*~*~*~* Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2020-2021 *~*~*~*

Aug 21, 2019
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@Catalystik

Yeah it was just like three national honors societies and a pre- professional health club. So pretty cookie- cutter I would say.

But a personal trainer in a gym, so I believe option 2. Only discrepancy is, I had my NETA personal training official certification, but I trained people on my own (so never officially through a gym), which may make getting a contact problematic.
 

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@Catalystik

Yeah it was just like three national honors societies and a pre- professional health club. So pretty cookie- cutter I would say.

1) But a personal trainer in a gym, so I believe option 2.

2) Only discrepancy is, I had my NETA personal training official certification, but I trained people on my own (so never officially through a gym), which may make getting a contact problematic.
1) Definitely.

2) Then don't bring it up.
 
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Aug 21, 2019
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1) Definitely.

2) Then don't bring it up.
So even given just the two mantainence jobs, you think those would be more beneficial than the honors society?

I received national awards through one of them (maybe two technically) so they will brought up in my awards section regardless.
 
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1) So even given just the two mantainence jobs, you think those would be more beneficial than the honors society?

2) I received national awards through one of them (maybe two technically) so they will brought up in my awards section regardless.
1) The grouped maintenance jobs and Personal Trainer positions will make a nice entry.

2) What were the awards based on?
 
Aug 21, 2019
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1) The grouped maintenance jobs and Personal Trainer positions will make a nice entry.

2) What were the awards based on?
Alright thank you!

these are the exact inserts I have prewritten for AMCAS of the awards, I am leaving out Deans list, minor scholarships and stuff due to character limits and those being cookie cutter(due to character limits I am not putting anything for the football award, pretty self explanatory though):

SUNY Chancellors Award for Student Excellence, Spring 2020
-honors both undergrad and grad students who have best demonstrated their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives including leadership, campus involvement, athletics, achievement, and community service.

American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar Award, Spring 2020
-honors students at the national level who demonstrate outstanding academic and leadership accomplishments nationwide

Phi Epsilon Kappa Scholastic Achievement Certificate, Spring 2020
- honors nationally outstanding members who demonstrate both academic and extracurricular excellence

"insert college" Football Teammate Award, Fall 2016
 

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Alright thank you!

these are the exact inserts I have prewritten for AMCAS of the awards, I am leaving out Deans list, minor scholarships and stuff due to character limits and those being cookie cutter(due to character limits I am not putting anything for the football award, pretty self explanatory though):

SUNY Chancellors Award for Student Excellence, Spring 2020
-honors both undergrad and grad students who have best demonstrated their integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives including leadership, campus involvement, athletics, achievement, and community service.

American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar Award, Spring 2020
-honors students at the national level who demonstrate outstanding academic and leadership accomplishments nationwide

Phi Epsilon Kappa Scholastic Achievement Certificate, Spring 2020
- honors nationally outstanding members who demonstrate both academic and extracurricular excellence

"insert college" Football Teammate Award, Fall 2016
An indication of how selective the award is would be desirable. You could tighten up the descriptions to fit that in, like for the first, "Awarded to 2 undergrads annually" or somesuch.
 
Aug 21, 2019
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An indication of how selective the award is would be desirable. You could tighten up the descriptions to fit that in, like for the first, "Awarded to 2 undergrads annually" or somesuch.
Alright! I know the first one is 200 students across all SUNY schools both undergraduate and graduate. And then AKA is about 50ish (maybe less) through all kinesiology undergraduate programs in the country. The scholastic I am not quite sure but I will reach out to my professor who nominated me for it to find out! thank you!
 
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Alright! I know the first one is 200 students across all SUNY schools both undergraduate and graduate. And then AKA is about 50ish (maybe less) through all kinesiology undergraduate programs in the country. The scholastic I am not quite sure but I will reach out to my professor who nominated me for it to find out! thank you!
Sounds good! These details make the achievements more impressive.
 
Jun 28, 2020
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If I co-list TA-ing positions for 2 very different courses (no more entries), who do I put as a contact? thanks.
 

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If I co-list TA-ing positions for 2 very different courses (no more entries), who do I put as a contact? thanks.
For the first one you list in the space, enter the contact in the header. For the second, put it in the narrative box after the description of that activity. Subtotals for each and individual datespans also go in the narrative box before the description.
 
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For the first one you list in the space, enter the contact in the header. For the second, put it in the narrative box after the description of that activity. Subtotals for each and individual datespans also go in the narrative box before the description.
Luckily they were at different times, so I can separate the hours by using “repeated.” But, thank you. I will put the other contact in the description box.
 
Aug 21, 2019
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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress and has been built by many contributors over many years. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, especially when editing is needed to reflect changes in the AMCAS application form.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?

This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization/business

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non Medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching/Tutoring/TA
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Conferences Attended
-Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer, or held some other leadership role. If the conference gave you an opportunity to do a poster or podium presentation, that should be listed elsewhere tagged with a label where application screeners can easily find it (Presentations/Posters), and with the name of the conference included.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

a) - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

b) - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

c) - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:
Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical.
[Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed. Similar info for the additional experiences would be put in the narrative space.]

Starbucks Barista
-Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
-Worked while attending school full time

Also:
Paid Intern - June 2016 - August 2016
Contact: Jane Doe, Secretary, 555-123-4567
-Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
-Responsible for...
-Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class. Total Hours 400

Summer Grocery Store Worker - May 2015 - August 2015
Contact: Jill Doe, Manager, 555-234-5678
-Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
-Worked 30 hours per week while attending school. Total Hours 600
-Responsible for....


5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college? The Work/Activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment, reliability, and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them, when your GPA speaks for itself. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering this sort of experience is to have a catch-all category like "Collegiate Recognitions" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't need to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (often after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities for which it is difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your friend or yourself as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity and timeframe faithfully. These are contacts, not references, so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your performance or abilities to succeed in medical school.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
a) Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

b) What happens if I wrote about my Most Meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

c) Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
Yes, but it is best to use a portion of the box as AMCAS suggests on the application, also. Some creativity will be tolerated. Don't feel obliged to fill the entire space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Don't assume that the same reader will have access to your entire application. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a Total Hours for all included physicians. Additional relevant information such as specific dates, subtotaled hours, title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed. There is no one right way, so feel free to make your own format:

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Title: Multiple Physician Observation Experiences
Dates: [Can encompass all the experiences in the space]
Total Hours: [Total hours shadowed for all docs included in the space.]
Contact info, organization name: [Use the info for the first physician you want to list. I suggest listing them by highest total hours or by those most recent and likely to recall you]

Narrative Description Box:
1. 13 hours 5/2019 John Patel, DO, Family Medicine resident
Participated in hospital rounds, meetings, observed longitudinal clinic hours and general scut work.
Also:
2. 20 hours 5/2018 Jill Rosenbloom, MD, Pediatrician. [email protected]
Was able to observe a newborn resuscitation.
3. 12 hours 1/2018-2/2018 Jane Santos, MD, General Surgeon. 555-123-0000 Rory Li, Office manager
Attended general and bariatric office hours. Observed two surgeries.
4. 7 hours 5/17, James Ruzic, MD, Radiologist. [email protected]
Observed image reading.

Also shadowed X other physicians in [list of specialties] for 5-8 hours each during clinic hours in summer 2016.

[General comments on overall experience/impact if space permits]


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them, in fact, 9-10 are the average used. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them, especially those that are unusual! Adcomm members like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together. In a sea of look-alike activities, hobbies may be what helps make you memorable: "That dumpling-maker applicant" or "The fly fisherman."

Some are confused about listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience (and doesn't require listing a Contact).

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (eg, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if I have "submitted manuscripts," not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" space. For a contact, use the PI that you worked with. For Organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the acceptance date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined, or state that you are the third author.

Do not consider a poster or presentation abstract published in a Conference Proceedings Booklet to be a "Publication" for AMCAS purposes. If the abstract were to appear in a paper journal (or a supplement to one) and be PubMed searchable, then you can call it a Publication for AMCAS purposes (and you'd include the word "[Abstract]" in the citation).

If a manuscript is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include as a Publication. If it is published or accepted for publication, then you can include it.

Keep in mind: "Having publications is mostly icing on the cake though less than 20%-25% of all applicants have ANY kind of publication, poster or presentation at ANY level, campus-wide symposium and up" (per Gonnif).

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be Fine Arts or Sport involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your high-yield, college-related activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can reorder the activities by any parameter they choose.

17. What are the maximum "Total Hours" I can list for an activity?
The most that can be entered are 99999 Total Hours.

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
You can use 60 spaces for the title of each entry:
-If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher on Infant Cognition Project.

If your official title isn't sufficiently descriptive, feel free to improvise.

-If you are a general member of an organization and will hold a higher office in the future, since it can't be listed under Leadership on its own before you start the position, you can sneak it into the application with the title you pick, eg: General Member and President-Elect of Campus Recycling Initiative.

-If the activity covers two categories, since you can only designate one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

-If you are grouping multiple similar activities together to save space, be sure the title you pick encompasses all of them, eg, Summer Camp Volunteerism, or College Seasonal Employment, or E-Publications of Graphic Novels, or Searchable Published Abstracts, or Leisuretime Activities, or Undergraduate Recognitions, or Fraternity Involvement.

-Try not to repeat the same organization name in the title you give the activity. Example:
For an experience titled: President of Pre-Medical Society, consider an alternative for the organization name: perhaps incorporating AED spelled out, or Office of Collegiate Affairs (or whatever dept oversees all student organizations), or your school's name.

19. What would I use the "Repeated" button for?
Say you volunteered at the same hospital for three summers in a row. All the header information is the same for each summer experience but your participation wasn't continuous. So you can fill in a separate date range for each of the three summers and enter a different Total Hours. The same might apply to sport team involvement, thespian commitments, marathons run, seasonal job with the same company, etc. Note: The program will give you an error message if you don't enter them in chronological order. And it won't save the information you enter until the problem is corrected.

Another potential use would be to differentiate completed hours vs future projected hours for an activity in which you are already engaged, by using the current month as the End Date for the first date span and then again as the Start Date for the future hours.

Or the Repeated feature can be used to separate decades of involvement (showing lifelong dedication to a sport or music, eg), divided into college years & after, HS years, and even childhood years.

All the timeframes you choose to include will appear above the narrative box, each with their own estimated hours.

20. How do I describe my Research-related activities?
Some Research description guidelines (YMMV):

Each project can start with a one-sentence nontechnical description that a lay person can understand. After that feel free to use jargon, if you have space for more discussion. Borrowing from Gonnif: If you have XXX hours of research
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Feel free to sort them into more than one space if you have multiple experiences. If grouping them, sort by timeframe, project type or discipline, importance, by class credit/volunteer vs employment.

You will have to decide how to present these experiences to best represent you. Perhaps projects from long ago need less emphasis. Those most recent will likely serve you better if more detail is given.

Any poster, pub, or presentation that took place at a campus venue should be mentioned with the affiliated Research entry. Any that occurred at a regional/national location or appears in a journal deserves its own spot, if you have space. If any of those data sharings came out of the same project, they could be mentioned together in one spot tagged under the highest prestige format: National Pub > Regional Pub > Abstract in a national journal > National Poster/Presentation > Regional Poster/Presentation > abstract in a conference brochure > campus pub > campus poster/presentation.

Any format for citation is fine, including abbreviated versions when you are short on space. Long author lists can be shortened by stating your place on the list, the PIs name, and et al., titles can be shortened to general topic, PMID# can substitute for much of a citation if necessary. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, add [in press] in place of unknown information.

If the data set from the campus presentation was later presented in poster format at a regional conference and then finally published in a national journal, you would cite is under Publication and then mention after the citation in the same space, "Data also presented orally at DDDD College Research Symposium x/x/xx, and again as a poster that won second place at the YYY Conference in Tucson z/zz/zz date."

If you were not the presenter for your poster, but your name is on the author list, you can include it, but give credit to the presenter, as research is a team sport, and it's important to give credit where it is due. If you presented, it's fine to say so.

There is little value in using a Conferences Attended slot, if you have already mentioned the name of the conference in a Posters/Presentation or Publications entry.

A manuscript in preparation or submitted doesn't belong on the application, but if you feel compelled to mention it regardless, add it at the end of a Research description on the affiliated project. An exception might be if your productivity is proven, in which case a submitted manuscript can be added to the same space as your cited publications, if room is available, and if your PI will include mention of it in their letter for verification.

If you wrote the grant that got funding or navigated an IRB process, mention it.

Use the MM space for impact, insights, how you were inspired, future directions. If some of the research description spills over into this space, you won't be the only one who's used it that way. Just be sure that at the 700 character mark you end a paragraph so it will flow smoothly into the MM space (which is distinguished by a blank line, like a paragraph break).

Succinctness is always good.

FAQ are continued in the next space.
Sorry for Hijacking this thread with an obscene amount of questions, I just had one more.

I have all 15 spots filled, but have a section called "ungraduate non-clinical volunteering" which I guess is for my Hodge podge random groups of volunteering that are non significant groups of experiences, they include:

220 hours at habitat for humanity (80 currently over a year(ish), and 200-250ish projected total)
50 hours camp for children with cancer
45 hours campus move in day volunteer at Ugrad uni

Do you think I should just pick one so I can go more in depth (probably habitat)? Or should I include all and give brief descriptions? I guess I am just not sure where equilibrium between quality and quantity lies when it comes to this (not so much in quality of experience, they were all meaningful, but in the way I talk about them)?

Thank you!

Edit: habitat hours error
 

Catalystik

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I have all 15 spots filled, but have a section called "ungraduate non-clinical volunteering" which I guess is for my Hodge podge random groups of volunteering that are non significant groups of experiences, they include:

a) 220 hours at habitat for humanity (80 currently over a year(ish), and 200-250ish projected total)
b) 50 hours camp for children with cancer
c) 45 hours campus move in day volunteer at Ugrad uni

Do you think I should just pick one so I can go more in depth (probably habitat)? Or should I include all and give brief descriptions? I guess I am just not sure where equilibrium between quality and quantity lies when it comes to this (not so much in quality of experience, they were all meaningful, but in the way I talk about them)?
If you want to include two or three activities, please change the name o the space to something I would understand, like, Miscellaneous Community Volunteering.

I'd be in favor of omitting the move-in day help, but I'd hate to see the camp experience and H for H go. Maybe if you include just two activities in the space, you can hit a happy medium of a decent description for each.

Please take care to designate completed vs future hours.
 
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If you want to include two or three activities, please change the name o the space to something I would understand, like, Miscellaneous Community Volunteering.

I'd be in favor of omitting the move-in day help, but I'd hate to see the camp experience and H for H go. Maybe if you include just two activities in the space, you can hit a happy medium of a decent description for each.

Please take care to designate completed vs future hours.
how do you recommend differentiating completed versus projected hours?
 

Catalystik

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how do you recommend differentiating completed versus projected hours?
Use the Repeated feature with the future dates being the last datespan entered, or state it in your narrative. Or only include completed hours in the header and state your future intentions in the narrative.
 

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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress and has been built by many contributors over many years. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, especially when editing is needed to reflect changes in the AMCAS application form.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?

This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization/business

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non Medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching/Tutoring/TA
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Conferences Attended
-Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer, or held some other leadership role. If the conference gave you an opportunity to do a poster or podium presentation, that should be listed elsewhere tagged with a label where application screeners can easily find it (Presentations/Posters), and with the name of the conference included.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

a) - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

b) - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

c) - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:
Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical.
[Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed. Similar info for the additional experiences would be put in the narrative space.]

Starbucks Barista
-Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
-Worked while attending school full time

Also:
Paid Intern - June 2016 - August 2016
Contact: Jane Doe, Secretary, 555-123-4567
-Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
-Responsible for...
-Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class. Total Hours 400

Summer Grocery Store Worker - May 2015 - August 2015
Contact: Jill Doe, Manager, 555-234-5678
-Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
-Worked 30 hours per week while attending school. Total Hours 600
-Responsible for....


5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college? The Work/Activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment, reliability, and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them, when your GPA speaks for itself. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering this sort of experience is to have a catch-all category like "Collegiate Recognitions" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't need to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (often after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities for which it is difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your friend or yourself as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity and timeframe faithfully. These are contacts, not references, so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your performance or abilities to succeed in medical school.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
a) Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

b) What happens if I wrote about my Most Meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

c) Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
Yes, but it is best to use a portion of the box as AMCAS suggests on the application, also. Some creativity will be tolerated. Don't feel obliged to fill the entire space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Don't assume that the same reader will have access to your entire application. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a Total Hours for all included physicians. Additional relevant information such as specific dates, subtotaled hours, title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed. There is no one right way, so feel free to make your own format:

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Title: Multiple Physician Observation Experiences
Dates: [Can encompass all the experiences in the space]
Total Hours: [Total hours shadowed for all docs included in the space.]
Contact info, organization name: [Use the info for the first physician you want to list. I suggest listing them by highest total hours or by those most recent and likely to recall you]

Narrative Description Box:
1. 13 hours 5/2019 John Patel, DO, Family Medicine resident
Participated in hospital rounds, meetings, observed longitudinal clinic hours and general scut work.
Also:
2. 20 hours 5/2018 Jill Rosenbloom, MD, Pediatrician. [email protected]
Was able to observe a newborn resuscitation.
3. 12 hours 1/2018-2/2018 Jane Santos, MD, General Surgeon. 555-123-0000 Rory Li, Office manager
Attended general and bariatric office hours. Observed two surgeries.
4. 7 hours 5/17, James Ruzic, MD, Radiologist. [email protected]
Observed image reading.

Also shadowed X other physicians in [list of specialties] for 5-8 hours each during clinic hours in summer 2016.

[General comments on overall experience/impact if space permits]


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them, in fact, 9-10 are the average used. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them, especially those that are unusual! Adcomm members like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together. In a sea of look-alike activities, hobbies may be what helps make you memorable: "That dumpling-maker applicant" or "The fly fisherman."

Some are confused about listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience (and doesn't require listing a Contact).

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (eg, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if I have "submitted manuscripts," not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" space. For a contact, use the PI that you worked with. For Organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the acceptance date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined, or state that you are the third author.

Do not consider a poster or presentation abstract published in a Conference Proceedings Booklet to be a "Publication" for AMCAS purposes. If the abstract were to appear in a paper journal (or a supplement to one) and be PubMed searchable, then you can call it a Publication for AMCAS purposes (and you'd include the word "[Abstract]" in the citation).

If a manuscript is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include as a Publication. If it is published or accepted for publication, then you can include it.

Keep in mind: "Having publications is mostly icing on the cake though less than 20%-25% of all applicants have ANY kind of publication, poster or presentation at ANY level, campus-wide symposium and up" (per Gonnif).

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be Fine Arts or Sport involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your high-yield, college-related activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can reorder the activities by any parameter they choose.

17. What are the maximum "Total Hours" I can list for an activity?
The most that can be entered are 99999 Total Hours.

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
You can use 60 spaces for the title of each entry:
-If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher on Infant Cognition Project.

If your official title isn't sufficiently descriptive, feel free to improvise.

-If you are a general member of an organization and will hold a higher office in the future, since it can't be listed under Leadership on its own before you start the position, you can sneak it into the application with the title you pick, eg: General Member and President-Elect of Campus Recycling Initiative.

-If the activity covers two categories, since you can only designate one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

-If you are grouping multiple similar activities together to save space, be sure the title you pick encompasses all of them, eg, Summer Camp Volunteerism, or College Seasonal Employment, or E-Publications of Graphic Novels, or Searchable Published Abstracts, or Leisuretime Activities, or Undergraduate Recognitions, or Fraternity Involvement.

-Try not to repeat the same organization name in the title you give the activity. Example:
For an experience titled: President of Pre-Medical Society, consider an alternative for the organization name: perhaps incorporating AED spelled out, or Office of Collegiate Affairs (or whatever dept oversees all student organizations), or your school's name.

19. What would I use the "Repeated" button for?
Say you volunteered at the same hospital for three summers in a row. All the header information is the same for each summer experience but your participation wasn't continuous. So you can fill in a separate date range for each of the three summers and enter a different Total Hours. The same might apply to sport team involvement, thespian commitments, marathons run, seasonal job with the same company, etc. Note: The program will give you an error message if you don't enter them in chronological order. And it won't save the information you enter until the problem is corrected.

Another potential use would be to differentiate completed hours vs future projected hours for an activity in which you are already engaged, by using the current month as the End Date for the first date span and then again as the Start Date for the future hours.

Or the Repeated feature can be used to separate decades of involvement (showing lifelong dedication to a sport or music, eg), divided into college years & after, HS years, and even childhood years.

All the timeframes you choose to include will appear above the narrative box, each with their own estimated hours.

20. How do I describe my Research-related activities?
Some Research description guidelines (YMMV):

Each project can start with a one-sentence nontechnical description that a lay person can understand. After that feel free to use jargon, if you have space for more discussion. Borrowing from Gonnif: If you have XXX hours of research
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Feel free to sort them into more than one space if you have multiple experiences. If grouping them, sort by timeframe, project type or discipline, importance, by class credit/volunteer vs employment.

You will have to decide how to present these experiences to best represent you. Perhaps projects from long ago need less emphasis. Those most recent will likely serve you better if more detail is given.

Any poster, pub, or presentation that took place at a campus venue should be mentioned with the affiliated Research entry. Any that occurred at a regional/national location or appears in a journal deserves its own spot, if you have space. If any of those data sharings came out of the same project, they could be mentioned together in one spot tagged under the highest prestige format: National Pub > Regional Pub > Abstract in a national journal > National Poster/Presentation > Regional Poster/Presentation > abstract in a conference brochure > campus pub > campus poster/presentation.

Any format for citation is fine, including abbreviated versions when you are short on space. Long author lists can be shortened by stating your place on the list, the PIs name, and et al., titles can be shortened to general topic, PMID# can substitute for much of a citation if necessary. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, add [in press] in place of unknown information.

If the data set from the campus presentation was later presented in poster format at a regional conference and then finally published in a national journal, you would cite is under Publication and then mention after the citation in the same space, "Data also presented orally at DDDD College Research Symposium x/x/xx, and again as a poster that won second place at the YYY Conference in Tucson z/zz/zz date."

If you were not the presenter for your poster, but your name is on the author list, you can include it, but give credit to the presenter, as research is a team sport, and it's important to give credit where it is due. If you presented, it's fine to say so.

There is little value in using a Conferences Attended slot, if you have already mentioned the name of the conference in a Posters/Presentation or Publications entry.

A manuscript in preparation or submitted doesn't belong on the application, but if you feel compelled to mention it regardless, add it at the end of a Research description on the affiliated project. An exception might be if your productivity is proven, in which case a submitted manuscript can be added to the same space as your cited publications, if room is available, and if your PI will include mention of it in their letter for verification.

If you wrote the grant that got funding or navigated an IRB process, mention it.

Use the MM space for impact, insights, how you were inspired, future directions. If some of the research description spills over into this space, you won't be the only one who's used it that way. Just be sure that at the 700 character mark you end a paragraph so it will flow smoothly into the MM space (which is distinguished by a blank line, like a paragraph break).

Succinctness is always good.

FAQ are continued in the next space.
I have a couple miscellaneous leadership activities (exercise mentor/ intramural basketball). Due to having no more spots left, could I include membership (just membership) into certain honors societies and clubs and such?
 

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I have a couple miscellaneous leadership activities (exercise mentor/ intramural basketball). Due to having no more spots left, could I include membership (just membership) into certain honors societies and clubs and such?
If you are going to include multiple activities that don't all fit into one category, I suggest using the tag Other or Extracurricular, and labeling it something like Miscellaneous Collegiate Experiences. If you do that, it's OK to include a hodgepodge of experiences in one space.
 
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When filling out the most meaningful activity, can the description and most meaningful section be one essay together? Or do they need to be separated? Would it read together, or be separated? What do adcoms prefer?
 

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When filling out the most meaningful activity, can the description and most meaningful section be one essay together? Or do they need to be separated? Would it read together, or be separated? What do adcoms prefer?
You can write it as a single essay, but you have to take care that you get to a paragraph break after the first 700 characters, as an empty line is entered automatically to represent the separation between the two areas. You would then proceed with your essay in the MM section for up to the remaining 1325 characters you have available.
 
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How should I categorize my work on a podcast? I played a supporting role (researching/inviting guests, some script writing). My thinking is to file it under Artistic Endeavors or Other
 

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How should I categorize my work on a podcast? I played a supporting role (researching/inviting guests, some script writing). My thinking is to file it under Artistic Endeavors or Other
I agree with Artistic Endeavor. Could also use Teaching, depending on the purpose of the podcast.
 
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If you are going to include multiple activities that don't all fit into one category, I suggest using the tag Other or Extracurricular, and labeling it something like Miscellaneous Collegiate Experiences. If you do that, it's OK to include a hodgepodge of experiences in one space.
Do you think it would be more beneficial to target something like "leadership experience"?
 

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Do you think it would be more beneficial to target something like "leadership experience"?
A Leadership space should contain only leadership activities. Unless you were in charge of other exercise mentors or were the captain of the intramural basketball team, I would not use that designation.
 
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Hi, I had a question on what I should do in one of my work and activities sections. If I have listed abstracts that have been published in a publications section, do I need to explain those projects in more depth in my research section? I am asking this since I want to save space and talk about other parts of my research that I did not address yet. Thanks!
 

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If I have listed abstracts that have been published in a publications section, do I need to explain those projects in more depth in my research section? I am asking this since I want to save space and talk about other parts of my research that I did not address yet.
If one has a publication listed under Publications, generally one also has an affiliated Research entry that explains one's role. If you can't fit it in under Research, as an alternative, you might explain after your citation what your role in the project was that led to the publication.
 
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If one has a publication listed under Publications, generally one also has an affiliated Research entry that explains one's role. If you can't fit it in under Research, as an alternative, you might explain after your citation what your role in the project was that led to the publication.
Great, Thanks!
 
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If your concerns aren't completely satisfied, feel free to ask more questions.
You definitely answered my question, so I am good on that regard. I have just been referring to your OP on this thread on writing about research. I was confused about when you listed this:
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Should we be trying to accomplish this in the 700 characters box, or in the MM section as well. Honestly, since I have done three projects in one lab, just explaining my roles in them has been difficult given space. Unfortunately, I don't have the room to split them up as well.
 

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You definitely answered my question, so I am good on that regard. I have just been referring to your OP on this thread on writing about research. I was confused about when you listed this:
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Should we be trying to accomplish this in the 700 characters box, or in the MM section as well. Honestly, since I have done three projects in one lab, just explaining my roles in them has been difficult given space. Unfortunately, I don't have the room to split them up as well.
This is a suggestion previously posted by gonnif in the main forum. Personally, I think it more suited to a Research MM section, as it's rare to have enough space to expound beyond the basics, and certainly not when you're grouping three projects. But, if you can imply/illustrate "teamwork," that would be good.
 
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This is a suggestion previously posted by gonnif in the main forum. Personally, I think it more suited to a Research MM section, as it's rare to have enough space to expound beyond the basics, and certainly not when you're grouping three projects. But, if you can imply/illustrate "teamwork," that would be good.
Research is one of my MM, so would I be able to just describe the tasks I did and achievements I had in the 700. And then try to tackle what Gonnif was saying in the extra 1300 section?
 

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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress and has been built by many contributors over many years. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, especially when editing is needed to reflect changes in the AMCAS application form.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?

This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization/business

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non Medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching/Tutoring/TA
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Conferences Attended
-Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer, or held some other leadership role. If the conference gave you an opportunity to do a poster or podium presentation, that should be listed elsewhere tagged with a label where application screeners can easily find it (Presentations/Posters), and with the name of the conference included.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

a) - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

b) - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

c) - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:
Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical.
[Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed. Similar info for the additional experiences would be put in the narrative space.]

Starbucks Barista
-Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
-Worked while attending school full time

Also:
Paid Intern - June 2016 - August 2016
Contact: Jane Doe, Secretary, 555-123-4567
-Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
-Responsible for...
-Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class. Total Hours 400

Summer Grocery Store Worker - May 2015 - August 2015
Contact: Jill Doe, Manager, 555-234-5678
-Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
-Worked 30 hours per week while attending school. Total Hours 600
-Responsible for....


5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college? The Work/Activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment, reliability, and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them, when your GPA speaks for itself. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering this sort of experience is to have a catch-all category like "Collegiate Recognitions" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't need to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (often after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities for which it is difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your friend or yourself as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity and timeframe faithfully. These are contacts, not references, so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your performance or abilities to succeed in medical school.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
a) Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

b) What happens if I wrote about my Most Meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

c) Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
Yes, but it is best to use a portion of the box as AMCAS suggests on the application, also. Some creativity will be tolerated. Don't feel obliged to fill the entire space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Don't assume that the same reader will have access to your entire application. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a Total Hours for all included physicians. Additional relevant information such as specific dates, subtotaled hours, title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed. There is no one right way, so feel free to make your own format:

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Title: Multiple Physician Observation Experiences
Dates: [Can encompass all the experiences in the space]
Total Hours: [Total hours shadowed for all docs included in the space.]
Contact info, organization name: [Use the info for the first physician you want to list. I suggest listing them by highest total hours or by those most recent and likely to recall you]

Narrative Description Box:
1. 13 hours 5/2019 John Patel, DO, Family Medicine resident
Participated in hospital rounds, meetings, observed longitudinal clinic hours and general scut work.
Also:
2. 20 hours 5/2018 Jill Rosenbloom, MD, Pediatrician. [email protected]
Was able to observe a newborn resuscitation.
3. 12 hours 1/2018-2/2018 Jane Santos, MD, General Surgeon. 555-123-0000 Rory Li, Office manager
Attended general and bariatric office hours. Observed two surgeries.
4. 7 hours 5/17, James Ruzic, MD, Radiologist. [email protected]
Observed image reading.

Also shadowed X other physicians in [list of specialties] for 5-8 hours each during clinic hours in summer 2016.

[General comments on overall experience/impact if space permits]


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them, in fact, 9-10 are the average used. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them, especially those that are unusual! Adcomm members like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together. In a sea of look-alike activities, hobbies may be what helps make you memorable: "That dumpling-maker applicant" or "The fly fisherman."

Some are confused about listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience (and doesn't require listing a Contact).

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (eg, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if I have "submitted manuscripts," not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" space. For a contact, use the PI that you worked with. For Organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the acceptance date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined, or state that you are the third author.

Do not consider a poster or presentation abstract published in a Conference Proceedings Booklet to be a "Publication" for AMCAS purposes. If the abstract were to appear in a paper journal (or a supplement to one) and be PubMed searchable, then you can call it a Publication for AMCAS purposes (and you'd include the word "[Abstract]" in the citation).

If a manuscript is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include as a Publication. If it is published or accepted for publication, then you can include it.

Keep in mind: "Having publications is mostly icing on the cake though less than 20%-25% of all applicants have ANY kind of publication, poster or presentation at ANY level, campus-wide symposium and up" (per Gonnif).

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be Fine Arts or Sport involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your high-yield, college-related activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can reorder the activities by any parameter they choose.

17. What are the maximum "Total Hours" I can list for an activity?
The most that can be entered are 99999 Total Hours.

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
You can use 60 spaces for the title of each entry:
-If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher on Infant Cognition Project.

If your official title isn't sufficiently descriptive, feel free to improvise.

-If you are a general member of an organization and will hold a higher office in the future, since it can't be listed under Leadership on its own before you start the position, you can sneak it into the application with the title you pick, eg: General Member and President-Elect of Campus Recycling Initiative.

-If the activity covers two categories, since you can only designate one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

-If you are grouping multiple similar activities together to save space, be sure the title you pick encompasses all of them, eg, Summer Camp Volunteerism, or College Seasonal Employment, or E-Publications of Graphic Novels, or Searchable Published Abstracts, or Leisuretime Activities, or Undergraduate Recognitions, or Fraternity Involvement.

-Try not to repeat the same organization name in the title you give the activity. Example:
For an experience titled: President of Pre-Medical Society, consider an alternative for the organization name: perhaps incorporating AED spelled out, or Office of Collegiate Affairs (or whatever dept oversees all student organizations), or your school's name.

19. What would I use the "Repeated" button for?
Say you volunteered at the same hospital for three summers in a row. All the header information is the same for each summer experience but your participation wasn't continuous. So you can fill in a separate date range for each of the three summers and enter a different Total Hours. The same might apply to sport team involvement, thespian commitments, marathons run, seasonal job with the same company, etc. Note: The program will give you an error message if you don't enter them in chronological order. And it won't save the information you enter until the problem is corrected.

Another potential use would be to differentiate completed hours vs future projected hours for an activity in which you are already engaged, by using the current month as the End Date for the first date span and then again as the Start Date for the future hours.

Or the Repeated feature can be used to separate decades of involvement (showing lifelong dedication to a sport or music, eg), divided into college years & after, HS years, and even childhood years.

All the timeframes you choose to include will appear above the narrative box, each with their own estimated hours.

20. How do I describe my Research-related activities?
Some Research description guidelines (YMMV):

Each project can start with a one-sentence nontechnical description that a lay person can understand. After that feel free to use jargon, if you have space for more discussion. Borrowing from Gonnif: If you have XXX hours of research
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Feel free to sort them into more than one space if you have multiple experiences. If grouping them, sort by timeframe, project type or discipline, importance, by class credit/volunteer vs employment.

You will have to decide how to present these experiences to best represent you. Perhaps projects from long ago need less emphasis. Those most recent will likely serve you better if more detail is given.

Any poster, pub, or presentation that took place at a campus venue should be mentioned with the affiliated Research entry. Any that occurred at a regional/national location or appears in a journal deserves its own spot, if you have space. If any of those data sharings came out of the same project, they could be mentioned together in one spot tagged under the highest prestige format: National Pub > Regional Pub > Abstract in a national journal > National Poster/Presentation > Regional Poster/Presentation > abstract in a conference brochure > campus pub > campus poster/presentation.

Any format for citation is fine, including abbreviated versions when you are short on space. Long author lists can be shortened by stating your place on the list, the PIs name, and et al., titles can be shortened to general topic, PMID# can substitute for much of a citation if necessary. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, add [in press] in place of unknown information.

If the data set from the campus presentation was later presented in poster format at a regional conference and then finally published in a national journal, you would cite is under Publication and then mention after the citation in the same space, "Data also presented orally at DDDD College Research Symposium x/x/xx, and again as a poster that won second place at the YYY Conference in Tucson z/zz/zz date."

If you were not the presenter for your poster, but your name is on the author list, you can include it, but give credit to the presenter, as research is a team sport, and it's important to give credit where it is due. If you presented, it's fine to say so.

There is little value in using a Conferences Attended slot, if you have already mentioned the name of the conference in a Posters/Presentation or Publications entry.

A manuscript in preparation or submitted doesn't belong on the application, but if you feel compelled to mention it regardless, add it at the end of a Research description on the affiliated project. An exception might be if your productivity is proven, in which case a submitted manuscript can be added to the same space as your cited publications, if room is available, and if your PI will include mention of it in their letter for verification.

If you wrote the grant that got funding or navigated an IRB process, mention it.

Use the MM space for impact, insights, how you were inspired, future directions. If some of the research description spills over into this space, you won't be the only one who's used it that way. Just be sure that at the 700 character mark you end a paragraph so it will flow smoothly into the MM space (which is distinguished by a blank line, like a paragraph break).

Succinctness is always good.

FAQ are continued in the next space.
As far as listing hours, I have an excel sheet with hour by hour of everything. Should I just round up to the nearest tenth? exact hours seems like a checklist.

Also for projected hours for multiple experiences that are "clumped" together, can you just right in the description "80 hours current, 200 hours total" in the description? Thanks!
 
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Catalystik

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1) As far as listing hours, I have an excel sheet with hour by hour of everything. Should I just round up to the nearest tenth? exact hours seems like a checklist.

2) Also for projected hours for multiple experiences that are "clumped" together, can you just right in the description "80 hours current, 200 hours total" in the description? Thanks!
1) Yes, rounding is fine.

2) Ideally, you'd differentiate completed vs future hours for each activity description in the space, and not in aggregate.
 
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Tyler59

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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress and has been built by many contributors over many years. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, especially when editing is needed to reflect changes in the AMCAS application form.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?

This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization/business

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non Medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching/Tutoring/TA
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Conferences Attended
-Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer, or held some other leadership role. If the conference gave you an opportunity to do a poster or podium presentation, that should be listed elsewhere tagged with a label where application screeners can easily find it (Presentations/Posters), and with the name of the conference included.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

a) - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

b) - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

c) - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:
Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical.
[Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed. Similar info for the additional experiences would be put in the narrative space.]

Starbucks Barista
-Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
-Worked while attending school full time

Also:
Paid Intern - June 2016 - August 2016
Contact: Jane Doe, Secretary, 555-123-4567
-Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
-Responsible for...
-Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class. Total Hours 400

Summer Grocery Store Worker - May 2015 - August 2015
Contact: Jill Doe, Manager, 555-234-5678
-Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
-Worked 30 hours per week while attending school. Total Hours 600
-Responsible for....


5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college? The Work/Activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment, reliability, and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them, when your GPA speaks for itself. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering this sort of experience is to have a catch-all category like "Collegiate Recognitions" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't need to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (often after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities for which it is difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your friend or yourself as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity and timeframe faithfully. These are contacts, not references, so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your performance or abilities to succeed in medical school.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
a) Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

b) What happens if I wrote about my Most Meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

c) Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
Yes, but it is best to use a portion of the box as AMCAS suggests on the application, also. Some creativity will be tolerated. Don't feel obliged to fill the entire space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Don't assume that the same reader will have access to your entire application. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a Total Hours for all included physicians. Additional relevant information such as specific dates, subtotaled hours, title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed. There is no one right way, so feel free to make your own format:

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Title: Multiple Physician Observation Experiences
Dates: [Can encompass all the experiences in the space]
Total Hours: [Total hours shadowed for all docs included in the space.]
Contact info, organization name: [Use the info for the first physician you want to list. I suggest listing them by highest total hours or by those most recent and likely to recall you]

Narrative Description Box:
1. 13 hours 5/2019 John Patel, DO, Family Medicine resident
Participated in hospital rounds, meetings, observed longitudinal clinic hours and general scut work.
Also:
2. 20 hours 5/2018 Jill Rosenbloom, MD, Pediatrician. [email protected]
Was able to observe a newborn resuscitation.
3. 12 hours 1/2018-2/2018 Jane Santos, MD, General Surgeon. 555-123-0000 Rory Li, Office manager
Attended general and bariatric office hours. Observed two surgeries.
4. 7 hours 5/17, James Ruzic, MD, Radiologist. [email protected]
Observed image reading.

Also shadowed X other physicians in [list of specialties] for 5-8 hours each during clinic hours in summer 2016.

[General comments on overall experience/impact if space permits]


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them, in fact, 9-10 are the average used. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them, especially those that are unusual! Adcomm members like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together. In a sea of look-alike activities, hobbies may be what helps make you memorable: "That dumpling-maker applicant" or "The fly fisherman."

Some are confused about listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience (and doesn't require listing a Contact).

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (eg, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if I have "submitted manuscripts," not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" space. For a contact, use the PI that you worked with. For Organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the acceptance date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined, or state that you are the third author.

Do not consider a poster or presentation abstract published in a Conference Proceedings Booklet to be a "Publication" for AMCAS purposes. If the abstract were to appear in a paper journal (or a supplement to one) and be PubMed searchable, then you can call it a Publication for AMCAS purposes (and you'd include the word "[Abstract]" in the citation).

If a manuscript is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include as a Publication. If it is published or accepted for publication, then you can include it.

Keep in mind: "Having publications is mostly icing on the cake though less than 20%-25% of all applicants have ANY kind of publication, poster or presentation at ANY level, campus-wide symposium and up" (per Gonnif).

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be Fine Arts or Sport involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your high-yield, college-related activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can reorder the activities by any parameter they choose.

17. What are the maximum "Total Hours" I can list for an activity?
The most that can be entered are 99999 Total Hours.

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
You can use 60 spaces for the title of each entry:
-If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher on Infant Cognition Project.

If your official title isn't sufficiently descriptive, feel free to improvise.

-If you are a general member of an organization and will hold a higher office in the future, since it can't be listed under Leadership on its own before you start the position, you can sneak it into the application with the title you pick, eg: General Member and President-Elect of Campus Recycling Initiative.

-If the activity covers two categories, since you can only designate one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

-If you are grouping multiple similar activities together to save space, be sure the title you pick encompasses all of them, eg, Summer Camp Volunteerism, or College Seasonal Employment, or E-Publications of Graphic Novels, or Searchable Published Abstracts, or Leisuretime Activities, or Undergraduate Recognitions, or Fraternity Involvement.

-Try not to repeat the same organization name in the title you give the activity. Example:
For an experience titled: President of Pre-Medical Society, consider an alternative for the organization name: perhaps incorporating AED spelled out, or Office of Collegiate Affairs (or whatever dept oversees all student organizations), or your school's name.

19. What would I use the "Repeated" button for?
Say you volunteered at the same hospital for three summers in a row. All the header information is the same for each summer experience but your participation wasn't continuous. So you can fill in a separate date range for each of the three summers and enter a different Total Hours. The same might apply to sport team involvement, thespian commitments, marathons run, seasonal job with the same company, etc. Note: The program will give you an error message if you don't enter them in chronological order. And it won't save the information you enter until the problem is corrected.

Another potential use would be to differentiate completed hours vs future projected hours for an activity in which you are already engaged, by using the current month as the End Date for the first date span and then again as the Start Date for the future hours.

Or the Repeated feature can be used to separate decades of involvement (showing lifelong dedication to a sport or music, eg), divided into college years & after, HS years, and even childhood years.

All the timeframes you choose to include will appear above the narrative box, each with their own estimated hours.

20. How do I describe my Research-related activities?
Some Research description guidelines (YMMV):

Each project can start with a one-sentence nontechnical description that a lay person can understand. After that feel free to use jargon, if you have space for more discussion. Borrowing from Gonnif: If you have XXX hours of research
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Feel free to sort them into more than one space if you have multiple experiences. If grouping them, sort by timeframe, project type or discipline, importance, by class credit/volunteer vs employment.

You will have to decide how to present these experiences to best represent you. Perhaps projects from long ago need less emphasis. Those most recent will likely serve you better if more detail is given.

Any poster, pub, or presentation that took place at a campus venue should be mentioned with the affiliated Research entry. Any that occurred at a regional/national location or appears in a journal deserves its own spot, if you have space. If any of those data sharings came out of the same project, they could be mentioned together in one spot tagged under the highest prestige format: National Pub > Regional Pub > Abstract in a national journal > National Poster/Presentation > Regional Poster/Presentation > abstract in a conference brochure > campus pub > campus poster/presentation.

Any format for citation is fine, including abbreviated versions when you are short on space. Long author lists can be shortened by stating your place on the list, the PIs name, and et al., titles can be shortened to general topic, PMID# can substitute for much of a citation if necessary. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, add [in press] in place of unknown information.

If the data set from the campus presentation was later presented in poster format at a regional conference and then finally published in a national journal, you would cite is under Publication and then mention after the citation in the same space, "Data also presented orally at DDDD College Research Symposium x/x/xx, and again as a poster that won second place at the YYY Conference in Tucson z/zz/zz date."

If you were not the presenter for your poster, but your name is on the author list, you can include it, but give credit to the presenter, as research is a team sport, and it's important to give credit where it is due. If you presented, it's fine to say so.

There is little value in using a Conferences Attended slot, if you have already mentioned the name of the conference in a Posters/Presentation or Publications entry.

A manuscript in preparation or submitted doesn't belong on the application, but if you feel compelled to mention it regardless, add it at the end of a Research description on the affiliated project. An exception might be if your productivity is proven, in which case a submitted manuscript can be added to the same space as your cited publications, if room is available, and if your PI will include mention of it in their letter for verification.

If you wrote the grant that got funding or navigated an IRB process, mention it.

Use the MM space for impact, insights, how you were inspired, future directions. If some of the research description spills over into this space, you won't be the only one who's used it that way. Just be sure that at the 700 character mark you end a paragraph so it will flow smoothly into the MM space (which is distinguished by a blank line, like a paragraph break).

Succinctness is always good.

FAQ are continued in the next space.
Can you put yourself as a reference for the poster presentations? I did presentations in a few different labs so I cannot really place one single PI down.

Edit: also, if your reference does not have an email, do you omit the email?
 
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Catalystik

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1) Can you put yourself as a reference for the poster presentations? I did presentations in a few different labs so I cannot really place one single PI down.

2) also, if your reference does not have an email, do you omit the email?
1) If your posters can't be validated by an objective witness, they won't be much regarded. Put a person from the research team in the Contact slot for the most recent and then cite that one first in the space. For the others, add a Contact after the citation and description. If some won't fit, then mention them in the space of the affiliated research, especially if they were presented on campus (re-read item 20 of post #2 of this thread, which you quoted above).

2) It's fine to provide either a phone# or an email. Both are not required (despite the red asterisk).
 

kmd301

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Hi,

So I have two volunteer opportunities that took place in the same city and I wanted to group them together. Mostly because my first experience (volunteer at clinic) was cut short (only 5 hours) due to COVID. My question is that should I group the clinic volunteering with volunteering at a soup kitchen (started this past July)? If I should, how would I label the experience since it is both clinical and non-clinical? For reference, I don't have much clinical volunteering (aside from about 60 hours of medical brigade), but I have a ton of nonclinical, 50 hours of shadowing and about 1000 clinical paid experiences.

The main reason I want to mention the clinic is because it is run by a medical school that I also did a post-bacc in; I was scheduled for about 45 more hours until covid caused the cancellation.

Thanks in advance!
 

Catalystik

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So I have two volunteer opportunities that took place in the same city and I wanted to group them together. Mostly because my first experience (volunteer at clinic) was cut short (only 5 hours) due to COVID. My question is that should I group the clinic volunteering with volunteering at a soup kitchen (started this past July)? If I should, how would I label the experience since it is both clinical and non-clinical? For reference, I don't have much clinical volunteering (aside from about 60 hours of medical brigade), but I have a ton of nonclinical, 50 hours of shadowing and about 1000 clinical paid experiences.

The main reason I want to mention the clinic is because it is run by a medical school that I also did a post-bacc in; I was scheduled for about 45 more hours until covid caused the cancellation.
It would be most correct to use the "Other" tag, which is used for experiences that include elements across more than one designation. Your title could be something like Short-Term [city name] Clinic and Soup Kitchen Volunteering. That way the mixed elements won't be missed. Be sure to make it clear in each activity description the completed vs future hours. I suggest entering only the completed hours in the header, since you can't predict when/if you might resume the clinical experience.

NB: considering your heavy paid clinical experience hours and time with the Medical Brigade, this cut-short volunteering at your post-bac's clinic isn't going to hurt you.

If the soup kitchen is ongoing, state "hope to continue for 4 hr weekly through [date]".
 

kmd301

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It would be most correct to use the "Other" tag, which is used for experiences that include elements across more than one designation. Your title could be something like Short-Term [city name] Clinic and Soup Kitchen Volunteering. That way the mixed elements won't be missed. Be sure to make it clear in each activity description the completed vs future hours. I suggest entering only the completed hours in the header, since you can't predict when/if you might resume the clinical experience.

NB: considering your heavy paid clinical experience hours and time with the Medical Brigade, this cut-short volunteering at your post-bac's clinic isn't going to hurt you.

If the soup kitchen is ongoing, state "hope to continue for 4 hr weekly through [date]".
Thank you very much!

Quick question:

1. What should I input for contact information? I'm guessing the soup kitchen as it is more long term.
 
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Catalystik

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I an organization called warm up America, where you knit or Crochet squares that can be sewn into blankets for people in need. Will these count as volunteer hours in my application? How will I incorporate this into my application if there is no point person or way of keeping track of my hours?
If you list it under the Hobbies designation, a Contact is not required to validate it, as would be needed for a Volunteer activity.
 
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hi @Catalystik. quick question for you! for the activities section, I am grouping 2 activities in one . For the main header, I plan on writing the most recent activities name, contact info, address etc. but for TOTAL HOURS section, do I combine both the first and second activities's hours?

For example:

  • Activity 1 name, contact info, location etc
    Total hours: hours of Activity 1 + Activity 2 =100

    Description:
    -Activity 1 description,
    -Activity 2 description, 20 hours
 

Catalystik

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hi @Catalystik. quick question for you! for the activities section, I am grouping 2 activities in one . For the main header, I plan on writing the most recent activities name, contact info, address etc. but for TOTAL HOURS section, do I combine both the first and second activities's hours?

For example:

  • Activity 1 name, contact info, location etc
    Total hours: hours of Activity 1 + Activity 2 =100

    Description:
    -Activity 1 description,
    -Activity 2 description, 20 hours
The Total Hours space in the header would include the hours for activity 1 and activity 2 added together. In the description, include the subtotaled hours for each. For the second-listed activity include organization, its datespan, and contact, as well (address isn't necessary)
 
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The Total Hours space in the header would include the hours for activity 1 and activity 2 added together. In the description, include the subtotaled hours for each. For the second-listed activity include organization, its datespan, and contact, as well (address isn't necessary)
thank you, i really appreciate all your replies on here. it's been very helpful :giggle:
 
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Catalystik

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I volunteer, and have several leadership positions, in a grassroots, student-led organization. I am not really accountable to any one supervisor or manager; medical students created the org, and even though we have national-level leadership, they do not keep track of my hours. Most of my work is pretty independent -- I collect information and organize donations on my own, with the help of one other local regional leader. I also serve on a subcommittee; I do report to the head of that subcommittee, but again, I count my own hours and track my own performance.

I have a couple of questions:
1) Who do I put as the contact for this activity?
2) How do I ensure verification of my hours? Is there anything I can or should be doing?
I track my own hours via a Google Doc. I am also listed as leadership on the website of this org, so it's not something that has zero paper trail.
1) You can list yourself, a faculty advisor aware of the activity, or whomever can best to attest to your greatest impact: the local regional leader or the head of the subcommittee.

2) Tracking one's own hours is always a good idea, so it's well done to keep a log. For any of the last three, you might want to have a conversation with the best choice regarding when you started and your recorded hours of involvement, so you are sure they are on board with the number of Total Hours you plan to list (and being used as a Contact). There's no rush to do this, as verification is unlikely (if it happens) until you've committed to one school.
 

Catalystik

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I was apart of a club in undergrad that did several outreach and volunteering activities for the community. We invited speakers to talk about science and conducted hands-on demonstrations for the local children interested in science in he districts near our school. I was wondering if I would put this activity as Extra Curricular or Non-Clinical Volunteering? I can see it going both ways but I was not too sure. I would really appreciate your help in this. Thanks!
Nonclinical volunteering seems suitable if you omit any general club meetings, travel, training, etc from your hourly totals and only include the dates and times when you performed a service to the community.
 

galaxyandstars

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For one of my hospital volunteering, the supervisor retired. Should I list the new one, or put my retired supervisor with the hospital's contact number? Reason being is I have no idea who the new supervisor is (the department is closed as well due to COVID, unable to reach anyone)
 

Catalystik

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For one of my hospital volunteering, the supervisor retired. Should I list the new one, or put my retired supervisor with the hospital's contact number? Reason being is I have no idea who the new supervisor is (the department is closed as well due to COVID, unable to reach anyone)
List the retired supervisor and the office where the new one can (theoretically) be reached.
 
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galaxyandstars

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I am starting a volunteer tutoring later this month.. i did unofficially do like 4 hours. I have no idea how many hours it will be when I actually start (range 2-10). What should I put in the hours, 0?
 
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Catalystik

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I am starting a volunteer tutoring later this month.. i did unofficially do like 4 hours. I have no idea how many hours it will be when I actually start (range 2-10). What should I put in the hours, 0?
Enter four hours but include in your description that you plan to participate x to y hours per month (using a range is fine) through [date]. We can do the math.
 

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