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Seeking advice re: relevant employment

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LeFauconPelerin

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Hi all!

I hope you guys can give me a hand with this, although I am honestly not sure I am in the right place. I may not qualify as a non-trad. yet, but I bet I will sometime soon.

Before I state the question, I need to give a little background info -- and while it's a pet peeve when people list all their accomplishments and whatnot, this may actually be relevant.

I graduated last year with roughly a 3.9, and received a Fulbright scholarship for a year of research in West Africa. I am coming up on the end of my time in Benin (little nothing country between Nigeria and Togo -- if you picture West Africa as being an arm, Benin's just about the armpit), and need to start making some decisions about next year.

I am going to be following my wife around for at least a year, possibly up to three, before I start medical school. Whatever shall I do with all this time? Well, my undergrad was in exercise and health sciences, and French -- so I've got lots of physio./anatomy background, all the prereqs, etc. etc. I didn't do any microbio, nor do I have any research experience other than my Fulbright (which is in public health, nothing lab-oriented). I won't tell you my MCAT score, but it was plenty good enough to get in at many schools. Regardless, I am sure I can improve it a great deal if I hone my bio/microbio/genetics skills...so I am considering pursuing an MA in Bio at WUSTL while I wait for my wife to finish grad school.

Thing is, it's just an evening program, so I need to figure out how to fill my days. The toss-up at this point is between enrolling in AmeriCorps, trying to find a full-time job at one of the zillion hospitals in St. Louis, or getting an EMT certification and doing that.

Factors are as follows --
*AmeriCorps would come across as a 'volunteer' sort of activity, right? I've already got like 600 hours worth...do I need more?
*working in a hospital would be great, but I am apparently wholly lacking in a) licensures and certifications, and b) marketable skills, so I don't necessarily like my chances of finding a job with any kind of human interaction
*getting EMT certified can be a LONG process, and I don't know that it makes sense to invest a year in that (during which we'd be getting mo' and mo' po', since neither of us would be working) if it's not going to set off flashbulbs in admissions committees' heads.
*doing one AmeriCorps program precludes part-time work at a hospital, and possibly volunteering, since I'd be on-call 24/7; on the other hand, it's the Emergency-Response Team. so that would have some sort of cachet. The other program would be teaching in inner-city schools; while I would enjoy it, and it would free up evenings or weekends for volunteering, it may not be as attention-grabbing.

Etc.

So here's the question -- given my current resume, I am certain I could apply and get into any number of run-of-the-mill medical schools. Unfortunately, my particular self-worth issue has always been a need for external validation...so I want a big name med degree, irrational as that is. So...what are your thoughts on my options?

Sorry I got so long-winded there. If you're patient enough to read to the end, I would appreciate any input you've got.

Many thanks!
 

Toofscum

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I am a non-trad post-bacc who worked in the hospital as a clinical research assistant.

I made about #30,000 per year and I didn't need any specific qualifications to get this job. It was a good job, gave me lots of interaction with patients, doctors, and nurses, and it was good exposure to medicine, and ultimately it may be the factor that causes me to drop my medical school aspirations (I was exposed to so many negatives of medicine through this job that I am not sure I want to pursue med school any longer.)
 

Law2Doc

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Toofscum said:
I am a non-trad post-bacc who worked in the hospital as a clinical research assistant.

I made about #30,000 per year and I didn't need any specific qualifications to get this job. It was a good job, gave me lots of interaction with patients, doctors, and nurses, and it was good exposure to medicine, and ultimately it may be the factor that causes me to drop my medical school aspirations (I was exposed to so many negatives of medicine through this job that I am not sure I want to pursue med school any longer.)

Just a word of caution on this from personal experience - if you are doing "clinical research", med school adcoms often consider this to be research experience, not clinical, notwithstanding the level of exposure to doctors/patients. You can try and spin it, but it won't fly everywhere. So to the extent schools are looking for clinical experience (and all do), you are probably best off if you also add some hospital volunteering/shadowing with direct patient interaction to your resume. (One adcom member told me that good clinical experience is only one in which there is a substantial likelihood that you will get thrown up on.)
To the OP, I'm not sure AmeriCorps would enhance an already volunteer laden and travel intensive resume as yours. If you are into this, by all means do it, but don't bother if it's just for the med school app. If you don't have hospital related clinical experience, you absolutely must do something to get some -- whether it is a job in a hospital, or a bit of hospital volunteering, or shadowing of a physician or two. Med schools need to know you know what medicine is all about firsthand. As for pay, if you already have the clinical experience and you want to round out your resume, you may want to consider some sort of medical related lab research (as you have indicated) if you can get it.
 

LeFauconPelerin

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Law2Doc -
thanks for the advice. That's good to know. I guess one of the things I'm not clear on is what constitutes clinical experience, etc. I didn't mention it in the original post, although I mentioned it in a question I posed in a different forum, but I did a 300-hour internship with an NGO and hospital in Nicaragua. 160 hours were shadowing docs in the ER, OR, and ICU...will that cut it? I guess I don't have a sense as to what is 'typical' or 'outstanding' or whatever in terms of experience in hospitals. I got directly involved with a couple of patients (got vomited on by a tourist ODed on valium), got to suture patients up in the outpatient surgery ward, etc. Feels to me as though I've got a good sense regarding what docs do...but like I said, I don't know how that stacks up to other people.
Re: research experience...what's the deal with it? Why do adcoms want to see it? And again, what constitutes research experience? I did a 60-odd page paper in French for my senior thesis, but I doubt they'd care...did an honors thesis for exercise and health science, but again, not something aimed towards publication. The Fulbright project gets called 'research' by the program, but it's mostly interviewing, volunteer work, and some archival stuff. When adcoms want research, is that always stuff in the lab? 'Cause I've done practically zip outside of class.

I guess I just don't know what is really meant by all the buzzwords we premeds toss around so easily.
 

Law2Doc

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LeFauconPelerin said:
Law2Doc -
thanks for the advice. That's good to know. I guess one of the things I'm not clear on is what constitutes clinical experience, etc. I didn't mention it in the original post, although I mentioned it in a question I posed in a different forum, but I did a 300-hour internship with an NGO and hospital in Nicaragua. 160 hours were shadowing docs in the ER, OR, and ICU...will that cut it? I guess I don't have a sense as to what is 'typical' or 'outstanding' or whatever in terms of experience in hospitals. I got directly involved with a couple of patients (got vomited on by a tourist ODed on valium), got to suture patients up in the outpatient surgery ward, etc. Feels to me as though I've got a good sense regarding what docs do...but like I said, I don't know how that stacks up to other people.
Re: research experience...what's the deal with it? Why do adcoms want to see it? And again, what constitutes research experience? I did a 60-odd page paper in French for my senior thesis, but I doubt they'd care...did an honors thesis for exercise and health science, but again, not something aimed towards publication. The Fulbright project gets called 'research' by the program, but it's mostly interviewing, volunteer work, and some archival stuff. When adcoms want research, is that always stuff in the lab? 'Cause I've done practically zip outside of class.

I guess I just don't know what is really meant by all the buzzwords we premeds toss around so easily.

Your clinical experience sounds fine to me. Be sure to play it up in your PS when you apply. As for research - it's not as required, but is sometimes helpful. Especially so if you are hoping to go to a more research oriented school (i.e. a top ranked school). There are basically two kinds of research that adcoms consider medical research: lab research and clinical research. Lab research involves science oriented lab experimentation, be it genetics, pharmaceutical chemistry or whatnot. Clinical research largely involves following patients in person or via chart/medical record data over time and seeing if various drugs, procedures, or complications have statistically significant results/dangers. (I'm sure others could give better definitions than I, but this is what I can manage off the top of my head). Hope this helps.
 
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