Ari1584

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2007
364
1
Status
Medical Student
So i recently met with an admissions counselor at UIC and she pointed out something on my app that threw me off track. My medical exposure includes volunteering at a hospital for a semester, shadowing a doctor as part of a mentorship program, and working at a plastic surgeon's office for the past three years. The plastic surgeon's office is where i have absolutely learned the most because she involves me in every aspect of her life. I am called into the room whenever there is an interesting case, I interact with patients and scribe for her during procedures, clean instruments, fill out billing, learn how she deals with raising kids and family life, learn about the doctor patient relationship, etc. She is truely amazing and has become a great mentor and a wonderful friend. SO...point being...the lady at UIC says "is this experience paid?" and i said yes. and she said "unfortunately bc its paid it doesn't have that much weight. You should be doing more volunteer things.".... Uhhh, okay...let me explain that i originally began this experience as a volunteer. My doctor said she wouldn't let me just come in and volunteer all the time and wanted to pay me at least a little. So I am getting paid bc she felt bad, but i am seriously getting paid minimum wage. It's nothing. I'm not there for the money, bc if i really needed money i would find a full time job that paid me much better! ....So I started up some more volunteer work (i have done many things in the past, but took time off the take the MCAT, got my scores, and now have to retake). I am now mentoring/tutoring underpriveladged kids (which i have been wanting to do for a while) and love it. I also wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter once a week bc i did it for a long time at school and absolutely love being with dogs. MY QUESTION IS: Should i skip the volunteering at the animal shelter and volunteer at a hospital instead?? I am not sure what looks better...i would def enjoy volunteering at the animal shelter more bc last time i was a volunteer at the hospital, i was stuck answering phones and seemed like i got in the way of the nurses on the floor. So is it better to do more hospital volunteer work even though i enjoy volunteering at the animal shelter more??? Thanks so much for reading this long message!
 

DrYoda

Space Cowboy
10+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2008
13,817
110
Dagobah System
Status
Attending Physician
I allways though clinical experience=clinical experience no matter if it was payed or not. I don't see how it makes a difference, you interact with patients and learn about the medical profession either way.

In general I would be skeptical of anthing a counselor says, they are known for not knowing what they're talking about.
 

Slowpoke

10+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2008
1,705
30
Maximum Security Anti-Zombie Fortress
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I read as much as I could the sparknote version:

student has been doing a 3 year-long paid desk job at a plastic surgeon's office. There the Psurg has mentored the student, counseler at Uni said paid positions aren't weighed as high as volunteer gigs. Student has partaken in other volunteer things.

Question: What the hell should I do with my time?

Answer: Whatever it is that makes you feel good, and ultimately will convey your passion the best during your interviews. A paid / volunteer position and their weights are controversial, but regardless it introduces you to the undiluted side of physician-hood and that's what counts; also a little window into patient contactism.

Remedy: Find a new counselor, or better yet, use this website as your counselor next time.
 

link2swim06

10+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2007
3,278
792
Status
Attending Physician
Don't trust pre-med advisors, mine told me DOs can't perform surgery, ever since I have never asked him for adivice
 

135892

Guest
10+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2007
1,367
4
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Don't trust pre-med advisors, mine told me DOs can't perform surgery, ever since I have never asked him for adivice
:lol:

Yeah... don't trust everything that pre-med advisors tell you
 

JackInTheBox

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2006
848
0
Status
Pre-Medical
People get confused because clinical experience =/= volunteering and vice versa. Your counselor was probably telling you to branch out and get some more diverse volunteering (non-medical) experience.
 
OP
A

Ari1584

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2007
364
1
Status
Medical Student
People get confused because clinical experience =/= volunteering and vice versa. Your counselor was probably telling you to branch out and get some more diverse volunteering (non-medical) experience.

Not sure if it matters, but i met with an admissions counselor at UIC med school..not my pre-med advisor. I guess thats the whole reason i was upset bc she works in their med office and tells pre-med students what UIC looks for and told me that they didn't really look at the paid experience with much weight. Should i not listen to her advice though?
 

fireflygirl

The Ultimate Blindian
10+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2007
888
21
Philadelphia
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Not sure if it matters, but i met with an admissions counselor at UIC med school..not my pre-med advisor. I guess thats the whole reason i was upset bc she works in their med office and tells pre-med students what UIC looks for and told me that they didn't really look at the paid experience with much weight. Should i not listen to her advice though?
I agree with what everyone else has said. I mean she was an admissions counselor there right, not THE admissions director or anything. I am sure that not everyone on admissions team is unanimous in who they think they should get into the school. I just think her answer is a little ridiculous because you obviously have gotten a lot out of that position and it sounds like you could articulate all that in a PS or in an interview and that's all that matters. One of my biggest extra cirrics was the job I held as a research coordinator for two years at a hospital and that's how I paid my bills and post bac classes. In fact, I had very little medical volunteer experience and it never once came up in an interview or was ever mentioned as a negative by any admissions person at a med school. Keep doing what you're doing. Good luck!
 
OP
A

Ari1584

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2007
364
1
Status
Medical Student
I agree with what everyone else has said. I mean she was an admissions counselor there right, not THE admissions director or anything. I am sure that not everyone on admissions team is unanimous in who they think they should get into the school. I just think her answer is a little ridiculous because you obviously have gotten a lot out of that position and it sounds like you could articulate all that in a PS or in an interview and that's all that matters. One of my biggest extra cirrics was the job I held as a research coordinator for two years at a hospital and that's how I paid my bills and post bac classes. In fact, I had very little medical volunteer experience and it never once came up in an interview or was ever mentioned as a negative by any admissions person at a med school. Keep doing what you're doing. Good luck!

Thanks so much for your response...it def clears things up. So just to make sure, its okay if i volunteer at the animal shelter INSTEAD of the hospital?
 

iduwanna

10+ Year Member
May 2, 2008
326
4
Status
Pre-Medical
Maybe they're worried that you will falter when you're confronted by a sick person.

Volunteering (or working for $) in a setting that exposes you to people with problems other than unsightly under-chin fat might attenuate some of the fear that you have no clue of what you're getting in to.
 

biophysicianai

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2008
238
4
Status
Medical Student
To the OP, it sounds to me like you've hit the jackpot. You've got a great gig that teaches you a lot, allows you to build a good relationship with a professional in a field in which you're interested, and even pays you! There isn't anyone who couldn't do more to brush up their resume, but yours at least sounds like it has quite a bit going for it.

In general I would be skeptical of anthing a counselor says, they are known for not knowing what they're talking about
Agreed here. I still remember my counselor in high school telling me that I should go to community college and from there, if I did well, I could transfer to my state school. I was in the top 5 (people, not percent) of my graduating class of nearly 800, an athlete, and had quite competitive standardized test scores. I'm now 3 years into an ivy league education, and am doing well. In short, counselors are typically the ones that need the counseling. You seem to be doing quite well for yourself, so keep it up. If you can find some other activity that you'd enjoy that could add to your resumue without detracting unduly from your quality of life, pursue it. Otherwise, hold steady and you'll be okay.
 

magikdoc

10+ Year Member
May 17, 2008
104
1
Status
Pre-Medical
You could also try contacting other ADCOM's in other medical schools? You don't have to rely solely on that one person's advice...

That being said, I am very surprised that UIC is being so nit picky about your extracurriculars. When you talked with her, did she seem to imply that she thought you were in it only for the money? If that is the case, get a good LOR from the physician explaining the real reasons why you were volunteering there.

After interviewing at UIC, I really likedd the ADCOM actually. They were super friendly and I loved the school. So don't get the impression they are all like that.
 

violet7

10+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2007
282
2
Status
Medical Student
MY QUESTION IS: Should i skip the volunteering at the animal shelter and volunteer at a hospital instead??
When I was submitting my primary AMCAS application I also wanted to include my animal shelter volunteer experience because I felt this is important part of who I am. However, my mentor (MD/PhD at prestigious med school in touch with adcoms) told me that I should omit this experience entirely as it won't add much weight to my application. I was hesitant at first but at the end did what he said and focused more on other experiences that my mentor found to be more interesting/significant for med school application purposes. So my answer would be yes, skip volunteering at animal shelter and concentrate on volunteering at hospital/shadowing physicians, etc.
 

fireflygirl

The Ultimate Blindian
10+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2007
888
21
Philadelphia
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Thanks so much for your response...it def clears things up. So just to make sure, its okay if i volunteer at the animal shelter INSTEAD of the hospital?
I think you are going to be just fine working for the animal shelter. In your first post, you mentioned two things alone that are clinically oriented and you said you have more things that you've done. My brother had solid grades and MCAT, had some clinical experience but spent his year off between graduation and starting med school doing advertising work since he'd always wanted to try it. And he was applying to schools during that year - he had not deferred for a year or anything. And he didn't do A SINGLE medically related thing in that time that he was applying. He now is at Dartmouth Med. So I don't think schools are going to care that you have other personal interests - instead, it's going to humanize your application and make them interested in the kind of PERSON you are. If you can put together a solid profile of strong grades, MCAT and your varied experiences and present it in a strong way, no one is going to hold this animal shelter experience against you.....you're doing the right thing!!!
 

Code Brown

Low man on the totem pole
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2004
1,111
0
Florida
Status
Attending Physician
Thanks so much for your response...it def clears things up. So just to make sure, its okay if i volunteer at the animal shelter INSTEAD of the hospital?
Ok, for all of you who are applying, not just Ari1584, please note that there are two aspects to the interview process at the majority of medical schools. The first is the screening and the second is the interview. The first is done by the admissions peeps who basically just look at your app to see if you have the pre-reqs (ie volunteering and clinical exposure) to get you an interview. The second aspect is all really interviewer dependent and how they feel about your file. As a student interviewer, I give you more credit for vounteering at a hospital. Why? Because I believe that having increased clinical exposure is better. When I look at an app, I look at it this way: I want to see 3+ months of clinical exposure and I want to see 3+ months of it in an unpaid fashion. That's it. Now if you work (ie. get paid) at an animal shelter, I look at it positively because it's a job. We all have to eat, and people do all sorts of things in ugrad to pay the rent. If it's volunteer work at an animal shelter, I basically give you the same amount of credit I would a hobby. That said, hobbies are important, so the volunteer work won't be a waste, its just that it will give you credit in a different area in my version of what I think is important in an application.