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Research without volunteering?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by AltruismINC, Jun 18, 2001.

  1. AltruismINC

    AltruismINC Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2001
    Hello everybody!

    I was wondering if volunteering experience is absolutely necessary to get into medical school? Have people gotten in without any?

    I am currently involved with clinical research. Our last project studied people with epilepsy for a standarization of a clinical psychological/emotional test and our current project is looking at the age progession of Alzheimer's diease in people with Down's syndrome. I am not doing anything else medically-related, but would I be considered a competative candate with a 3.85 GPA and lets hope a high MCAT score?

    I know this is a pretty selfish question, but I want to soothe my fears about not having enough stuff under my belt. My secondary experiences/activities section on my AMCAS application consists of only 7 experiences... it seems like people have an average of 20 on this board.

    I really care about working in a field where I can help people with whatever abilities I was lucky to be endowed with. But whenever I heard the word volunteering at my school, it always seems to be in the context of "it'll look good on your application." This sort of attitude most students have at my school sours me to even trying to look for a position at a hospital.

    Do I have the wrong attitude? I think in all reality, I just don't want to volunteer. Although, I do want to be in a medical career someday. Am I just a social-deviant who wont follow the path that medical students are practically forced to travel in order to "follow their dreams?" I have my doubts about myself, and I am sure almost everybody does at times... so basically, what I really want to hear is "oh yeah, I know X who got into Y school and they didnt have any volunteer experience." I usually hate being placated, but I think my caffeine buzz is wearing off and I need a little support.

    "Working-class hero is something to be / you think you are so clever and classless and free" - John Lennon
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  3. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    Volunteering is NOT necessary provided you have other medically relevant experience. The reason Volunteering is so highly touted is two fold:

    1) most pre-meds don't have the time, experience or where with all to secure a research job, especially paying ones, so volunteering is left

    2) volunteering is seen as giving back to the community, an altruistic act (despite the fact that many pre-meds are doing it to make their applications look good).

    Unless you desire to do some community work or expand your medical experience horizons, I see no reason why you ALSO need to volunteer in addition to your medically relevant research.

    Best of luck to you.

  4. ILoveThaiFood

    ILoveThaiFood Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    For me, what started as "this volunteering experience is going to look good on my application" often became an experience that I was so glad I had because I actually learned something from it. So, volunteering is not just something to boost your resume/application, but something that can enhance your personal growth. You'll get a better idea, after volunteering in a hospital in which you interact directly with patients, whether medicine is a career you want to pursue further. If your clinical research involves you to have direct interaction w/ patients, then you can volunteer in non-medical areas. The bottomline is that you may claim that you love to help people (which I believe), but for the admissions committees, they'd like to see that your experiences can back up that claim. These experiences DO NOT have to be medically-related, so you can basically volunteer for any organization that interests you and has a good cause. Also, it's not the quantity, but quality, of your experiences that matters (e.g. if you've only had 3, but you had committed years and years to those 3, then that tells me alot of positive things about you, than if you've had 30 in which each lasted only a month).
  5. lilycat

    lilycat Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    I applied and was accepted with very minimal volunteer experience -- during school I felt overwhelmed with my job, which was ~20
    hrs/week, plus my research job in a lab, another 15-20 hrs/week. On my AMCAS last year, my volunteer experience consisted mainly of shadowing physicians during nights and weekends, and a volunteer position I had recently started at a Planned Parenthood clinic. However, I strongly feel that my lack of significant volunteer experience kept me from getting interviews at lots of schools -- there are some schools that definitely place more of an emphasis on it than others -- I was told flat-out by one of the Stanford admissions committee members that one of the biggest things they look for is significant community service activities, and one of the two or three Duke secondary questions is to describe your most meaningful service activity. However, there are schools where it seems to be less emphasized (Wash U comes to mind for me), so my guess is that you would have a much stronger chance at those schools.
  6. doepug

    doepug Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I got into Johns Hopkins with a strong background in research and very little volunteer work... was also admitted to several other competitive med schools. Just be sure that you can convince an interviewer that you know what you're getting yourself into by becoming an MD.

    (MS II, Hopkins)
  7. Starflyr

    Starflyr Manic Faerie 10+ Year Member

    Apr 11, 2000
    Dickinson, Tx
    I got in in Tx without any volunteer experience - though I did shadow once (and played it up a LOT) - they never even mentioned it (there were lots of good reasons why, though). I also had research helps if you have it but I dont think it hurts if you dont (unless you did NOTHING else) and remember - sometimes on boards people stretch the truth a little - so dont worry about not having 20,000,000,000 extracurrics, ok?

    good luck!
  8. AltruismINC

    AltruismINC Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2001
    Thanks everybody for the help! I am not feeling so bad about having little volunteer work anymore. I think at the medical center where I am doing research I am gonna look for some volunteer activities this summer, even though it will not go on my application. This way I wont feel like a shmuck - although I'm sure I'll put it on my secondaries. :D
  9. kafka79

    kafka79 Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2001
    What are some other schools that seemed to emphasized GPA/MCAT/Research over service/volunteer activities?
  10. alaska

    alaska Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2002
    Is there anyone who can answer to kafka79's
    question? :D

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