No significant EC b/c I am 5 years sober and active in AA

Mar 23, 2010
3
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
So basically, almost all of my EC work is based around my AA program. I have had many experiences, volunteering at events, chairing meetings, sponsoring etc etc

Its a huge part of my life and I feel that to omit it would be to leave a huge part of who I am, and what I do out of my application. However, this is for medical school. I am not sure what to do.

Please, any advice? What do you guys think? Should I mention it? How? I spend 15 hours a week doing this kind of service work...

thanks!
 
Mar 11, 2010
947
9
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Sounds like legitimate community service work to me. There is the a slight fine line as to whether you're volunteering vs. participating, but at least you're doing something you really care meaningfully about.
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2007
3,924
7
141
Denver, CO
Status
Medical Student
tentatively....yes. being in AA may bring up some questions about your prior ETOH abuse, though so be ready for the onslaught. 5 years sober, though, is quite an accomplishment. CONGRATULATIONS!
 

Go Ducks

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2009
222
2
141
Status
Medical schools want hospital experience. If you don't have it, make time for it and start getting it now. If there is any medical aspect of the AA experience, highlight that!

Specifically say that you have continued involvement in AA because you want to help others, not because you need constant support to keep from relapsing. Be careful how your application reads. You don't want the ad com to look at the app and say, "What will happen to this guy/girl when he/she is under a lot of stress, maybe depressed from all the studying alone, and doesn't have 15 hrs/wk to devote to AA anymore?"

I really think you should get some professional advice about this. Does your school have a pre-med advisor?
 

oaklandguy

Dismembered
Jul 22, 2009
3,619
4
41
On the shores of my conscious
Status
Pre-Medical
Medical schools want hospital experience. If you don't have it, make time for it and start getting it now. If there is any medical aspect of the AA experience, highlight that!

Specifically say that you have continued involvement in AA because you want to help others, not because you need constant support to keep from relapsing. Be careful how your application reads. You don't want the ad com to look at the app and say, "What will happen to this guy/girl when he/she is under a lot of stress, maybe depressed from all the studying alone, and doesn't have 15 hrs/wk to devote to AA anymore?"

I really think you should get some professional advice about this. Does your school have a pre-med advisor?

I'm really glad that you know what medical schools want. Now back to reality:

OP your volunteering experiences are definitely to be placed in your application in my opinion. Volunteer work is always a plus.

As far as clinical experience, while it may be included with volunteering, it doesn't have to be. You can get clinical experience from having a healthcare related job, or by shadowing doctors, or by volunteering in a clinical situation. You can also volunteer for a hospice, or free clinic, both of which are better than a hospital in my opinion. Don't listen directly to what everyone on here says. Take everything with a grain of salt and don't be afraid to apply DO.
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
4
0
Status
Medical Student
So basically, almost all of my EC work is based around my AA program. I have had many experiences, volunteering at events, chairing meetings, sponsoring etc etc

Its a huge part of my life and I feel that to omit it would be to leave a huge part of who I am, and what I do out of my application. However, this is for medical school. I am not sure what to do.

Please, any advice? What do you guys think? Should I mention it? How? I spend 15 hours a week doing this kind of service work...

thanks!
AA is nice, but you will NEED to get some time in a hospital (preferably around 1yr or more) to be taken seriously by most med schools.

If you take away one thing from this forum, remember this: becoming a physician is one big, fat, ridiculous freaking hazing process. Jump through the hoops and you're good. Don't, and you're screwed.
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2007
3,924
7
141
Denver, CO
Status
Medical Student
I'm really glad that you know what medical schools want. Now back to reality:

OP your volunteering experiences are definitely to be placed in your application in my opinion. Volunteer work is always a plus.

As far as clinical experience, while it may be included with volunteering, it doesn't have to be. You can get clinical experience from having a healthcare related job, or by shadowing doctors, or by volunteering in a clinical situation. You can also volunteer for a hospice, or free clinic, both of which are better than a hospital in my opinion. Don't listen directly to what everyone on here says. Take everything with a grain of salt and don't be afraid to apply DO.

umm... that poster was pretty much spot on. yes, clinical experience can be outside a hospital (often the best clinical experience IS outside the hospital, IMO) and yes it can be non-volunteer, but the idea is the same. The OP needs clinical experience.

Applying DO might be more difficult for the OP w/o clinical experience since DO tends to take a more wholistic approach and be less numbers-oriented. If the OP's stats are good but lacking in ECs, MD could be "easier" than DO. Remember that in the past couple of years DO schools have made a pretty clear trend toward being nearly (or just as) competitive as MD schools.
 

The Poet Sings

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2009
1,030
4
91
Far from home :-)
Status
Medical Student
I'm really glad that you know what medical schools want. Now back to reality:

OP your volunteering experiences are definitely to be placed in your application in my opinion. Volunteer work is always a plus.

As far as clinical experience, while it may be included with volunteering, it doesn't have to be. You can get clinical experience from having a healthcare related job, or by shadowing doctors, or by volunteering in a clinical situation. You can also volunteer for a hospice, or free clinic, both of which are better than a hospital in my opinion. Don't listen directly to what everyone on here says. Take everything with a grain of salt and don't be afraid to apply DO.
what's with the attitude? i think their advice was right, and you both clearly agree the op needs more experience.
 
Mar 23, 2010
3
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I have over 200 hours volunteering in a hospital (6 months in the ED, 10 weeks Pathology and 5 weeks in cardiology) I also have research exp from my undergrad program where I did a Psychology Department Honors Thesis in Bio-psychology (an academic year) which may or may not be resulting in a publication.

Currently looking for work as either an assistant researcher or drawing blood.
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
4
0
Status
Medical Student
I have over 200 hours volunteering in a hospital (6 months in the ED, 10 weeks Pathology and 5 weeks in cardiology) I also have research exp from my undergrad program where I did a Psychology Department Honors Thesis in Bio-psychology (an academic year) which may or may not be resulting in a publication.

Currently looking for work as either an assistant researcher or drawing blood.
Then you do have significant EC's IMHO. 200hrs in the hospital + active involvement in AA events/charities/etc is probably good enough for most schools.

Note: I'd still suggest amassing as many hours as possible in a hospital. It seems to really help people out.
 
Jun 1, 2009
1,051
2
0
Status
Medical Student
So basically, almost all of my EC work is based around my AA program. I have had many experiences, volunteering at events, chairing meetings, sponsoring etc etc

Its a huge part of my life and I feel that to omit it would be to leave a huge part of who I am, and what I do out of my application. However, this is for medical school. I am not sure what to do.

Please, any advice? What do you guys think? Should I mention it? How? I spend 15 hours a week doing this kind of service work...

thanks!
Congrats on your five years!!

This is just my humble opinion, but I would leave out anything that would even suggest that I was in AA. Unfortunately, this would leave out the sponsoring, etc.

Definitely don't mention it's been 5 years, of course...

I think they care more about your medically-related volunteering and clinical exposure, etc. I think sob stories are overrated and not impressive (at all) to adcoms.

Just my humble opinion. Best of luck!

:luck:
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
4
0
Status
Medical Student
I think they care more about your medically-related volunteering and clinical exposure, etc. I think sob stories are overrated and not impressive (at all) to adcoms.
Agreed. And, really, unless you're URM, a huge chunk of the adcom's really don't care about people of "disadvantaged status". Some will, so it's worth including, but a huge chunk of them can give a rats ass.

I'm lucky to be at a school with amazingly supportive faculty. But, as far as the admissions process goes on a broader scale, I must say I'm pretty disappointed with the elitism that exists in medicine. (But, not surprised.)
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
22,235
29,036
281
Status
Academic Administration
Agreed. And, really, unless you're URM, a huge chunk of the adcom's really don't care about people of "disadvantaged status". Some will, so it's worth including, but a huge chunk of them can give a rats ass.

I'm lucky to be at a school with amazingly supportive faculty. But, as far as the admissions process goes on a broader scale, I must say I'm pretty disappointed with the elitism that exists in medicine. (But, not surprised.)
YMMV. Every school is different and every adcom is comprised of a dozen (or dozens) of different personalities.

OP, I'd suggest underplaying your membership in AA but listing it. You do have the start date (month/year) that will show how long you've been in it. Then you categorize it as Volunteer, non-clinical or Leadership or -- I can't remember if there is a Membership category... You don't need a contact person & phone number unless you want to list the name of someone in a service office who may know you. You would list the organization name & location. Then you have a paragraph (I don't remember how many characters) to describe what you have done in the organization (lead a meeting, be a sponsor, etc). You could call this a "12 step program" without being specific if you decided to keep your condition private. Five years sobriety is note-worthy and would be noticed by adcom readers.
 
Mar 23, 2010
3
0
0
Status
Pre-Medical
LizzyM -

Are you the LizzyM from the famous spreadsheet and the LizzyM number? Wow!

Even if your not, thanks for your feedback.

In your opinion, it is something I should include? You don't think it would negatively affect my chances? I feel that in order to truly reveal who I am, I almost have to mention it becuase I am so involved and it is such a huge part of my life. But at the same time, I am concerned that there is a stigma attached to it, particularly in medicine, where there would access to prescriptions etc etc

I really really appreciate your feedback on this issue :)

Thanks so much
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
4
0
Status
Medical Student
YMMV. Every school is different and every adcom is comprised of a dozen (or dozens) of different personalities.
Understood, that's why I said, "Some will, so it's worth including...". But, in reality a lot of "academia" is pretty elitist altogether. I naively thought that the medical profession would be an exception, considering it's roots.
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
4
0
Status
Medical Student
LizzyM -

Are you the LizzyM from the famous spreadsheet and the LizzyM number? Wow!

Even if your not, thanks for your feedback.

In your opinion, it is something I should include? You don't think it would negatively affect my chances? I feel that in order to truly reveal who I am, I almost have to mention it becuase I am so involved and it is such a huge part of my life. But at the same time, I am concerned that there is a stigma attached to it, particularly in medicine, where there would access to prescriptions etc etc

I really really appreciate your feedback on this issue :)

Thanks so much
I know you didn't ask for my advice, but I personally would include it. I wouldn't necessarily go out of your way to mention that you're a recovering alcoholic, but it's worth informing them that you've been so fantastically involved in AA events, etc. If they ask you "why" you're so passionate about it, say in an interview, then it'd be worth being honest and letting them know that you're a recovering alcoholic.

Honesty is the best policy, but knowing when to "let it all hang out" and when not to is also pretty damn important. :D I've got a habit I need to kick, and it's giving TMI. Don't be me!
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
22,235
29,036
281
Status
Academic Administration
Yes, the LizzyM score is named for me. I didn't make the spreadsheet, that was someone else.

Someone who has been in AA for 5 years is presumed to have the coping skills to deal with being around drugs, etc without going off the deep end. It is the guy who's never been in trouble who gets into trouble in med school or residency (historically it has been a huge problem in anesthesiology).

What I was walking you through in my earlier post was how to list this on your AMCAS application in the Experience section. When you start filling out the application you'll see what I mean.
 

Go Ducks

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2009
222
2
141
Status
Knowing what I know now--that you have other experiences--I'd lean heavily toward not including it. The adcom will have (literally) a thousand perfect applications to choose from. You don't want to give them an easy reason not to pick you, because an easy "no" (no, they failed a core course; no, they don't have clinical experience; etc.) saves them time and is therefore tempting.

Also, accepting a student with your history is a risk. I'm being blunt and I don't mean to offend, but I think that you already acknowledged that in your post above. Why would they pick an application with a clear risk when they have far more than enough applications that appear to be risk free? You want to sell yourself to the adcom, just like you would during a job interview.

This is about more than whether you can cope with being around drugs in the future. This is about past poor judgement calls that could potentially foreshadow future poor judgement calls, whether those be related to abuse or not. Don't get me wrong: we've all made bad choices sometime or another. We just don't talk about them in our app, so the adcom doesn't know or think about them.

I know that people might jump on me for disagreeing with the above posters, but I REALLY, REALLY think that you should get a professional opinion, not just people on an internet forum where you don't know their qualifications and they don't have a full picture of your application. This is a huge make-or-break decision. I have strong doubts that talking about AA will help more than it will hurt. What you did there (assuming you did things like organize events and meetings, fundraisers, mentoring underlings) won't set you apart much. Lots of pre-med students do those things for various groups and clubs. These things are important to you and the people you help, but are probably not as important as research and clinical experience to an adcom. What will set you apart guaranteed is the acronym AA. You want them to sit around the table and say, "Oh yes, I remember him/ her; this is the one who published that psychology paper," not "this is the one who was an alcoholic." There is no way you can say you're involved in AA at your age (no adult kids) without people thinking you had a problem.
 
Last edited:
Jun 3, 2009
31
0
0
Status
Interesting advice. . .

Personally I have almost 8 years sober and have some involvement in AA. However I did everything possible to have enough quality EC's to not list my AA involvement. I think there is a stigma attached and some people will see it as a positive and some will see it as a negative. I see it as kind of risky to include. I think the length of your sobriety and involvement in AA should demonstrate you are not a risk due to your past, however I don't see it as the kind of "involvement/experience" that will push you over the top to get an interview/acceptance.
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
22,235
29,036
281
Status
Academic Administration
You could call this "12 step program" without using the term "AA". There are groups for families who are coping with the effects of alcohol on a family member and so it doesn't even suggest that you, yourself, have a personal problem. If you are pouring 15 hours per week into community service in this way it leaves a hole in your application to leave it out.