capone2975

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what EC's are a must when applying to med school and look strong on the app? Shadowing, research, etc.? Also, how long should the committments be?

Thanks in advance for any info
 

mercaptovizadeh

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I would guess that shadowing and *some* clinical experience would be a must. Research definitely is not a *must* at lower ranked schools. At higher ranked schools, research is not a must, but you have to be able to compensate with superior clinical, leadership, shadowing, volunteering, i.e. non-research experiences.
 

tigress

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No EC is really a MUST. People with all sorts of combinations of ECs can get in. What you have to have is some good ECs, and be able to prove that you know something about being a doctor and want to do it. So shadowing is good, volunteering is good, and you should probably have one or the other. That said, my best friend shadowed a few docs but for only 1 day each, and she had no clinical volunteer experience (but some non-clinical stuff), and she got in everywhere she wanted, including her top school (which is a good school). It totally depends on so many factors, including where you want to be competitive, your GPA and MCAT score, etc. I think research sort of shows dedication, and just looks good because it shows you're scientifically minded or something.

Personally, at this point I'm trying to increase my shadowing experience. I think that will be really interesting for me, and prove that I'm interested in clinical things. Hopefully I can get a LOR from it, too. I am also going to volunteer with the Red Cross at blood drives, but that's really more for wanting to do it than for my application, since I'm applying this summer so it's a bit late to get extra stuff like that in.

Oh, in terms of committment, I really don't know. I think spending more than a week total with a doctor for shadowing would be best. The more volunteer hours the better, of course.

Hope this helps. I'm still looking for advice myself.
 

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I would say shadowing is a must. I had a school reject me purely on the basis of "not enough shadowing" (or that is what they told me). Their rationale was that an applicant needs to show an active interest.

That being said, other schools still accepted me.
 

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Yes, if there is anything, I would def shadow a doctor. Volunteering and research are good, but I wouldn't say they are necessary. I've heard shadowing a doc shows that you have a great interest in the profession of medicine, which I would guess would be from a clinical standpoint, and that you've gone out of your way to contact a doctor and spend a few hours with them, if not more. I dont think you need to shadow more than maybe one or two doctors, at the least, but make sure you can explain what was special about those shadowing experiences....
 

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0 hours of shadowing or volunteering in a hospital and 3 acceptances this year.

Schools just dont seem to care that you have x hours of shadowing or volunteering or they dont evaluate them that way. Besides anyone can phudge their hours since AMCAS is a honor system. As longs as you have good anecdotes you can develop on in your essasies and interview about your motivation to enter medicine, you'll be fine.

Just my 2 cents, but it seems like the top tier schools like hardcore bench research and some atypical ECs that they can brag about in a marketing brochure.
 

Iwy Em Hotep

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Here's the key:

When you go to your interview, you will (without a doubt) be asked two questions:

1) Why do you want to be a doctor?
2) Why do you want to go to our school?

Telling them good answers isn't enough. You have to be able to show your commitment, and the way to do that is through what you've done.

So do whatever you want to do. But remember, people will have a hard time believing your reasons for wanting to be a doctor if you've never even seen what a doctor does.
 

45408

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I don't know that there's really a huge benefit to shadowing the same doctor/same specialty repeatedly - the few times that I have gone back with the same doctor, I basically saw more of the same. Once you see what they do, it's not going to be anything new the next time around.
 

Prophecies

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Admissions committees will evaluate less WHAT you do, but rather that you are doing it. For example, I did not shadow a doctor or volunteer in a hospital (well, just a few times), but I did do a great deal of research during my undergraduate education. In addition, I tutored high school and college students in physics, bio, and orgo. When I went to interviews I was asked about these things, the interviewers ALWAYS told me that it sounded like I was truly interested in the activities and they thought it gave me a uniqueness.

A friend of mine spent four years working with a doctor during the summers, and during school she volunteered at University Hospital. We pretty much applied to the same schools and they asked her about her unique experiences. The point is that (to some extent) it doesn't really matter WHAT you do, as long as you enjoy doing it and it shows that you have passion for something. If volunteering is your thing, then do it, and if it isn't...then don't volunteer. You won't like it and it will show in your interviews. This goes for any other extracurricular activites you may WANT TO DO. Good luck to you! :luck:
 

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I'm going to agree with the usual shadowing, volunteering, and research. I personally haven't done any volunteering, but it seems to be a staple among other premeds, I'm not sure to how much benefit for them or detriment to me. I did a program with stints of shadowing in different specialties, and that was enlightening to see various parts of medicine and how broadly it spans. From all I have seen, top schools love research, I think bc that's pretty much how they become top schools.

How long? Research at least a year if possible, and ideally get some kind of publication out of it. That said, it's best to find one lab and stick with it from early on, so choose wisely and don't plan on bailing quickly. Volunteering--if I did engage in some I would do something long term with one organization as opposed to isolated events here and there. I think you would derive more meaning and relationships from it that way. Short term in any EC is not really seen as a good thing as it shows lack of commitment or distaste for that EC. I guess short term is anything one semester or less.

EC to look strong--"leadership". This is supposed to be found in various student clubs and premed or honor societies. I am finding that student clubs are bogus and highly inefficient in their operation and leadership. You may be able to fool people that you obtained leadership experience in these, but if you want real experience perhaps get involved in something that deals with money, like a job (manager, supervisor). That way your ability to lead will actually be tested and have consequences that matter. If you do lead a club make sure it is a good one and you are surrounded by strong fellow officers (I'm bitter).
 

45408

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Shredder said:
I am finding that student clubs are bogus and highly inefficient in their operation and leadership.
So maybe you should take the helm and make it worthwhile and highly efficient? :rolleyes:


Anyways, another way you can show leadership (although this was kind of thrust upon me :laugh: ) is to have a leading role in a research lab. I'm the project manager for my lab, which does have responsibility to it - the PI didn't just hand out cool-sounding titles for everyone. Like I said though, he just picked three of us to be lab manager, project manager, and secretary. I can't imagine that a PI would turn down your taking on more responsibility though.
 

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This goes for any other extracurricular activites you may WANT TO DO. Good luck to you! :luck:
Everyone can (and does) go on about how it doesn't matter what you do as long as you want to do it, but the reality is that adcoms do look upon certain activities as pluses (research, shadowing, volunteering, leadership) and others probably as not so pluses (skateboarding, chess, pr0n star), leaving premeds playing the sad but inevitable cookie cutter game. People may claim they did do what they wanted and still got in; it is likely that their activities happened to coincide with those sought by adcoms. I get the feeling that it would be more helpful to these posters to give them the specific tips that they are probably seeking rather than generic advice that can be easily found online. Just thoughts.
 

Prophecies

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Shredder said:
Everyone can (and does) go on about how it doesn't matter what you do as long as you want to do it, but the reality is that adcoms do look upon certain activities as pluses (research, shadowing, volunteering, leadership) and others probably as not so pluses (skateboarding, chess, pr0n star), leaving premeds playing the sad but inevitable cookie cutter game. People may claim they did do what they wanted and still got in; it is likely that their activities happened to coincide with those sought by adcoms. I get the feeling that it would be more helpful to these posters to give them the specific tips that they are probably seeking rather than generic advice that can be easily found online. Just thoughts.
Like I said, you have freedom in what you can do to some extent. I didn't suggest anyone go out and be a porn star, as you have suggested. My advice was not generic, it was from my personal experience. I'm sorry that you cannot respect my genuine opinion...and I'm sorry that I'm not "playing the game" and saying what people want to hear. I believe being honest about things is the best way to go. Thanks for your comments!
 

Shredder

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TheProwler said:
So maybe you should take the helm and make it worthwhile and highly efficient? :rolleyes:
This is the obvious response, but in reality it is not so simple :rolleyes:. In the real world a leader is able to hire and fire employees as needed; has anyone heard of this in student clubs? No--doing so would instantly result in silly labeling as a dictator, even if it is for the best. It is rare for the most adept officers to be elected in a club; as in high school student council days, elections are contests for recognition and popularity, not ability. Officers positions are created by the handful to give more students the opportunity to obtain "leadership" experience and involvement but without regard for organizational efficiency, leading to a bureacratic mess. Members have no concern for anything that happens, as they can always stay on board for eventual officership or drop the club and join another without any income or relocation at stake.

Oh, and I meant leadership as a whole. It is impossible to run a great operation alone, especially as a student.
 
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capone2975

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Anyone have any recommendations on the best way to approach doc's to do the shadowing?

Also, is it possible to get into research without any experience? I am 30 and need to do pre-req's so maybe I can approach professors at the school I am attending????
 
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capone2975

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Anyone have any recommendations on the best way to approach doc's to do the shadowing?

Also, is it possible to get into research without any experience? I am 30 and need to do pre-req's so maybe I can approach professors at the school I am attending????

Thanks for all the info!!!!!
 

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capone2975 said:
Anyone have any recommendations on the best way to approach doc's to do the shadowing?

Also, is it possible to get into research without any experience? I am 30 and need to do pre-req's so maybe I can approach professors at the school I am attending????
When I did shadowing, I contacted my allergist to see if I could shadow him and if he knew people in other fields that I was interested in so that I could have someone to contact. Another way to approach that is that if you know someone that is seeing a doctor in a specialty that you would like to shadow, ask him/her for their doctor's name and phone number and when you call, explain how you know his/her patient and that you would be interested in shadowing.

For research, I was able to get accepted into a program for this summer without any experience. Since I go to a smaller school that does not focus on research, I had to look elsewhere for the opportunities. I went online and looked through the websites of schools that I would be interested in applying to and searched for summer research opportunities. However, the deadlines for these all have passed already, so that wouldn't help for the summer. You could contact professors at your school, but if you haven't done the pre-reqs yet, it would be hard to secure a research position. Once you take more classes, it would be easier to find one.

Good luck with your searches!
 

QofQuimica

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capone2975 said:
Anyone have any recommendations on the best way to approach doc's to do the shadowing?

Also, is it possible to get into research without any experience? I am 30 and need to do pre-req's so maybe I can approach professors at the school I am attending????

Thanks for all the info!!!!!
Yes, if you are willing to work as a volunteer and spend some time doing the scut work, you can do research without experience. The only thing that people really need to do research is a good attitude; the rest you can learn once you get there.
 

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trouta said:
I would say shadowing is a must. I had a school reject me purely on the basis of "not enough shadowing" (or that is what they told me). Their rationale was that an applicant needs to show an active interest.

That being said, other schools still accepted me.
I had no shadowing and got in. I just had clinical experience. To me, prolonged clinical experience is more important than following someone around for a day.
 

Aladdin Sane

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do something that you like and be dedicated to it, hopefully you did that in college like writing for a newspaper, model UN or whatever. people that hop from one EC to the next or are members of 50 different things always raise the red flag. try to set yourself apart from your typical type A pre med that shadows or whatever because honestly, shadowing a doctor to me would mean less to adcom and that they would be more impressed with someone who did the peace corps than someone who just shadowed, IMHO.
 

liverotcod

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Shredder said:
This is the obvious response, but in reality it is not so simple :rolleyes:. In the real world a leader is able to hire and fire employees as needed; has anyone heard of this in student clubs? No--doing so would instantly result in silly labeling as a dictator, even if it is for the best. It is rare for the most adept officers to be elected in a club; as in high school student council days, elections are contests for recognition and popularity, not ability. Officers positions are created by the handful to give more students the opportunity to obtain "leadership" experience and involvement but without regard for organizational efficiency, leading to a bureacratic mess. Members have no concern for anything that happens, as they can always stay on board for eventual officership or drop the club and join another without any income or relocation at stake.
Actually, in my experience the real world is almost indistinguishable from this. Don't you read Dilbert?
 

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I had very good stats and a background that would look good on a marketing brochure. (Career changer, with some cool-sounding engineering experience.)

I did not have any shadowing or research experience. I did volunteer at a hospital (candy striper, essentially) and my non-medical ECs were pretty good.

Several interviewers seemed disappointed that I hadn't done any shadowing, and I was waitlisted or rejected at those schools. No one seemed to care about my lack of research during interviews, and I was admitted to Wash U and Pitt, both fairly research-heavy schools, anyway. (Of course, my stats presumably helped me out there.) However, I didn't get interviews from Duke, Mayo, or Harvard, and I assume not having research experience was at least partially responsible.

If I were doing it again, I'd definitely try to shadow, since I do think I'd have gotten useful information out of it, as well as probably an edge in the admissions game. I wish I'd done research in college so that I'd have more of an idea of whether I want to do much research in my career, but I don't think I'd have ended up with a significantly different range of options at this point.
 

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liverotcod said:
Actually, in my experience the real world is almost indistinguishable from this. Don't you read Dilbert?
No, it's just easier to whine about it.
 

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Everyone has pretty much the same activities. I would say that you should do something different but still do a little volunteering and research.

I wrote for and then edited my school newspaper during undergrad. Although not science or medicine related, I think it's the kind of thing that can set me apart. A school newspaper certainly shows commitment (because you aren't paid), the ability to get along with many different personalities (and gigantic egos), and the ability to pull ridiculous hours week after week.

Oh, and Shredder, it's also the one campus club where you can fire people. As an editor, I fired a girl for plagiarism (it's pretty obvious when thousands of people read what you write, duh). Of course, this plagiarist is now getting her D.O. for what it's worth. :laugh:
 

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Definitely 'unique' ECs help schools distinguish you from other applicants. I didn't do any shadowing though volunteered in a hospital, so I was considered to have light clinical experience. But I was interested in and worked with student diversity and tolerance at my undergrad institution and that I think helped me out a lot. Shadowing, volunteering, research are all useful and important but do something fun that you enjoy too . . . it will really shine on your application. :laugh:
 

Shredder

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TheProwler said:
No, it's just easier to whine about it.
Concerning this and Dilbert: this is what life is like at the bottom of the corporate ladder. If you plan on ending up here or an analogous position in medicine, I agree with you both and wish you the best. Consider the incessant ousting and replacement of high executives at fortune 500 companies, something you might be aware of if you knew anything about business and kept up with news instead of gleaning life lessons from a comic strip or idealistic notions.