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

Catalystik

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I have a question about how to enter information about athletics. I have many accolades in a college sport, and I am not sure if I should mention them as a separate category. I don't think they would belong in the section about the athletic experience, or would they?
Keeping athletic recognitions in the same space with the sport description helps give context, but if you can’t fit them in, it’s fine to use an Awards/Honors space to list them.
 

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I have a preprint on biorxiv and want to know if its better to put it under my research section or as its own in publication?
It would be most correct to mention it in the affiliated Research entry. An exception would be if you already have an accepted peer reviewed publication. In that case you could mention the preprint as an aside in the same space, with wording that makes it clear you understand it hasn’t yet been “refereed.”
 
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If I had one bad semester due to an athletic injury, should I mention it in the Experience section under the most meaningful experience remarks?
Keep in mind that AMCAS displays GPAs year by year, not term by term. Your bad semester may not look “bad” enough to explain. Yes, you could mention it in the Activities area, or you could save it for a Secondary prompt about a challenge, a stress overcome, or an obstacle surmounted.
 

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Is playing with patients and their siblings at Ronald McDonald House considered clinical volunteering? I keep reading that if you can smell the patient, it's clinical, however, we're not in a clinical setting.
 
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It would be most correct to mention it in the affiliated Research entry. An exception would be if you already have an accepted peer reviewed publication. In that case you could mention the preprint as an aside in the same space, with wording that makes it clear you understand it hasn’t yet been “refereed.”

Thank you!
 
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Catalystik

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Is playing with patients and their siblings at Ronald McDonald House considered clinical volunteering? I keep reading that if you can smell the patient, it's clinical, however, we're not in a clinical setting.
The described activity would be open to variable interpretation by each reader who sees it. It’s better to underplay rather than overstate a role, so I suggest classifying it as nonclinical and letting adcomms make up their own minds about whether it edges into the “clinical” realm.
 
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I submitted my application in July and I just thought about something. For a full time research job I've been working for 3 years, I put 0 under hours. Is this okay? I guess I could have figured the hours assuming a 40 hour work week, but it was actually pretty irregular. I'd go in weekends alot, stay later, come in later, etc. My hours were not tracked.

Should I put something in my secondaries to clarify that this was a full time job I was working after I graduated undergrad?
 

Catalystik

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I submitted my application in July and I just thought about something. For a full time research job I've been working for 3 years, I put 0 under hours. Is this okay? I guess I could have figured the hours assuming a 40 hour work week, but it was actually pretty irregular. I'd go in weekends alot, stay later, come in later, etc. My hours were not tracked.

Should I put something in my secondaries to clarify that this was a full time job I was working after I graduated undergrad?
Did you say it was a full time job in the description?
 
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Did you say it was a full time job in the description?

I didn't explicitly. It is the postbac IRTA program through NIH, so I thought it'd be widely recognized.

I guess on every secondary now, I should find some way to explicitly state that I had this full time research job since graduation. Whoops
 

Catalystik

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I didn't explicitly. It is the [redacted] program, so I thought it'd be widely recognized.

I guess on every secondary now, I should find some way to explicitly state that I had this full time research job since graduation. Whoops
I agree it is widely recognized, and you surely included the three year datespan. Your description covered the work you did, which is obviously substantial. No one will think you worked for zero hours, possibly just that you didn't think to keep track of the hours.

You can clarify in Secondaries or future update letters, if it will make you feel better.
 
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Catalystik

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is it acceptable to use more than one slot for a single activity (so 2700 characters total)?
For some activities it would be acceptable, but generally one would break it down into multiple non-identical subcomponents, each havng its own dates and separate Total Hours. One example would be Military Service, where one might use the categories Military, Awards/Honors, and Leadership. Or, one multi-dimensional volunteer activity might be divided into its clinical and nonclinical components.

If this doesn't answer your question, feel free to give more detail about what you have in mind.
 
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There is an experience that I have from early college (so almost a decade ago) that I didn't enter into my Work/Activities section. For a few consecutive summers, I went to a Latin American country by myself to work on my Spanish language skills and to volunteer at a hospital (caring for young women with severe developmental disabilities; nothing clinical, I would brush their teeth etc). I didn't include this experience because I have no contact information for someone who could attest to this, and I also felt uncomfortable generally with the voluntourism issue.

Would it be acceptable to use this experience in my secondaries? Do I have to add some sort of wording to explain why I didn't put it down in my primary app?

Edit: There was also a food service job from college (~2y) that I did not include in my primaries, because I felt like it was not related at all to medical school apps. I now regret not including it! Could I also use this in my secondaries?
 
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Catalystik

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1) There is an experience that I have from early college (so almost a decade ago) that I didn't enter into my Work/Activities section. For a few consecutive summers, I went to a Latin American country by myself to work on my Spanish language skills and to volunteer at a hospital (caring for young women with severe developmental disabilities; nothing clinical, I would brush their teeth etc). I didn't include this experience because I have no contact information for someone who could attest to this, and I also felt uncomfortable generally with the voluntourism issue.

Would it be acceptable to use this experience in my secondaries? Do I have to add some sort of wording to explain why I didn't put it down in my primary app?

2) Edit: There was also a food service job from college (~2y) that I did not include in my primaries, because I felt like it was not related at all to medical school apps. I now regret not including it! Could I also use this in my secondaries?
1) Absolutely use it in Secondaries (which do not require a Contact)! If relevant, it would be 1) a good way to highlight the use of your Spanish speaking skills, and 2) demonstrate that you took yourself outside of your usual comfort zone and experienced a culture that was not your own (if that was not your birth country). Also, it was nonmedical community service and having returned to the site divorces it from the "voluntourism" label.

There's no reason to explain your omission of the activity from the Primary application.

2) If you have an experience from the food service job that helps to illustrate an important trait relevant to a med school applicant, or that responds directly to a Secondary prompt, go ahead and use it.
 
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1) Absolutely use it in Secondaries (which do not require a Contact)! If relevant, it would be 1) a good way to highlight the use of your Spanish speaking skills, and 2) demonstrate that you took yourself outside of your usual comfort zone and experienced a culture that was not your own (if that was not your birth country). Also, it was nonmedical community service and having returned to the site divorces it from the "voluntourism" label.

There's no reason to explain your omission of the activity from the Primary application.

2) If you have an experience from the food service job that helps to illustrate an important trait relevant to a med school applicant, or that responds directly to a Secondary prompt, go ahead and use it.

I really appreciate the feedback, thank you!
 
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one_step_at_a_time

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I know it's common for those with PhDs in academia to list students mentored in their CV. As a research assistant in a small lab, I've had the opportunity help new lab mates get started (this includes getting them acquainted with machinery, lab guidelines, and teaching them proper cell culture techniques and other lab techniques among some onboarding administrative work). These lab mates have been summer high school students, summer undergraduate students, and graduate students.

My two questions are: (1) does what I described count as mentoring, considering I didn't play a role in guiding their actual projects, and (2) if it is mentorship, would it even make sense to use characters in the meaningful part of the work and activities section to list students? This experience is meaningful regardless, I'm just not sure if I should use a portion of the allotted character to list mentees.
 
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for those putting multiple activities into ONE slot , how are you dealing with the fact they only let you list one contact?
 

Catalystik

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I know it's common for those with PhDs in academia to list students mentored in their CV. As a research assistant in a small lab, I've had the opportunity help new lab mates get started (this includes getting them acquainted with machinery, lab guidelines, and teaching them proper cell culture techniques and other lab techniques among some onboarding administrative work). These lab mates have been summer high school students, summer undergraduate students, and graduate students.

My two questions are: (1) does what I described count as mentoring, considering I didn't play a role in guiding their actual projects, and (2) if it is mentorship, would it even make sense to use characters in the meaningful part of the work and activities section to list students? This experience is meaningful regardless, I'm just not sure if I should use a portion of the allotted character to list mentees.
1) Yes, it's mentoring or teaching, which goes under a Teaching label.

2) Don't waste characters by listing your mentees. No adcomm will care about specific names.
 

Catalystik

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for those putting multiple activities into ONE slot , how are you dealing with the fact they only let you list one contact?
Additional Contacts are listed in the description of the second through nth activity in the narrative box. For Shadowing, after listing three-four of them, you can refrain from the rest and make the description more generic.
 
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Catalystik

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I'm in an intensive medical immersion program where for one year, I worked with two doctors in a wide variety of tasks including clinical research, rounding, shadowing, and clinical exposure. I can only use one spot on AMCAS for this activity and it was about 300 hours in all. Most of the time was spent in a clinical setting but it was much more hands on and I did more stuff than traditional shadowing yet it wasn't clinical volunteering as I didn't directly help patients rather I worked with these two PCPs in helping the patient. What would be best for me to label this as or can I label it as whatever I like as i did research and shadowing experiences?
When an experience includes multiple subcomponents and you can't separate them out into multiple spaces (or group some of them with other similar activities), use the "Other" or the "Extracurricular" tag. The name you give the activity can include the most important included categories.
 
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in my app i focused primarily on emphasizing the results / awards from each of my activities, and not so much "how will this make me a better doctor" (i feel it should be pretty self-explanatory and wanted them to speak for themselves, without having to use up characters on something obvious). is this okay or should i add more "reflection / what i learned" even if it's obvious from the activity itself? honestly wish there were more than 700 characters...
 

Catalystik

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in my app i focused primarily on emphasizing the results / awards from each of my activities, and not so much "how will this make me a better doctor" (i feel it should be pretty self-explanatory and wanted them to speak for themselves, without having to use up characters on something obvious). is this okay or should i add more "reflection / what i learned" even if it's obvious from the activity itself? honestly wish there were more than 700 characters...
Adcomms can connect the dots for themselves. Don't feel compelled to do it for them.

Every activity description should be written to best represent you. You should not use a formulaic approach that doesn't vary from space to space. If you have characters left after the activity description (if it's not self-evident), your role (if not obvious), and what you accomplished, by all means add some reflection or an anecdote.
 
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I'm having trouble classifying one of my activities. I was part of my ethnic church's band/orchestra from elementary school until sophomore year of undergrad. I have over a 1,000 hours spent from practicing to performing. In addition several hundred of those hours are spent as section leader. My application is very weak in regards to leadership. Should I put it under artistic endeavors, hobbies, or leadership? Thank you
 

Catalystik

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I'm having trouble classifying one of my activities. I was part of my ethnic church's band/orchestra from elementary school until sophomore year of undergrad. I have over a 1,000 hours spent from practicing to performing. In addition several hundred of those hours are spent as section leader. My application is very weak in regards to leadership. Should I put it under artistic endeavors, hobbies, or leadership?
You have some choices, depending on how many spaces remain at your disposal, how much you have to say, and how important having a dedicated Leadership-Not Listed Elsewhere space would be to your application.

1) A Leadership space should include only the date range and total hours for the leadership position. So an activity entitled "Section Leader of X" would be suitable for such a space. You can refer to the preceding general music involvement in the narrative, though.

2) An Extracurricular or Artistic Endeavors space can include the full date range and all the hours of your musical involvement plus the leadership in one space (adding the Section Leadership position to the title of the space helps it stand out). So maybe use a title like "General Band Member & then Section Leader." You would mention the dates of the leadership role in the narrative. The Hobbies category is a good option if you prefer not to list a Contact.

3) Since you have enough leadership hours, you can split the leadership and the general membership into two spaces, each with their own dates and total hours.

A side note: adcomms will be most interested in what you've done during the college years, so be sure to make some note of the level of your most recent involvement. You could also consider using the Repeated feature to divide your dates and hours of involvement into pre-college and college categories. Both datespans and hourly totals appear at the top of the entry.
 
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Thank you for creating this thread! I have two questions:

1. I am a non-traditional applicant with significant basic science and clinical research experiences that have resulted in 3 peer-reviewed publications and 6 poster presentations/abstracts in national and international conferences. Unfortunately, I am unable to fit them all into one box, and I would need to remove another box in order to fit a Presentations/Posters box. I was wondering, what is the bare minimum of information you prefer to see in terms of PMID, specific journals, conferences attended, etc.? Do you prefer if applicants split them into two boxes? How important to you are publications and presentations, and would it be advantageous for me to split them up?

2. My research findings from one study have been recognized by numerous local news articles. Based on your experience, would this be included under the Honors/Awards/Recognition, Publications, or the specific Research/Lab section? Would you and admission committees be interested in learning the specific news sites? I am running a bit low on space, but I can make room if these would help my application.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!
 
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Catalystik

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1. I am a non-traditional applicant with significant basic science and clinical research experiences that have resulted in 3 peer-reviewed publications and 6 poster presentations/abstracts in national and international conferences. Unfortunately, I am unable to fit them all into one box, and I would need to remove another box in order to fit a Presentations/Posters box. I was wondering, what is the bare minimum of information you prefer to see in terms of PMID, specific journals, conferences attended, etc.? Do you prefer if applicants split them into two boxes? How important to you are publications and presentations, and would it be advantageous for me to split them up?

2. My research findings from one study have been recognized by numerous local news articles. Based on your experience, would this be included under the Honors/Awards/Recognition, Publications, or the specific Research/Lab section? Would you and admission committees be interested in learning the specific news sites? I am running a bit low on space, but I can make room if these would help my application.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!
1) Here is an example of a super condensed format using PMID#. I encourage you to use PMID whenever possible as everyone doesn't have access via DOI. See if you can make this work for you, keeping in mind that you don't have to list everything. (Though I generally disagree with including submitted manuscripts, there might be a place for it when one wants to demonstrate super-productive involvement and has a proven pattern of acceptance).
Abridged bibliography in the following format:
Shortened Title; Shortened Journal/Book; Pubmed ID/Location/Status.

1st Author:
TSUP; BBA; PMID 22192777
Rhodopsin Superfamily; Nature; Submitted
Efflux Proteins: Microbial Efflux Pumps; Horizon Scientific Press; Accepted (date)
Lead and Mercury Transporters (2 articles); Encycl. of Metalloproteins; ISBN 978-1-4614-1532-9 Jan. '13
MFS; FEBS J; PMID 22458847

2nd Author:
PTS; ELS; Search PTS on www.els.net
Transp. Protein Evol.; Protein Families; Accepted (date).

Co-author:
Phylogenetic char.; JMMB; PMID 22286036
APC; JMMB; PMID 22627175
Transposons; Mutagenesis; Accepted (date)
Mer; WASP; Accepted (date).

Read item 20 from post #2 of this thread for when/how posters/presentations can be included along with the related publication, even though it is otherwise preferred that they be listed in their own Posters/Presentations spot.

2) No and No. Don't toot your own horn. Let the PI do it for you.
 
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1) Here is an example of a super condensed format using PMID#. I encourage you to use PMID whenever possible as everyone doesn't have access via DOI. See if you can make this work for you, keeping in mind that you don't have to list everything. (Though I generally disagree with including submitted manuscripts, there might be a place for it when one wants to demonstrate super-productive involvement and has a proven pattern of acceptance).


Read item 20 from post #2 of this thread for when/how posters/presentations can be included along with the related publication, even though it is otherwise preferred that they be listed in their own Posters/Presentations spot.

2) No and No. Don't toot your own horn. Let the PI do it for you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed response! I really appreciate it!
 
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For a college football player, do I have to submit repeated dates for each year? Or can I make it one continuous entry of 4 years?
Also, what about a scholarship program that lasted all four years, besides when we were home for summer and winter break?
 

Catalystik

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1) For a college football player, do I have to submit repeated dates for each year? Or can I make it one continuous entry of 4 years?
2) Also, what about a scholarship program that lasted all four years, besides when we were home for summer and winter break?
1) One continuous datespan entry is fine, since it's known that football is seasonal. You might want to include the actual hours of participation (practice and games) per week during the season in your description, so the intensity of involvement is clear. If things are different during this COVID year, mention that, too.

2) You need not use Repeated dates for that either.
 
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1) One continuous datespan entry is fine, since it's known that football is seasonal. You might want to include the actual hours of participation (practice and games) per week during the season in your description, so the intensity of involvement is clear. If things are different during this COVID year, mention that, too.

2) You need not use Repeated dates for that either.
Thank you!!!
 
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Hi,
I just have a quick question of how I could classify this experience. I made a poster board and presented it at the student symposium, but it was never actually published or anything. I did plenty of market research, but I'm not sure if I could list that under research/lab. It was initially for a class project, but it ended up picking up a lot of steam around campus and turned into me participating in pitch competitions and meeting with potential investors in the community. So I'm thinking maybe "Other?"

Here it is:
I cofounded Doctor on Board, a business initiative where we aspired to implement medical technology into vehicles. I created a steering wheel with sensors that could detect abnormal heart rates and rhythms. This would hopefully prevent car accidents by informing drivers if it was safe or not for them to drive. Although we performed extensive market research, participated in pitch competitions, and presented our poster at the student symposium, we faced challenges with clinical trial funding and FDA approval. While the product never launched, this experience refined my ability to gather appropriate research data and also to effectively communicate my thoughts to different audiences.
 
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Catalystik

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I just have a quick question of how I could classify this experience. I made a poster board and presented it at the student symposium, but it was never actually published or anything. I did plenty of market research, but I'm not sure if I could list that under research/lab. It was initially for a class project, but it ended up picking up a lot of steam around campus and turned into me participating in pitch competitions and meeting with potential investors in the community. So I'm thinking maybe "Other?"

Here it is:
I cofounded Doctor on Board, a business initiative where we aspired to implement medical technology into vehicles. I created a steering wheel with sensors that could detect abnormal heart rates and rhythms. This would hopefully prevent car accidents by informing drivers if it was safe or not for them to drive. Although we performed extensive market research, participated in pitch competitions, and presented our poster at the student symposium, we faced challenges with clinical trial funding and FDA approval. While the product never launched, this experience refined my ability to gather appropriate research data and also to effectively communicate my thoughts to different audiences.
The "Other" category is a good choice. Or Leadership. Be sure to give the space a title that piques interest, rather than something too generic, like Engineering Class Project. Try to add more detail about your particular (engineering-based) contribution to the effort.
 
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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.
For AMCAS I omitted Deans list/ conference sports academic teams/ etc and just included more prestigious awards. But for AACOMAS since you don't have a cap should I include all them in there? Or do you think that would pull away from the more prestigious awards with an excessively long list?
 

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For AMCAS I omitted Deans list/ conference sports academic teams/ etc and just included more prestigious awards. But for AACOMAS since you don't have a cap should I include all them in there? Or do you think that would pull away from the more prestigious awards with an excessively long list?
Just include the more prestigious awards. You don’t want a reader‘s eyes to glaze over or dilute the impact of the good stuff.
 
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Just include the more prestigious awards. You don’t want a reader‘s eyes to glaze over or dilute the impact of the good stuff.
Do you think presidents list for a college sport conference is any more significant? Or same useless cookie cutter awards?
 

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Do you think presidents list for a college sport conference is any more significant? Or same useless cookie cutter awards?
Explain it. What are the criteria? How selective is it?

BTW: Each recognition you include should have this information, if they aren't totally self-explanatory/universally understood.
 
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Explain it. What are the criteria? How selective is it?

BTW: Each recognition you include should have this information, if they aren't totally self-explanatory/universally understood.
It is more or less just in the Football conference if you have above a 3.75gpa you receive presidents list honors. There are no extracurricular ties or anything like that.
 

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It is more or less just in the Football conference if you have above a 3.75gpa you receive presidents list honors. There are no extracurricular ties or anything like that.
As your GPA speaks for itself, I think you can safely omit that recognition as it will not add to your candidacy.
 
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Hey, I have a question about adding something to secondary applications under additional comments. I have been with this volunteer organization for 2 years, and I was just notified that I was selected for an annual outstanding volunteer award. This award recognizes a volunteer that demonstrates significant commitment to the organization and who is a strong advocate of its mission. Would it be appropriate to put a blurb in "additional comments" on secondaries about receiving this?
 
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Hey, I have a question about adding something to secondary applications under additional comments. I have been with this volunteer organization for 2 years, and I was just notified that I was selected for an annual outstanding volunteer award. This award recognizes a volunteer that demonstrates significant commitment to the organization and who is a strong advocate of its mission. Would it be appropriate to put a blurb in "additional comments" on secondaries about receiving this?
Yes.
 
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If I shadowed different physicians when I went home for summer and winter breaks only, how should I enter in the date range?
Something like this? I'm not sure how to include the winter break dates.
5/2016-8/2016
5/2017-8/2017
5/2018-8/2018
5/2019-8/2019
 

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If I shadowed different physicians when I went home for summer and winter breaks only, how should I enter in the date range?
Something like this? I'm not sure how to include the winter break dates.
5/2016-8/2016
5/2017-8/2017
5/2018-8/2018
5/2019-8/2019
There are multiple ways to do it, including your approach of using the Repeated feature. Another option would be using only the most recent date range in the header and mentioning the others in aggregate in the narrative box (after the first description, and subtotal of hours), like, "Also, between 5/2016-8/2018, 42 more hours shadowing a Pediatric Nephrologist, Internist, and Family Doctor during office hours. If you have the space, you could provide names and contact information for the docs you shadowed in years past. Or instead, you could add more description of a particularly interesting case or an impact statement.
 
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There are multiple ways to do it, including your approach of using the Repeated feature. Another option would be using only the most recent date range in the header and mentioning the others in aggregate in the narrative box (after the first description, and subtotal of hours), like, "Also, between 5/2016-8/2018, 42 more hours shadowing a Pediatric Nephrologist, Internist, and Family Doctor during office hours. If you have the space, you could provide names and contact information for the docs you shadowed in years past. Or instead, you could add more description of a particularly interesting case or an impact statement.

Okay, awesome!
Could another option be listing 5/2016 - 8/2019 and the total aggregated hours, and then in the description box specifying when and the number of hours I shadowed physicians during that date range?
 

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Okay, awesome!
Could another option be listing 5/2016 - 8/2019 and the total aggregated hours, and then in the description box specifying when and the number of hours I shadowed physicians during that date range?
Yes. Any of these options work fine.
 
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Some schools don't have an "additional comments" prompt. If they don't have this space, should I still let them know about this award? Should I try to shoehorn it into a prompt about "what are your plans for next year?"
I can think of a graceful way that the information could be included in such a prompt if you continue to serve in the same organization, so go for it.

You said earlier that you had been "selected" for the award. Does it still have to be conferred?
 
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I can think of a graceful way that the information could be included in such a prompt if you continue to serve in the same organization, so go for it.

You said earlier that you had been "selected" for the award. Does it still have to be conferred?

Yes, it won't be given to me until late September
 

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