I managed to raise my GPA considerably, got research experience, and did well on my MCAT, in terms of both non-medical and medically oriented volunteering, I only have 1 semester of primarily clerical work in a local ICU, and 2 shadowing experiences at local ophthalmology clinics.
I managed to get an interview last cycle, but it did not work out. When I talked with an advisor from one of the medical schools that rejected me, he told me that it was because of my scant history of medical volunteering.

This gap year, I intend to pursue as much medical experience as possible. I am set to start working at a local rehabilitation center this upcoming weekend, and I am going to interview to volunteer evening shifts at another hospital. In addition, I am currently seeking work as a medical technologist, and I have had a few good interviews. I am pursuing CPR/basic life-support training. Adding to all of this, I have started calling local clinics to pursue further shadowing.

A lot of my secondary applications ask about what was my most meaningful experience with direct patient contact, and I am not really sure how to respond. I feel bad saying nothing because I really do care about the experiences I do have, and I have experience at home working with an ill relative. How can I explain to them my situation without disqualifying myself?
 

candbgirl

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    Why are you reapplying without fixing the holes in your application? Especially since you were told what one of your problems was. Why do you think this cycle will end any differently than last cycle? Did you submit your primary yet? If not you probably need to use the upcoming year to fix your application and reapply in June 2017. And this should be in Pre allo in the WAMC.


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    Goro

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    You can't. I strongly recommend that you hold off applying until you have the clinical hours. If nothing has changed since last year,why do you expect to be a better applicant right now?

    How can I explain to them my situation without disqualifying myself?
     
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    HorseOfJuly1394

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    I only talked with the medical admissions counselor after I turned in my AMCAS for this cycle, so I feel it's too late to backtrack right now, and I sent my application to 28 schools this time instead of only 11 as I did last year.
    Things have changed. My GPA is almost a whole 0.1 points higher, I have my MCAT score ready now instead of in late August like last year, a lot more research experience, and yes--I do have more non-medical volunteering, and some leadership through a religious organization I am involved in.

    I am just trying to do my very best with what was a challenging situation. I am ambitious, and the people who know me well will know that I take my education very seriously.
    PS. If this is in the wrong forum, I apologize. If it is possible for me to transfer it, I will do so.
     

    candbgirl

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    You don't have to fill out and submit 28 secondaries. Why would you spend the money when you know you are entirely missing a really important part of your application- the clinical experiences? You seem set on applying so I'm not sure why you started this thread. You know what happened last year and now you are looking for a way to explain it to medical schools. There really isn't any way to do it well. How do you answer "why medicine" or "what was your most enlightening clinical experience" or " do you really want to spend the next 40 years taking care of sick and injured people" or " do you understand how a doctor spends the day?". You'll have a very difficult time answering any of those questions.


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    HorseOfJuly1394

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    Pardon, let me clarify what I am trying to say:
    My problem is that I have some limited 'formal' medical volunteering experience in college, I am working really hard to pursue a lot more experience this gap year; how do I communicate that to the medical schools?
    I know why I want to become a doctor. Having a family member who has been ill for years, I have attended to him, given him counsel, and I know that there are not enough people who are specializing in the treatment of his disorder. There are therapies that exist, but the science is not fully developed and that is why I first started looking into medicine. In addition, the hospital that I volunteered at as an undergraduate was in a poor, rural area. Even though I was only there for one semester, My experience there illustrated for me how public health problems differ between different segments of American society, and they do to a greater degree than I once appreciated, and this further piqued my interest. Being an immigrant from a developing country, it also had me thinking about how little we pay attention to some of these tropical diseases, like dengue fever and Chagas disease.

    In short, I care about the patients, I am entranced by the science, and I know that there is a great need both here, and in the rest of the world. I just don't have the formal hours of experience.
     

    Crayola227

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    your above post isn't bad, but it's too specific and it doesn't make me feel like you're able to generalize to the general public which you need to do

    having an ill family member inspire you is great, but you can't come off like you want to go to medical school to just cure their disease, which is how that came off

    I think having ill family members can count toward clinical hours, but you still need to prove yourself in the real world

    your above explanation almost does it and then it just shot itself in the foot

    you need to work on how you're going to sell your whole package
     
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    mitch8017

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    I was rather busy during my college career, and I decided to pursue medicine late, and by the time that I made the decision to pursue a medical education I was very occupied trying to make up for a subpar GPA from my freshman year. While I managed to raise my GPA considerably, got research experience, and did well on my MCAT, in terms of both non-medical and medically oriented volunteering, I only have 1 semester of primarily clerical work in a local ICU, and 2 shadowing experiences at local ophthalmology clinics.
    I managed to get an interview last cycle, but it did not work out. When I talked with an advisor from one of the medical schools that rejected me, he told me that it was because of my scant history of medical volunteering.

    This gap year, I intend to pursue as much medical experience as possible. I am set to start working at a local rehabilitation center this upcoming weekend, and I am going to interview to volunteer evening shifts at another hospital. In addition, I am currently seeking work as a medical technologist, and I have had a few good interviews. I am pursuing CPR/basic life-support training. Adding to all of this, I have started calling local clinics to pursue further shadowing.

    A lot of my secondary applications ask about what was my most meaningful experience with direct patient contact, and I am not really sure how to respond. I feel bad saying nothing because I really do care about the experiences I do have, and I have experience at home working with an ill relative. How can I explain to them my situation without disqualifying myself?
    So to clarify, you don't have any type of clinical experience? No medical volunteering, CNA, EMT, ER tech, phleb, nothing like that?
     
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    candbgirl

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    So to clarify, you don't have any type of clinical experience? No medical volunteering, CNA, EMT, ER tech, phleb, nothing like that?

    And has reapplied for this cycle with no real changes to the application from last cycle.


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    Goro

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    You communicate this AFTER the gap year, when you have done what a good medical school applicant is supposed to do.


    What are you going to say when asked how you know you are suited for a life of caring for the sick and suffering? “That you just know”? Imagine how that will go over!

    Here's the deal: You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into, and show off your altruistic, humanistic side. We need to know that you're going to like being around sick or injured people for the next 40 years.

    Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

    We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.

    I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

    Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

    Some types of volunteer activities are more appealing than others. Volunteering in a nice suburban hospital is all very well and good and all, but doesn't show that you're willing to dig in and get your hands dirty in the same way that working with the developmentally disabled (or homeless, the dying, or Alzheimers or mentally ill or elderly or ESL or domestic, rural impoverished) does. The uncomfortable situations are the ones that really demonstrate your altruism and get you 'brownie points'. Plus, they frankly teach you more -- they develop your compassion and humanity in ways comfortable situations can't.


    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. Check out your local houses of worship for volunteer opportunities. The key thing is service to others less fortunate than you. And get off campus and out of your comfort zone!

    Examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, 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.





    Pardon, let me clarify what I am trying to say:
    My problem is that I have some limited 'formal' medical volunteering experience in college, I am working really hard to pursue a lot more experience this gap year; how do I communicate that to the medical schools?
    In short, I care about the patients, I am entranced by the science, and I know that there is a great need both here, and in the rest of the world. I just don't have the formal hours of experience.
     
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