Which is most essential? and should be most concentrated on.

  • Shadowing

    Votes: 33 19.4%
  • Volunteering

    Votes: 80 47.1%
  • Research

    Votes: 57 33.5%

  • Total voters
    170

Doc.Holliday

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this question is applicable to both my own situation and im sure others wonder the same thing (seeing as this was inspired by another thread).

so, what do you think?

and for my personal question. By application time, i will have done research for 2.5 years (summers included), thats a definite. but i have yet to do much volunteering or any shadowing (sophomore). with research and other activities, its difficult to consistently drive over to a hospital to volunteer, especially when half the time i wont be seeing/experiencing much of anything. shadowing definitely seems like the most time effective possibility, and i have lots of opportunities. does no volunteering at all bring up a red flag? should i at least get in 50 hours somewhere (i'll do it if it could one day cost me an acceptance)? thanks
 

TheRussian

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Generally research is probably more important especially if you want to go to one of the top schools. I feel that I wasn't even given a chance at some schools because I didn't have any research. Some of the secondaries have a specific question to talk about your research and I wasn't able to do that because I didn't have any. If you already have research and want to further improve your application I would say volunteering is more important than shadowing.
 

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Depends on the school, some are research oriented, others are volunteer oriented. I say you can't go wrong with volunteering because it is fun, whereas research sucks hairy monkey b*lls (other people seem to like it).
 

liverotcod

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Clinical experience - either extensive shadowing or meaningful clinical volunteering - is key.

Some physicians do research. Very nearly all physicians do clinical work. QED.
 

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Volunteering used to show off how caring and compassionate you are. Now, however, it is practically a prereq like taking Bio or Physics. Not only that, but if you hang around the hospital long enough, you'll eventually have a really intensive experience, where as shadowing does not provide such hands on opportunities. And those experiences can really come out in essays and interviews. Also adcoms generally prefer volunteering over shadowing (according to my understanding)... I think it has something to do with "meaningful experiences" or something. As far as research goes, you only really need it if you want to go to a research based school. I had no research experience (significant, anyway) but I was loaded on volunteer and shadowing experiences. Did I get into a top 20? No. But that's fine bc I don't want to do research anyway. Besides, you sound like you have plenty of research.
 

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Why not do both by volunteering in a clinical setting?
 

tigress

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QofQuimica said:
Why not do both by volunteering in a clinical setting?
The problem is finding an appropriate volunteer position. I feel like if I'm going to volunteer, it should be somewhere where I can actually contribute something and I'm necessary. If that's not the case, I'd just as soon shadow a doc to see what clinical stuff is like. If I could find a volunteer position that was clinical and actually useful, I'd take it. Any suggestions? I am probably going to be volunteering for the Red Cross at blood drives, but that doesn't count as clinical and I'm just doing it because I feel like it and I have the time.
 

liverotcod

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tigress said:
Any suggestions?
Free clinics for the underserved. They really need help, and in most cases they're less picky about what you can and cannot do.
 

medic170

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I would say that extensive volunteering/working in a clinical setting, or research are about equal weight, so you should do whichever you like best if you have to choose between the two. Of course, the best thing is to have done both.
 
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Doc.Holliday

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but again, would having no volunteering be a red flag, even with lots of shadowing and research? is there some sort of minimum i should go for so that it wont be a problem? 20hrs?50?
 

tigress

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Doc.Holliday said:
but again, would having no volunteering be a red flag, even with lots of shadowing and research? is there some sort of minimum i should go for so that it wont be a problem? 20hrs?50?
I'm sure it depends on the school, but as I've said, my best friend had no volunteering and got into everywhere she applied (well she withdrew from some places before hearing because she got into her first choice). Oh, and she only had a 28 MCAT. So it's the whole application that counts. I seriously doubt anybody is going to have a problem with you having no volunteer hours, as long as you make up in other ways.
 

tigress

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liverotcod said:
Free clinics for the underserved. They really need help, and in most cases they're less picky about what you can and cannot do.
Sorry for sounding stupid, but how do I go about finding these? I know of one here but it's run by a particular school, and you have to be a student there to volunteer. I would love to give my time to a place like this if only I knew how to go about doing so!
 

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tigress said:
Sorry for sounding stupid, but how do I go about finding these? I know of one here but it's run by a particular school, and you have to be a student there to volunteer. I would love to give my time to a place like this if only I knew how to go about doing so!
tigress,
there have to be a ton of opportunities where you are. maybe look in the yellow pages and call everywhere (maybe that's an obvious answer...).

OP,
i think SOME volunteering is important. if you can find the time to shadow a doctor to get some clinical exposure AND volunteer (not necessarily at a hospital), that would be best IMO. in san diego we have a volunteer system where you can go to a training, then volunteer on an event-by-event basis rather than long-term. it's good for people with busy schedules. you could google "volunteer opportunities (your city here)".
it's definitely not a prerequisite, but if you have the time, you might as well do it. i've personally had some of the most eye-opening life experiences while volunteering.
 

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Research is def not needed unless you want a top-tier school. Volunteering is good and will provide you with some patient contact and some good experiences, but I think shadowing is just a bit more important. I dont think Adcoms expect people to do much while volunteering in a hospital (if that's the kind of volunteering we're talking about here)...I volunteered in an ER for awhile, and really didnt do much, and had little contact with the ER docs there, and not much with the nurses either except when they were telling me what I should do. When you shadow, you actually have to contact a practicing doctor themselves, meet up with him and spend a few hours seeing what he actually does. In the process, he will probably answer any questions you have for him, and he'll tell you a bunch of other things as well. Granted you may not be doing much either, but it shows that you have an interest in knowing what a real doctor goes through day-to-day, and Im sure you'll see some awesome stuff depending on the type of doctor you shadow. Just my opinion!
 

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Research experience is essential if you want to get into a top school. Shadowing is helpful to you personally, to help you get a feel for what doctors do, but doesn't help with the application process.
Volunteer activities vary. Doing 20 hours just to pad the AMCAS looks like exactly that. Volunteer work with a leadership angle is good; a long term relationship with an organization is good, too. If the volunteer work has a medical slant it is even better but it might be tutoring, working with the homeless, etc.

As far as volunteering... does your campus offer any opportunities for peer health educators, suicide hotline, alcohol education?
 

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liverotcod said:
Clinical experience - either extensive shadowing or meaningful clinical volunteering - is key.
What would be considered meaninful clinical volunteering? Helping out at a local AIDS center, planned parenthood..?
 

medic170

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Queenshawtii said:
What would be considered meaninful clinical volunteering? Helping out at a local AIDS center, planned parenthood..?
It should mean something to you and you should get something out of, as in, it is more than just an application pad. AIDS center is good, I would only do planned parenthood if it is something you really believe in because of the controversial issues involved.
 

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Okay.. i like the AIDS center i might do that in the summer. But i have too much going on during to the school year? will random volunteering look bad compared to consistent volunteering?
 

medic170

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Queenshawtii said:
Okay.. i like the AIDS center i might do that in the summer. But i have too much going on during to the school year? will random volunteering look bad compared to consistent volunteering?
No, not at all, adcoms just want to see that you care about people, which is obviously a good quality for a doc to have, and they like to see some clinical experience so that they know that you have some idea of what you are getting into. It is not as complicated as you think ;)
 

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What constitutes clinical experience? Would volunteering at a children's hospital where you have contact with the kids = clinical experience? I heard a hospice would be good for clinical experience????
 

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it's not hard to get good volunteer experience or shadowing experience, so I voted research.

capone2975 said:
What constitutes clinical experience? Would volunteering at a children's hospital where you have contact with the kids = clinical experience? I heard a hospice would be good for clinical experience????
the hospice I volunteered at was pretty boring. The hospital bit would be okay though.
 

45408

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medic170 said:
No, not at all, adcoms just want to see that you care about people, which is obviously a good quality for a doc to have, and they like to see some clinical experience so that they know that you have some idea of what you are getting into. It is not as complicated as you think ;)
It just seems counterintuitive to be doing something that supposedly shows how altruistic you are in order to get into medical school.

I personally like getting paid for my clinical experience, because I'm too broke right now. :p
 

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Yeah, volunteer work in a clinical setting seemed like such a tease. I volunteered in a hospital ER that was in a semi-rural area and most of the time I was just changing hospital bed sheets and running stuff to the lab. I didn't really feel empowered to do anything to help the patients as volunteers can't have patient contact. I would have like to be nurses aid or something like that, but I was always a full time student. I couldn't ever get the training needed to do something like that. Shadowing the doctors was pretty interesting, but I would have really loved to be actually doing something that made a greater difference for the patients.
 

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TheProwler said:
It just seems counterintuitive to be doing something that supposedly shows how altruistic you are in order to get into medical school.

I personally like getting paid for my clinical experience, because I'm too broke right now. :p
Nothing wrong with getting paid either. It can still be altruistic. I wroked as a paramedic for most of my clinical experience, and I only volunteered a little bit.
 

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I think volunteering is pretty important. I was asked at some of my interviews why I didn't do more volunteering and I thought that I had a decent amount of volunteering. But for some interviewers it was not enough. So I think that volunteering is imortant. Also I think for a lot of the inerviewers it's more important to have a wide variety of volunteering experiences. I volunteered at a couple places for a long time but I don't think people look closely enough to see that. They just assume that if you only have a couple of volunteering experiences then you haven't done that much.
 

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sockandmittens said:
for example, upenn is according to my premedical advisor tends to demand community service in addition to everything else from their applicant in part due to their location.
I don't understand why that would be due to our "location" and I would say that isn't particularly true compared to the other top schools. What we're looking for are applicants who have done amazing things in their lives and have shown aptitude in some area or several areas outside of academics so that we can produce the next "leaders" in medicine. How you want to show that, is up to you.
 

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You should do a little of everything. With the research you have done, you need to be able to talk about it with confidence so schools know that you know what you were doing.
Volunteering and/or shadowing is very important. If you don't have that under your belt, start finding a doctor to work with or a hospital to volunteer at. Med Schools like to see that you have some clinical experience.
 

g3pro

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I can't believe that people actually believe that the act of volunteering is what is important. WRONG! Volunteering is a means to an end. Shadowing is difficult to come by, especially long-term shadowing. Volunteering is a way for you to get hooked into seeing what a clinical setting is like. Why the hell would a medical school admissions committee care about whether you washed bed linens for a hospital or whatever.

From conversations I have had with ADCOMs, long-term shadowing is what is really looked highly upon. If you can get the same thing by volunteering, kudos. Not likely the case.

I've had 2 months of intensive (8am-3pm, 5 days a week), active shadowing (participating in clinical research, learning how to read bioinstrumentation (MRI, fluoroscopy, angiograms, ECG, echocardiograms, etc), discussing patients with the fellow I was shadowing, learning how to read charts and using that information in clinical diagnoses, participating in physical examinations (auscultation, patient interview, etc). That experience was absolutely incredible, and that is definitely something that you would never be able to do by volunteering.

And of course, research is critical if you are applying to top-tier research institutions.
 

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well, some of us aren't as fortunate as you. I don't see volunteering as a means to an ends. I like doing things for other people.
 

sockandmittens

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I don't understand why that would be due to our "location" and I would say that isn't particularly true compared to the other top schools. What we're looking for are applicants who have done amazing things in their lives and have shown aptitude in some area or several areas outside of academics so that we can produce the next "leaders" in medicine. How you want to show that, is up to you.
I'm sorry if my comment disagrees with your experience. I meant to imply that our premedical advisors have seen trends in the applicants granted interviews/accepted from my school at yale suggesting that community service is important. By location I meant to imply it is not in a wealthy area such as Cornell or Northwestern. Sorry.
 

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I really think it depends where your interests lie...if you want to be a medical clinical MD you should volunteer and shadow; if you want to pursue research you need to do research and volunteer. it also depends on where you are applying; some schools like to see research, others don't care at all. But all schools want to see a passion for what you get involved in, not a laundry list of activities for the sake of padding a resume. Just whatever you do, make the most of the experience; learn from it, grow from it, get involved, and let it aid you in your decision to become a doctor as well as a stronger more compassiona eperson. Best of luck.
 

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sockandmittens said:
Stop being sorry. It's not your fault that ugrad advisors often say things that I disagree with. I just like to set the record straight. UPenn is in West Philly, yes, but to get to really bad areas of town you have to go at least 20 blocks. The area right around the med school is not bad, and if you cross the river into Center City you get into the affluent part of town. This is in contrast to Hopkins, and I would compare with WashU or Yale. It's a myth that I like to dispel that UPenn is in the ghetto. Some of my MD/PhD buddies here had no volunteering or shadowing at all, just research. It all harps back to that ideal applicant who has done cool stuff, wants to build on them here, and has some plans about how they want to use those experiences in medicine.
 

g3pro

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Scarletbegonias said:
I don't see volunteering as a means to an ends. I like doing things for other people.
That's how ADCOMs see it. They want to see that you actually know what clinical practice is.

Why not volunteer for the local auto-mechanic, or volunteer for the local food pantry? It shows that you care about other people, and that's the point of volunteering, right?



sockandmittens said:
I meant to imply that our premedical advisors have seen trends in the applicants granted interviews/accepted from my school at yale suggesting that community service is important.
Trends do not indicate causation! Premedical students who volunteer or do community service for the sake of doing community service are highly motivated to get into medical school. Because they are very highly motivated, they are likely to be motivated in school work and preparing for the MCAT, so their scores and GPA would naturally be higher than those who are not so motivated (and probably do not do community service). If the motivated students' MCAT scores and GPA are higher than other students' scores, wouldn't they be getting more interviews? :thumbup:


You know, trends in the seventies and eighties showed that taking hormone-replacement therapy could lower the risk of post-menopausal diseases and cancers (causation was not identified). So physicians prescribed HRT liberally throughout the nineties, and recent studies have shown a great increase in the numbers of post-menopausal diseases, not a descrease, in response to HRT. Correlation does not equal causation!

:)
 

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A lot of people that apply to med school do volunteer in non-medical related areas (a lot of people that don't apply to medical school volunteer as well). You talk about trends not indicating causation and then you offer an explanation for why you think that premedical students tend to do volunteering, or more volunteering than others, that is you try to explain the cause as the fact that they are "highly motivated." You use a correlation of high mcat scores and gpa with being highly motivated in your explanation as well.
 

g3pro

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Scarletbegonias said:
You talk about trends not indicating causation and then you offer an explanation for why you think that premedical students tend to do volunteering, or more volunteering than others, that is you try to explain the cause as the fact that they are "highly motivated." You use a correlation of high mcat scores and gpa with being highly motivated in your explanation as well.
I could make a stronger argument that high motivation for getting into medical school causes better GPA and MCAT scores than you can make an argument that volunteering for non-medical activities will magically make you a better candidate for admission. Don't embarrass yourself.
 

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I would like to suggest to you to do both. I am currently doing clinical/hospital rotation (shadowing) with a cardiologist (not in a big hurry to move around). I also volunteer at Child Advocates here in Houston, which is a center for abused children. You need to have any and all experiences on your application, volunteering in activities not related to premed is a good idea (shows your concern for the community as a whole). I'm also a biochem major, however, that is why I want to get involved more, to show my versatility so I don't come off as this science head. In addition to that, I assist at the morgue with washing the bodies of the dead (sounds crazy but hey, It's going to pay off in the long run, and it's actually fun and a true learning experience).

All the things mentioned prior to my post look good. Whatever your schedule allows you to do.

;)

Good Luck!
 

Scarletbegonias

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I wasn't making that argument at all. I was just adding a comment earlier. I didn't say anything about how well volunteering is looked upon by adcoms. All I said was: "I don't see volunteering as a means to an ends. I like doing things for other people."

My point actually was to point out how haughty your comments and criticisms have sounded. You inferred that sockandmittens' comment was making some kind of causal connection between trends of students being accepted who have participated in community service. And then you turn around with your own explanation for why you think that students who are accepted to medical school have participated in community service (i.e. your little thing about those who are "highly motivated"), that uses similar flawed logic. My last post was just trying to put that nicely. There's no reason to be rude or condescending in these discussions.
 

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I want to reinforce some of the things that have been said so far. Research, volunteering and shadowing should not be seen as a checklist of things to do to gain acceptance into medical school. Each has its place and one can get into medical school without having done any of the three if it can be backed up.

Shadowing is a check to see if people know what clinical medicine is and if they feel it is for them. Medical schools do not want to accept people who know nothing of medicine except what they see on television.

Volunteering is done to see if you know how to manage your time and to see what your outside interests are. Medical school is more demanding than undergrad and requires good time management skills. Furthermore, people who waste their spare time (of which everyone has in undergrad) might have difficulty adjusting. It is also good to see you as a person rather than a one-dimensional student, as it helps to differentiate you from the other faces in the crowd. Volunteering helps to show this. Your volunteer experience does not have to be in a hospital, but it helps for a couple of reasons. One, you can show that you really know what clinical experience is like (because what you see in a hospital is completely different than what you see in an office) and that you still want to go through with it. Two, you can gain some perspective as to other aspects of the medical machine than simply that of the physician. It will teach you to appreciate what others do and how everyone must come together as a team to make things work.

Research is good for several reasons. First, it shows that whole time management thing. Second, it shows you can stick with something and see it through. Third, it gives you skills that you can use in your medical career if you decide you want it as a part of your practice. Finally, it teaches you to think in a problem-solving manner. Many people have a tough time making the transition from basic sciences to clinical experiences because the thought process must also change. Memorization can get you through the first two years, but you must learn how to apply that knowledge to be a successful physician.

In the end, if you can demonstrate you have good time management skills, are a multi-dimensional person and know what you are getting into and still want to do it, it doesn't matter which of the above three you choose. Having all will help on paper, but make sure you learn the lessons behind each rather than just going through the motions.
 

45408

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g3pro said:
long-term shadowing is what is really looked highly upon....I've had 2 months of intensive, active shadowing
:laugh: :rolleyes: I think we found something here. Can you say bias? Ease off a little. You think your experience was the shizzle, which is great, but it doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all premedical experience that everyone should bow down to you for. We're not impressed that you squeezed a word like auscultation in there either.
 

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If I could have alot of one and some of the other, I'd rather have more research. If I could only apply with research or volunteer experience, unless I was going MD/PhD, I'd rather have some clinical experience.
 

g3pro

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TheProwler said:
I think we found something here. Can you say bias? Ease off a little. You think your experience was the shizzle, which is great, but it doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all premedical experience that everyone should bow down to you for. We're not impressed that you squeezed a word like auscultation in there either.
I'm sorry, I was just using my experiences as a case in point. I wanted to get the idea across that the reason why I think shadowing is so much more important is because of the additional experiences I had clinically. I also volunteered in a hospital several years ago, and it put me off from medicine.

If you could get the same experience I got but from volunteering, then kudos to you! I'm just trying to help other people find what would be most helpful for them when pursuing clinical experience. And from my experiences, I would highly recommend shadowing.
 

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I will say what I always say. Do ywhat you LOVE to do and you will excel at it. If you loathe research, like myself, then don't do it and be miserable for a summer and get a ****ty LOR. If you like clinical medicine then pursue an option there. Better yet, if you love music, then do it... and do it WELL and this will attract enough attention and set you apart at the same time. I personally loved film-making and media productions, so I made a documentary [granted, an amateur one,] but apparently, somebody liked the idea of that.

Again, do what you love to do and you can't go wrong; it's when you start trying to mold yourself to fit into a formula that you will become mediocre, both as a medical student and as a person.