Apr 10, 2010
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Hi there! I'm a Canadian-American caucasian male (so none of that under-representation stuff) currently studying what is basically a double major in computer science and biology at the University of Waterloo. I'm in their co-op program, although I haven't had my first job yet. I'm expecting to finish my first year with a cGPA somewhere between 3.9 and 3.95 on the OSMAS scale. Anyways, I've been working on my planning my future ECs. I've gotten mixed reactions on my list. A couple doctors (admittedly not ad-coms) I've spoken to told me that they really liked the list and the fact that I was doing things I was passionate about rather than going through the standard premed checklist. Conversely,
a lot of older premeds I've spoken to have told me I'll lack volunteer experience and "compassion".*

I apologise in advance for the overuse of parantheses.

My EC list in no particular order:

1. Continue learning French and Spanish. I'm teaching myself on my own time (with the help of videos, software, books, websites, and native speakers). Currently, I've had much more success learning French than I've ever had in grade school. The Rosetta Stone software is wonderful. I currently have only a basic conversational grasp in both languages.

2. Learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. One's a striking art and the other's a grappling art. I've always regretted never sticking with a martial art as a kid. I've gone around studying and looking at a lot of the martial arts (i.e. taking the intro courses); after much consideration, those two seem the most natural for me. I highly doubt that I could make black belt in BJJ in four years, though (Muay Thai has no levels). My plan is to switch between the two every four months when I move between Waterloo and Toronto for co-op.

3. Finish all the lifeguarding leadership courses (I'm signed up to do this this summer). These courses would qualify me to teach NLS (the lifeguarding cert course in Canada), examine bronze level courses, teach all CPR and FA courses, and some other things. The pay is actually fantastic and, as a bonus, I wouldn't have to go in the water anymore (say what you will, standing basically still in barely heated water for hours on end gets very cold). I might even take the fourty hour first responder college course just for fun.

4. Live in Central America at a resort dive-shack for a few months so I can get my PADI dive-master and PADI dive-master instructor certifications (I need about seventy more dives before the last one). I currently have a standing invitation in the Dominican Republic at the dive college where I did my rescue-diver course. I would also be able to practice my Spanish and any other languages I may have learned. I would do this towards the end of my university career.

5. Do some snowboarding stuff. I didn't bloody go once this year. Last year, I went fourty-five times not counting work nights as an instructior (I competed in high school, and even won some regional comps; except for the amateur circuit, which is expensive and involves constant travelling, there's no where for me to go now). I still want to get my Level II Instructor CASI certification, which I'm more than qualified for.

6. Continue strength training and conditioning. I work out six times a week, and plan on keeping that up.

7. Get promoted to a lifeguard supervisor position. I just need to complete a certain number of lifeguarding hours (**** the Toronto strike!) and write a test. The only problem is that I'm not on good terms with the union (I'm not sure how much say they have in the promotion, though; I've seen them really stick their necks out to get morons promoted just because they've been with the city so many years, though...).

8. Find some interesting hospital clinical work to do. I got offered a position folding bedsheets and some other menial crap, but I turned that down for obvious reasons. Still looking. I've got some connections in the hospital keeping an eye out for any interesting paid or unpaid positions (i.e. research, volunteer, etc...).

9. Look into CIS track. If I can realistically do it without taking out too much time from my week, I might. There's one event where I know I can at least be a middle-of-the-pack athlete.

10. Continue writing fiction. I really enjoy this. I haven't sent anything in for publishing, though; I feel my work is still somewhat immature and I wouldn't want it published even if I had an offer. I also haven't time to pick-up a novel and read it since university started; I'll have to find a way to work that in (I'll eventually finish you, my dear Lovecraft anthology!). As an extension, I'm very good with a camera and editing software so I enjoy writing and filming movies with my friends as well.

11. Make somewhat of a deal out of my UC. I don't really want to do this but if it will help my chances... I was diagnosed in late high-school; I had to quit most of my sports training (even though this is the period where I went on my winning streak in snowboarding), I got really skinny and weak, etc... Anyways, I've managed to find the right combination of diet, exercise, stress relief, and medication. I'm going really strong right now.

Sigh. I just want to do stuff I'll enjoy. I refuse to play the stupid medschool checklist game, even if it'll get me in; I'm not going to pretend to be someone I'm not for some damn ad-com. If I can get some volunteer work in some of these fields, great. I'm not going to bend back over for it, though (I know I'm a compassionate person and that's why I want to be a doctor; however, I want to help in a way that I'll enjoy). If I get an oppurtunity to do enjoyable research, I will. I'm still first year, so I'm not even sure when research oppurtunities come up. I get along well with my current profs, but I feel as if I'm not the prime candidate they'd want helping them out (or w/e role they have; I haven't really looked into it).

My main priority is keeping up my health.

My second priority is keeping up my grades., although this kind of falls in with my third priority.

My third priority is building myself into somebody I can look at in the future as a mature adult and be proud of; advancing my skills in things I enjoy and consider important like science, math, interpersonal stuff, languages, creative writing, sports, martial arts, etc...

You have to keep in mind that I'm someone who gets bored (and consequently disruptive) very quickly. If I feel something isn't challenging me, I'll drop it rather quickly. If I can find volunteer work or research lthat challenges me, then good. If not, I'm not going to be someone's monkey if all it's going to do is get me a LoR and a virtually meaningless bullet on resume.

I'll be applying to solely Ontario schools and McGill on my first round. If I don't get an acceptance, I'll widen my search to American schools and other provinces.

Anways, I feel like I'd be at bursting point doing all of the stuff I listed. I'm not sure if I can tack anything else on. Keeping up a sport and working out is important to me, so I definitely wouldn't drop those.
 
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SSC2

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Mar 19, 2009
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I think you have a nice list of hobbies and EC's.

I have to disagree though, to me, volunteering isn't just a part of a "checklist." It's a good way to discover whether you really want to become a doctor. Helping people isn't just the same as helping SICK people. Being around them and getting patient contact is just a different experience. If you're not comfortable with it, (not you personally, but in general) then I don't know how you can deal with that in your career.

Shadowing is also an important part because it's good to know what different doctors do. Internal medicine vs. Surgery vs. Primary Care. Etc etc. I think it's good to be curious about something you're passionate about and a career you want to pursue.

Being curious and getting a hint of what being a doctor entails is a very big part of the decision to become one.

I agree though that folding sheets and whatever is boring-- try going for more patient contact (if you can hopefully find something like this) like escorting patients, feeding them,.. etc. I know a few associations have a respite programs which to me counts as patient contact because you see in person and help them with different activities.
 
Apr 10, 2010
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I think you have a nice list of hobbies and EC's.

I have to disagree though, to me, volunteering isn't just a part of a "checklist." It's a good way to discover whether you really want to become a doctor. Helping people isn't just the same as helping SICK people. Being around them and getting patient contact is just a different experience. If you're not comfortable with it, (not you personally, but in general) then I don't know how you can deal with that in your career.

Shadowing is also an important part because it's good to know what different doctors do. Internal medicine vs. Surgery vs. Primary Care. Etc etc. I think it's good to be curious about something you're passionate about and a career you want to pursue.

Being curious and getting a hint of what being a doctor entails is a very big part of the decision to become one.

I agree though that folding sheets and whatever is boring-- try going for more patient contact (if you can hopefully find something like this) like escorting patients, feeding them,.. etc. I know a few associations have a respite programs which to me counts as patient contact because you see in person and help them with different activities.
I have nothing against volunteer work that's interesting. I wouldn't mind being directly involved with patients and that sort of thing. It's just that any clinical volunteer position (in the area) I look into looks incredibly dull. Folding sheets, pencil pushing, registering names, etc... IF I was doing something like that I'd feel like I was just doing it so I could check off a box. What would I really get out of that? I like helping people, but I also want to be challenged.

As for shadowing doctors... How do you get into that without really knowing any (the only ones I have any connections to are some hot-shot cardiac surgeons who are in the OR all day)? And aren't there issues with patient-doctor confidentiality to consider? Isn't shadowing usually done in med-school?

Anyways, these are the issues I foresee with my list:

1. Some people have said that there aren't really any leadership or club positions in there (although I'd say supervising and instructing is an example of strong leadership, since people are paying you to do it).

2. My other activities would cut into my potential volunteer work. Would doing some clinical stuff sporadically be okay?
 
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SSC2

10+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2009
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I have nothing against volunteer work that's interesting. I wouldn't mind being directly involved with patients and that sort of thing. It's just that any clinical volunteer position (in the area) I look into looks incredibly dull. Folding sheets, pencil pushing, registering names, etc... IF I was doing something like that I'd feel like I was just doing it so I could check off a box. What would I really get out of that? I like helping people, but I also want to be challenged.

As for shadowing doctors... How do you get into that without really knowing any (the only ones I have any connections to are some hot-shot cardiac surgeons who are in the OR all day)? And aren't there issues with patient-doctor confidentiality to consider?
I understand that. That's why I suggested trying to find something where you would be more involved and get some patient contact. Volunteering by just doing desk work isn't even considered Clinical Experience, I would just list it as community service. If you know other pre-meds around your area, ask around what they did and how- ask the seniors that suggested you get some clinical experience.

I'm sure there must be some sort of Pre-med association at your school? Ask around for shadowing opportunities and what people did. I think some schools have a shadowing program within the pre-med program.

You can ask your primary doctor even if you want?

It was easier for me to gain clinical experience and shadowing because my parents know other doctors.

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1. Some people have said that there aren't really any leadership or club positions in there (although I'd say supervising and instructing is an example of strong leadership, since people are paying you to do it).

As for leadership, some people say that if you actually conduct the class, and input your own ideas to supervising/instructing it's more of a leadership position. But to me, either way would be okay to list as a leadership position.

Club positions are nice- if there is some club you've been regularly attending, maybe try to help out more than just attending?

I would worry more about clinical experience, and scores though. Good leadership won't even get looked at unless your other scores are solid. (which btw yours are great).

2. My other activities would cut into my potential volunteer work. Would doing some clinical stuff sporadically be okay?

I would say make it a habit, even if it's once a week for 2 hours or so isn't too bad. During the summers it might be easier to spare more time.
 
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Apr 10, 2010
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I understand that. That's why I suggested trying to find something where you would be more involved and get some patient contact. Volunteering by just doing desk work isn't even considered Clinical Experience, I would just list it as community service. If you know other pre-meds around your area, ask around what they did and how- ask the seniors that suggested you get some clinical experience.

I'm sure there must be some sort of Pre-med association at your school? Ask around for shadowing opportunities and what people did. I think some schools have a shadowing program within the pre-med program.

You can ask your primary doctor even if you want?

It was easier for me to gain clinical experience and shadowing because my parents know other doctors.

---------------

1. Some people have said that there aren't really any leadership or club positions in there (although I'd say supervising and instructing is an example of strong leadership, since people are paying you to do it).

As for leadership, some people say that if you actually conduct the class, and input your own ideas to supervising/instructing it's more of a leadership position. But to me, either way would be okay to list as a leadership position.

Club positions are nice- if there is some club you've been regularly attending, maybe try to help out more than just attending?

I would worry more about clinical experience, and scores though. Good leadership won't even get looked at unless your other scores are solid. (which btw yours are great).

2. My other activities would cut into my potential volunteer work. Would doing some clinical stuff sporadically be okay?

I would say make it a habit, even if it's once a week for 2 hours or so isn't too bad. During the summers it might be easier to spare more time.
Talking to some of older premeds is a good idea. I'll look into that after exams. As for my scores being great, we'll see once I get finish my degree and do the MCAT. I'm not the brightest guy; most of what we did this year was basically high-school stuff but in depth (maybe not math, but everything else). I feel like there a lot of smart people around me who would be kicking my ass if they only cared just a little bit (that nerdy, genius slacker stereostype is essentially everyone in CS here; the only reason I'm doing well is because I've been exposed to the material before and I do all the assignments). I have this fear everything gets a lot harder in upper years once the rest of the class decides to get their **** together. I also think the OSMAS GPA scale is on the generous side.

http://www.ouac.on.ca/omsas/pdf/c_omsas_b.pdf

Most schools are in the 3 range. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Sep 4, 2006
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Would doing some clinical stuff sporadically be okay?
Regular weekly involvement is preferred, even if only for two hours each week.

On the other hand, we have another applicant from Canada this season who decided to do things his own way and be true to himself, and he got some very nice acceptances despite his maverick, "I'm not going to follow the rules" approach. Perhaps he'll come around to give an opinion.
 
Apr 10, 2010
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The kind of volunteer work I'm mainly interested in is instructing and teaching (especially science and first aid). That's fairly easy to find oppurtunities for. It's the patient care stuff that's giving me trouble. I want to find something meaningful and interesting. Anywhere where I can maybe do first aid stuff? Volunteer to help out an EMT crew or something?

And, unfortunately, the last hospital I looked at asked for an eight hour a week commitment from all volunteers; that just isn't possible for me with my other ECs, school, and work (whether it be co-op or lifeguarding; I really need the money).
 
Sep 4, 2006
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If you have sports teams at your school, you might volunteer to assist the team doctor at games or such like. For EMT you might need some basic certification class first. If you can't find something sufficiently interesting that fits with your schedule, there's no rush to apply after third or fourth year. After graduating you can acquire the needed activities. About 1.5 years seems to be the average among applicants in the US.

For a better Canadian perspective, since you plan to apply there first, consider checking out www.premed101.com, which is the Canadian equivalent to SDN.
 
Apr 10, 2010
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If you have sports teams at your school, you might volunteer to assist the team doctor at games or such like. For EMT you might need some basic certification class first. If you can't find something sufficiently interesting that fits with your schedule, there's no rush to apply after third or fourth year. After graduating you can acquire the needed activities. About 1.5 years seems to be the average among applicants in the US.

For a better Canadian perspective, since you plan to apply there first, consider checking out www.premed101.com, which is the Canadian equivalent to SDN.
Thanks man. I'm actually active on premed101. I just wanted to get an American perspective since I have American citizenship and will likely be applying to American schools as well.