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Why are ECs so important?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Will Ferrell, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. Will Ferrell

    Will Ferrell Senior Member
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    OK, I understand before entering the medical field, you should get some sort of an idea of what it is like. A good few days shadowing and some hospital volunteering should be enough to develop a picture of whether medicine is right for you. If you're truly interested in research, I guess some research experience would be a good. But why do ADCOMs expect us to take have so many of them? Not just the quantity, but the quality. Some want publications and off-shore volunteering or something else amazing. It seems like a juggling contest.

    Is there some sort of correlation between ECs and success as a physician? Is it OK to label people who will be benefitting greatly from these activities as more altruistic people than the applicants who just did well in school, MCATs, experimented w/ a few ECs, and took some time off between? Can someone, who waited to engage in o-chem research until AFTER he took the course, not be cosidered as a potential great scientist because he only had <1 year of research and nothing to show from it by the time of the application cycle? Until coming on SDN I never knew that they expected so much from us. :(
     
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  3. theunderdog

    theunderdog Medical Student (Slave)
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    ok man, med school admissions is harder than you think.

    i think about 36,000 apply every year. only about 16,500 get in. Source-MSAR. That is a little less than 50% acceptance.

    a huge majority of this 36,000 people have good grades (~3.5+) and good MCAT (~30+). But clearly, we can't accept this entire majority.

    we have to distinguish the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the hermaphrodites from the hermaphrodites. how do med schools do this?

    they look at activities (which include experiences and make up your Personal Statement) and they look at your recommendations.

    here, this is where a lot of people fail. all it takes is one recommender to write something bad and you are out. a huge majority of the bigger majority dont have the breadth of activities or enough clinical experiences/volunteer.

    survivors of that round come out and those are the dudes that get interviewed.

    then, we need to see who is antisocial and weird. those dudes get filtered out at the interviews.

    then the acceptances go out.
     
  4. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    I think it really depends... I personally DESPISE people who just randomly do all the ECs they can because they will look good on their profiles.

    Personally, I have quality research (name in paper published) + volunteering (3 years), but 0 clinical experience. I know that during interviews that they'll hammer me about this, but I am well prepared to give good answers as to why I did not go out and experience clinical things.

    My $.02 is - do something that you think is truly right for you and that you think you'll need. Ask yourself if you're being honest with yourself. Don't just go out to do EC things so that you'll have something to write in your app. But of course at the same time, you can't have 0 ECs and expect them to love you. And yes, it's definetly quality vs quantity.
     
  5. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    My feeling is that some of the things that medical schools are looking for from you (besides motivation for medicine and desire to serve others) are passion and intellectual curiousity. You don't have to do EVERYTHING to successfully apply to medical school, even to the top schools in the nation. But you do need to deeply care about your activities; they should be personally important to you. If they aren't, don't do them. If you're going through the motions with your ECs, then you're doing the wrong ones, no matter how much you think they might impress an adcom. So change your perspective, and do something else that you ARE passionate about. You don't need zillions of ECs; one or two good ones that you love are enough. One of my "passions" is research, so I've done a lot of it. Another is teaching, and likewise, I have a lot of experience with it. But I've never done any off-shore volunteering, trained to be an EMT, played in a symphony orchestra, competed as a professional athlete, or some of these other amazing ECs you hear about some people having.
     
  6. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    It would be tough to correlate any specific EC to success as a physician, although it seems likely to me that someone with an impressive past will have an impressive future. Adcoms now certainly seem to be operating under the view that applicants who have distinguished themselves outside of the classroom as well as in will make better doctors than those who are more one dimensional and only get solid (and in some cases higher) numerical stats. Similarly the move from exclusively accepting science students and traditional age students suggests that admissions folk were not satisfied with the doctors produced under the earlier model, and so have been gradually tweaking it by expecting other things and more willingly embracing other backgrounds.
    Also, as numerical stats go up each year and schools are looking for ways to distinguish amongst the pool of applicants, it's helpful to adcoms if some set themselves apart from the pack with various things. And the fact that clinical experience, some research etc. are so common amongst applicants, they have basically become prerequisites at a lot of places; this means that to distinguish yourself you now really have to do all thus PLUS ________.
     
  7. somewhere2010

    somewhere2010 SDN Donor
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    i think you hit the nail on the head, Q! it's not that they think being a musician or athlete will necessarily directly make you a better physician, but rather that it demonstrates passion, drive, dedication - qualities that will make you an excellent physician!
     
  8. CTSballer11

    CTSballer11 Senior Member
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    In have said a few times on sdn. It is all BS man. People do Ec's to keep up with the pack. I would not do research or volunteering, etc, if med schools only looked at GPA and MCAT. I think all this EC crap is stupid and they shoold take the people with the best numbers. 20 yrs ago that is how med schools worked and it seems like they were able to produce good doctors.
     
  9. jon stewart

    jon stewart Senior Member
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    thats how it still works in some other countires!
     
  10. prana_md

    prana_md springing
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    I disagree*. I've been volunteering at a clinic for over two years, and I have definitely experienced an evolution of attitude regarding medicine. You get a feeling for the ups and downs of the profession. There are days when I really don't want to be there, and other days when I'm "on" and couldn't imagine doing anything else. And you pick up so much by osmosis ... you never know what you'll use three or four years down the road when you're on your clinical rotations. I think it's important to find a "hands on" experience and stick with it.

    *my 0.02 ;)
     
  11. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    One problem with your idea is that there are an awful lot of applicants who have both stellar academic records AND amazing ECs. Another is that people who just go through the motions are the ones who will burn out when the going gets impossibly tough, as it will in residency if not in medical school. There is a great thread in the general residency forum: If you could do it over, would you? Every pre-med in here ought to read that thread. Take a real look at the people who are miserable and hating their lives as residents, versus the ones who concede that there are tough times, but that overall they are glad they went into medicine.
     
  12. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Clearly the powers that be don't agree -- there have been a ton of changes since 20 years ago, ranging from acceptance of non-science majors, acceptance of nontraditionals, more emphasis placed on essays and interviews, as well as requirements of more significant ECs, on top of fairly high scores. Schools wouldn't make these changes if they didn't see some virtue in it -- its really much much easier for them to simply take the highest stat individuals they can get. Thus there is some notion that the additional work the adcoms are doing adds some value to their programs. Thus while sure, the doctors produced 20 years ago were good, there must have been some sentiment that things needed to be changed in the fairly significant directions it did to make them better, perhaps some shortcoming of the prior generations of physicians that needed to be addressed. If anyone has any citations to articles indicating why this kind of process revision was made, I would be curious to read it.
     
  13. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Because there are so many good applicants out there, they can just keep raising the bar, and we'll keep jumping.
     
  14. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    I know this post is "politicall incorrect", but I agree with it 100%. I think all this EC stuff is a big joke. Do the adcoms really believe that you can tell who's more compassionate or altruistic by the kind of ECs they did? Most applicants are doing it because they have to, not out of the goodness of their hearts. It's like how real estate prices in California have blow up way out of proportion. Some guy decided way back in the day to start doing some hospital volunteering, and next year everyone had to do that, plus one better. It's one-upsmanship, pure and simple.

    Maybe it's my Asian background, but the American education system's general obsession with ECs (whether applying to college or med school) is very odd and foreign to me. In Asian countries no one cares about ECs. To get into college in Taiwan, you take ONE exam, whose score will determine your fate. No personal statements, no LORs, just your brain vs. everyone else's.

    However, perhaps ECs are just a necessary evil. As we all know, there are bucketfull of applicants with awesome stats, and the adcoms have to distinguish amongst them somehow. I believe some unfortunate soul who interviewed at UCSD once got asked, "We could fill our class entirely with 4.0 students if we wanted to. Why should we take you?" That said, I don't believe that the 3.2/28M student who innoculated babies in Africa or helped draft the healthcare agenda of the European Union should be accepted over a student with higher stats but less impressive ECs. It's great that you're motivated, but a certain degree of innate academic ability cannot be substituted by all the ECs in the world.

    Ah, I apologise if I sound bitter, I'm one of those high stats/low EC people who got shafted (can ya tell?). But seriously, I think they expect too much from us. "No, I didn't build any orphanages in India, I was too busy studying!" Are they encouraging us to study less in college, and instead devote more time to ECs? That just doesn't sound right to me. My priority in college was always to spend as much time as I needed to secure the best academic performance I could, and then if and only if I had time left over would I indulge in ECs. That's why they're extracurricular. However, adcoms seem to be saying that you should only work just hard enough to maintain a ~3.7GPA and spend the rest of your time curing cancer. Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't make sense.
     
  15. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I don't think they are looking for altruism or compassion -- they are looking for well roundedness and people and communication skills -- things you can only develop outside of the library.
    At one of my interviews an interviewer actually cast aspersions on those 4.0/40 types who lived in the library and got great numerical stats but really didn't do a good job at developing their people and other communication skills. I think it's pretty clear that adcoms are looking for doctors who also know how to be people, and relate to people. Hence the ECs, interviews etc. loom large.
     
  16. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    Yes, that's definetly true, but just because you have a bunch of ECs doesn't mean you have those skills either. Just 3-4 GOOD ECs showing your drive and well-roundedness I think should be good enough but I'm not in the ADCOM so don't take my word for it - that's just how I feel. There's plenty of people who just do ECs without even knowing why (just to make your resume look good? - come on!).
     
  17. NapeSpikes

    NapeSpikes Believe, hon.
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    It seems like the ones who study all the time and do almost nothing else are the ones up in arms about the importance that adcoms place on ECs. I think you're thinking about ECs all wrong if it's just a matter of jumping through the hoops for you. As Q :love: mentioned, some people actually just do the activities we enjoy, and then list them as ECs, almost in hindsight. In doing so, I think the adcoms see our pursuing medicine in a similar fashion--we're just pursuing what we like, rather than jumping through hoops, neither for admissions purposes nor societal pressures.
     
  18. chandelantern

    chandelantern MSI at Mayo in August!
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    Spending all your time studying to get good grades is not what it takes to be a physician. PhD, maybe. It sounds like to me, from you post, that you want to be a doctor because of the prestige, not because of the day to day life a doctor has to live. It has to be in your heart, and adcoms will be skeptical if you come in with stellar stats and no evidence you have any idea what a doctor really does or have demonstrated your passion to help people (as cliche as it sounds.) Humanitarianism is really important in the present and future of American medicine. My hunch is that your attitude is not what they are looking for. Med schools are making a huge investment in the applicants they select, yes, they have to be intelligent enough to be able to handle the med school curriculum and use that knowledge in real life later, but they also have to have good communication and people skills (as mentioned before), passion and compassion (yes, I do argue that adcoms CAN evaluate this from your PS, your LOR, and your ECs), and humility. Also, not everyone knows right from the get-go that they want to do medicine...so now that they realize it after their GPA is floating around the B range means they won't be a good physician in the future? I think not. You have to evalutate numbers in context...just like you said you spent all your time studying so of course you didn't have time for EC's! Other people spend very little time studying, still get stellar grades AND manage to make a difference in the community that they are living in (and mature as a person in doing so.) That is the person I would pick hands down.
     
  19. Will Ferrell

    Will Ferrell Senior Member
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    Thanks for your candid responses. I was feeling down and inferior after hearing about all those other applicants out there who claim they're going to dedicate their lives to curing diseases and feeding the hungry. I'll never be able to say "I'm here to save the world" and I think that's going to set me back despite being a good person with great stats. I have some medically-related ECs, but it seems impossible for me, as an undergrad, to get a realistic view of the profession. I don't want to write a personal statement about how I know what it's going to be like because no one really does. Hiding behind extracurricular activities seems to be the method a lot of people use.

    Maybe I should just lay off SDN. Everyone tries to be politically correct saints here and it doesn't reflect real life. For example, once I was shot down and told I was going to be a terrible and ignorant physician. All I said was that it should be a punishable crime for someone who knowingly has AIDs to have sex with someone without the disease. Maybe I shouldn't have used the words "attempted murder." It's funny how one of them who was bashing my worth then turned around half a year later and changed his outlook in a thread about the felon med student who was doing that.

    I hope it's still possible to be successful in this process without having to be ideal and fake perfection. We all know that no one is. :oops:
     
  20. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I wouldn't take it too much to heart. People get really brave when their identities are hidden. I actually think it's the people and communication skills more than the altruism one needs to succeed - they aren't expecting you to save or change the world, just to actually live in it (as opposed to the library). Only one school I interviewed at specifically wanted non-medical volunteering on one's resume, so I think the "feeding the hungry" requirement is not mandatory for med school.
    As for your attempted murder claim, it's not so far fetched an assertion and one that various prosecutors have made in the past -- see eg. an old Wall St. Journal article http://www.aegis.com/news/wsj/1997/WJ971101.html
     
  21. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    I wouldn't say you have to lay off SDN, just take it with a grain of salt. If these guys really believe and practise what they're preaching here, then awesome, we need good surgeon generals who graduated from HMS. I'm no super duper saint applicant, I didn't have this burning passion for medicine all my life and a grand vision for a better humanity. I admit, the challenge, the intellectual stimulation, and yes, the damn prestige are big draws for me. However, I think I'll still make a fine doctor and have a satisfying career despite not having the "best" reasons for wanting to go into medicine. Besides, I just want to be a regular doctor; we don't all have to graduate from a top 10 school and be on the board of directors.
     
  22. southpaux

    southpaux Member
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    There has certainly been a shift in the way adcoms approach the application process. ECs, recommendations, nontraditional backgrounds now have more influence than they did in the past. However, I disagree that adcoms are simply having us "jump through more hoops" for the sake of tormenting us. In reality, I believe that adcoms have picked up that having a diverse student body with different experiences leads to a more fruitful experience. Moreover, by demonstrating that you are not one-dimensional and purely academic (high numbers, low ECs) is an indication of what type of career in medicine you might lead. The real world after medical school is very different than life as an undergraduate. You are loaded with more responsibility in and out of your professional life. If a person was able to handle ECs as an undergraduate on top of academics, then they will better adjust to a life as physican AND raising a family, managing finances, doing research, etc. These types of doctors tend to be the leaders in the field because they have a history of going above and beyond what was required of them. Therefore, it makes sense for adcoms to take ECs and recommendations heavily into account because they have seen students come and go and develop, whereas we have a very narrow idea of what is considered in picking a student body.
     
  23. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    REALLY well put, thanks.
     
  24. CTSballer11

    CTSballer11 Senior Member
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    That is a good point. I still believe that we have to do EC's becuase the next guy is doing it. That is why most people do EC"s, including me. There are EC's that I truly enjoy doing and those are the EC's that take up most of my time.

    will ferell, i agree with you that it is murder. I think someone mentioned before me that many prosecuters have tried to use that logic. Not to sure how it worked out though. Do not let people tell you that you will be a bad physician becuase you are not going to save the world. Have realistic expectations of the medical world and the contributions you can make and you should be fine.
     
  25. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I'm not so sure that's why "most" people do ECs. Probably many, but I wouldn't assume most. Some of us logged a lot of ECs of sorts even before we knew for sure that we were premed.
     
  26. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    The thing about EC's is that they are predominantly based upon getting good opportunities.

    I don't have the opportunity to go to Africa and camp in a village for 3 months so I do what I can in my city. My accomplishments will be dwarfed by the one-up-manship no doubt.
     
  27. KevinZ

    KevinZ Senior Member
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    Numbers are not entirely reflective of your ability to become a great doctor.

    A good GPA/MCAT tells you the following:
    1) Ability to think on feet
    2) Ability to learn medical material and withstand medical school

    A good GPA/MCAT does NOT tell you the following:
    1) Whether you'll stay a little longer to talk to a patient who needs extra assistance.
    2) Whether you can communicate to people of different backgrounds, whether race, socioeconomic, cultural, or age differences.
    3) Whether you've shown a commitment that you're passionate about medicine, discovery, or altruism.
    4) Whether you can earn the trust and respect of those around you.

    Take the movie Patch Adams as an example. Compare Patch and his roommate. Both brilliant students (Patch's roommate is argubly more book smart), but it's Patch that is able to connect with patients and families. Those abilities are reflected in his experiences.

    As pre-meds, I'm sure you all know some gunners who spend day and night in the library and can't hold a conversation. If you were a patient, would you sacrifice 1-2 points on your doctor's MCAT if s/he is is more effective at communicating your health care situation and the treatment you need, talks you through the process at the end, and possesses a better grasp of your cultural/spiritual/political beliefs? I would.
     
  28. KevinZ

    KevinZ Senior Member
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    I want to answer this because I'm Asian as well. You're completely right that academics are essentially the only factor in success. However, I also can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am that the US system weighs extracurriculars and life experiences into the balance. I say that because it recruits the best students.

    1) If two students both achieve a 3.7, but one does a tremendous amount of volunteer work, then the one doing volunteer work probably has more potential or drive to succeed.
    2) Volunteering and giving back are really important attributes, for nearly all professions, in my opinion. Volunteering is a way of giving back to those not as fortunate as us. That, in a sense, is a lot of what medicine is about. It's not just spending the minimum 15 minutes with a patient--it's about happily working a little extra each day and working through hardships with a smile so you can be a better doctor to each of your patients.

    I think all of you are really making too big a deal out of this "I need to go to Africa" in order for my EC to standout. Do something you care about, that helps others, and it'll be great. I never left my city during volunteer work, but my interviewer at Hopkins spent 30 minutes discussing my observations when I worked and volunteered at the local hospital. I know my numbers blend-in pretty well with the Hopkins folk, so it must have been the 2-3 leadership roles in student organizations and clinical experiences that made the difference in getting accepted.
     
  29. Shredder

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    artificial way to weed people out. numbers are everything, medicine is an academic field unlike business. interpersonal skills take a back seat to proficiency and knowledge. emphasis on ECs is a result of US egalitarianism
     
  30. thegenius

    thegenius Senior Wharf Rat
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    Well roundeness and communication skills are qualities ADCOMs want, but more specifically medical ECs show that you have been exposed to medicine and have practical experience in the medical field. There are some candidates who excitedly go into the emergency room to volunteer and leave soon after because they couldn't stand what they saw.

    In addition, EC's show initiative and desire beyond accomplishing and succeeding with the the standard medical school requirements.

    I do agree, in spirit, to some of what messercshcmitdstststs wrote. But there is legitimacy to seeing that applicants have some sort of real-world experience. I would expect this from law students, engineering, architects, etc. It helps distinguish those who want X and those who REALLY REALLY want X.
     
  31. NapeSpikes

    NapeSpikes Believe, hon.
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    :laugh: Your consistency is endearing, though I'd wager that the shortsightedness is a result of youth and privilege.
     
  32. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    No, actually, to put it into Trump-like business terms for you, medicine, like law, sales, etc. is largely a (customer) service industry. The best personnel to recruit for such an industry are the smartest you can find with the requisite people skills, leadership and communication skills. The prerequisite knowledge base (in terms of sciences) required for the career path is much higher, but the function is still largely ultimately to deal with consumers (patients) and other service providers (other health professionals), and provide a requested service for compensation.
    How's that. :)
     
  33. thegymbum

    thegymbum Senior Member
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    In my opinion, one aspect of it is that they want to make sure that you are indeed able to take on a lot without cracking under pressure. Medical school isn't a piece of cake, and just because someone made it through college with a solid gpa and did well on the mcat, they could have spent all their time hiding behind a book.. in which case, they might not be able to handle all the pressures yet to come. But if they see you've been really committed to the profession, and really spending a lot of time doing more than just studying but still keeping the numbers high, there's a much better chance you'll excel in the future ;)
     
  34. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    In response to this poster (and many others') cricitism of my views:

    1.) I agree, the student who is able to do both is obvious the more powerful, driven applicant with greater potential. However, very few people are able to excel in both. Moreover, what I was saying was that it appears given two applicants, one with higher stats and the other with more impressive ECs, the latter will tend to get in.

    2.) There seems to be some misunderstanding of my position. I am not so ignorant or naive as to not believe or factor in the importance of compassion, drive, leadership, and interpersonal skills in the practise of medicine. These traits are paramount. What I am saying is that in my humble opinion, ECs are a poor indicator for measuring those abstract qualities. It feels like a phony way of assessing these qualities, as it creates an atmosphere of one-upsmanship and "EC-inflation" (?). However, I accept that they may be the only method available, a necessary evil.
     
  35. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    EC's may not be a great way to measure abstract qualities like interpersonal skills, but they come a whole lot closer than an MCAT score. At least with the former you need to have interaction with people on some level. High scoring folks sometimes do so by avoiding human contact and holing up in the library. As for whether someone with better ECs will beat someone with better grades, that's usually only true if both are above a certain threshold. Meaning someone with a 3.6/31 and great ECs will often beat someone with a 3.8/33 and none. But someone with a 3.2/29 usually won't no matter what the ECs are.
     
  36. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
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    Shredder, I know you're a downright brilliant student, but I have to say that sometimes when I read your postings I get shivers thinking of you being alone in a room with a sick and vulnerable patient.

    Medicine is not just a science-- yeah, being able to make a diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment is important, but just as important, perhaps even more so is the ability to be human. You're going to fail a lot Shredder, just like the rest of us, because medicine is not perfect and it fails on a very frequent basis. What are you going to say to a patient who has a terminally ill disease; how are you going to tell a parent that their child is going to die no matter what you do?

    I don't know if you've ever been on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship, but I can tell you from a patient's perspective that humanistic qualities like compassion and a sense of humor go a long way. Patch Adams talks a lot about developing a love and friendship with your patients, learning to care for them and embrace them because they are human beings with worth.

    Personally, I feel that I am in the stage where I really need to decide on what kind of doctor I want to be. I do this by trying to look through the patient's eyes as much as I can. I try to ask myself, "If I was sick and weak and vulnerable, what could this person do to make me better?" I want to be the sappy doctor who plays with his patients in the waiting room, who stops to listen to their problems when they need someone to talk to, who sits around and jokes with them during their free time. I want to develope bonds with my patients; friendships. I'm not saying I'm going to invite them over for dinner every Thursday night, but I am saying that I want to gain their trust and respect because they know that I really do care about them and will do everything I can to help them.

    You're right in saying that medicine is not a business, but you're wrong in saying that the ability to relate to other people is less relevant in the field of healthcare. If anything it is more relevant here than anywhere else.

    God, Shredder, please re-evaluate whether or not this is the right field for you. Because if it's not, if you don't want to go into medicine to help people, then I think that there is a high chance that you are going to end up miserable along with your patients.
     
  37. Will Ferrell

    Will Ferrell Senior Member
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    I have a different take. I would personally want a physician like Shredder, because he would be the most honest and direct - he'll have my trust. For example, a week before the april mcats someone in the mcat forum was asking if his 20 on 3R was bad and whether they should take the mcat. Instead of saying encouraging BS, he was the the first one to say it was horrible (lol, there may have been a better word) and not to bother taking the test since he was clearly not ready. Some may think that's being a schmuck, but that was the cold truth and he may have saved the kid from making the mistake of taking the test at that point.

    As a patient, I would believe everything he said since he has the most realistic view of life. Also, he's extremely competent and he'll know what's best - he'll have my respect.
     
  38. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Then again, LizzyM, who's actually on an adcom, tends to see trips to Africa as "I used my daddy's money because I don't have to work." I don't mean to misinterpret what she said, but she was pretty clear that trips abroad are often a mark of privilege. I'd say most of my EC's were self-acquired. I looked around for research labs to join, I applied for lots of scholarships, I took an EMT course after I found a company to sponsor me, and I pursued volunteer opportunities that interested me. I think you can have a good resume regardless of who you are. It *helps* to know people in high places, but it's not required at all.
     
  39. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I think this is huge. Lots of schools want to be recognized for the people they've turned out - people who do research or ground-breaking medical/surgical techniques or processes. They want to try to find people who will do that.
     
  40. Law2Doc

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    I think he's going to need to change his approach a bit. It's one thing to tell someone that they did horribly on the MCAT without sugar coating it. It's another to tell them they have a horrible prognosis and perhaps 6 months to live. There are some things in medicine that people don't want to hear in a "matter of fact" that's the way it is tone.
    (Donald Trump, who he seems to idolize is actually a pretty good people person. He's pompous and self-agrandizing, but certainly knows how to shoot the breeze, shmooze a client, etc.)
     
  41. somewhere2010

    somewhere2010 SDN Donor
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    i agree with you...that's a perfectly valid way of practicing medicine, and i think it works very well for some patients. my impression is that there was a greater need for a variety of personalities in the profession, as many people will not respond effectively to the previously-mentioned approach to practicing medicine. perhaps in seeking out individuals who seem to be "more personable" - as assessed by non-academic attributes suggested by ECs, personal statement, and LORs - yet still academically competent, the powers that be hope to provide quality health care for people with varying needs (some patients just want you to hold their hand, and i think that that really is a part of caring for the patient).

    individuals with amazing numbers, not-so-great ECs, and any social skills will continue to gain acceptance to medical school, and they certainly deserve to and will become fine physicians. it doesn't have to be so "this or that"...different types of people can and will co-exist in the medical community!
     
  42. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Hear, hear! Well said, somewhere2010. My ECs are "not-so-great" and lacks impressive organisation affiliations, but it doesn't mean I lived in the library for 4 years. I guess we'll all co-exist and practise different styles of medicine.

    I'm actually for the sappy, empathic style (you may be surprised from my previous posts), I just feel that a lot of "name-dropping" type of ECs do not demonstrate any abilities in that. I'm very surprised that a previous poster said "Africa trips" are seen as a sign of wealth and "spoiledness" by the adcoms, I sincerely hope that's true. That's another big problem with using the "impressiveness" (a very subjective and abstract quality) of ECs to judge an applicant's prowess. Many of it is connexion-dependent. It's a lot easier to get a research position in the NIH if mommy or daddy (don't want to be sexist ;) ) is already working there.
     
  43. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    Actually, Law & Order had an episode on this exact topic.
     
  44. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    Where do you get these conclusions from? The vast majority of what you learn in college will be of no use to you in medical school. The two systems are very different. Good grades also do not indicate that someone can "think on his feet." Unless you do math or engineering, most of undergrad is based upon regurgitating information. Further, "withstand medical school" makes it sound like it all some horrible event. Yes, many of my classmates have experienced depression at one point during that the past semester, yet there are many factors that contribute to your happiness in school---mainly, your own perception of it.

    Finally, our number 1 student right now openly says that the only reason she got accepted is because of her minority status. She actually didn't do too well in college or on the MCAT, yet she's now kicking all of our asses.
     
  45. robotsonic

    robotsonic Senior Member
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    Silas, I feel sad reading your post, because it reminds me of myself four years ago, before I started med school. I had so many grand ideas about compassion and empathy and being a good doctor. Now I'm a lot more realistic. Medical school changed me, as I think it changes most people (judging by talking with others in my year). Slowly my view of patients changed, and I don't think I will ever be able to go back to the naive view I had before med school. I think the more idealistic you are starting out, the worse it is for you. Good luck, and don't be too hard on yourself when you realize that being a good doctor isn't quite what you thought. In the end, I think idealism will win out for both of us, but the transition from idealism to realism and back to idealism is tough.

    Now about the ECs: I've said this before, but people who do ECs just to pad their applications really annoy me. Do the ECs that matter to you! You don't need to do a ton - trust me, it will be obvious that you just did it so you could put it in your application. When I chose which volunteer activities and jobs I would do during undergrad, I didn't base my decisions on what would look good, I based them on what I wanted to get out of the activities! In the end, I had a ton of volunteer work in a few areas that I cared about, and adcoms liked that, but I certainly didn't do it for them. And yes, being able to do things outside of studying and still manage to get the great GPA and MCAT score shows that you will be able to handle the busy lifestyle of a resident and physician. It also shows that you are an interesting person.
     
  46. robotsonic

    robotsonic Senior Member
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    Wow, I don't know where you went to undergrad, but my undergrad experience was nothing like that! Medical school is actually a lot more of regurgitating information than anything I studied in undergrad. I didn't do math or engineering, but I used to analyze, write essays, and ponder various theories. Even orgo was fun because a lot of it felt like solving logic puzzles, not regurgitating information. Medical school, on the other hand, depends on memorizing a ton of stuff and then being able to quickly recall the information. For a good part of it, you don't have to think, you just have to memorize. Remember that quote: "Medical school is like crossing a river that is a mile long, but only an inch deep."
     
  47. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Plus, the river is full of bodily fluids and you don't got no shoes... :eek:
     
  48. Gavanshir

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    It's all about leadership. Having the quality of leadership says a lot about you.
     
  49. p00psicleSTICK

    p00psicleSTICK cat's in the cradle
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    I totally agree with you. That's exactly how I think.
     
  50. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    Let me address some of the cynicism on this board toward EC's. While there are some people that join EC's just because they want to enhance their applications, a lot of people actually get a lot out of being in a club that allows them to be around others with similar interests. When choosing a group, go with something that fits your personality. You don't have to go to Africa or feed the homeless on Thanksgiving or even push wheelchairs in a hospital if you don't want to. Just pick something that gives you a chance to see the world outside of a classroom.

    Second, to the people that think that grades is everything: do you really think that there is a difference between someone with a 3.7 and a 3.9 GPA? One poster mentioned that the applicants admitted over 20 years ago based on their stats turned into great physicians. I would disagree. I've met plenty of docs with stellar academic records who can't diagnose their way out of a paper bag simply because they can't talk to their patients and get a full history.

    My school requires us to shadow a primary care physician so that we can practice physical exams. I've watched my preceptor miss important information on several occasions all because he wanted to run through a list of symptoms, but couldn't manage to ask the patient, "How do you feel?"
     
  51. Shredder

    Shredder User
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    yeah, i never deny these things. very possible my outlook will change over time. but as of now i just tell things the way i see them. ive lived a pretty easy and privileged life, so thats the context for my posts

    law2doc ive been reading some grisham, just finished king of torts. whats your take? i thought youd be the most appropriate one to ask, the jaded lawyer as is typical of grisham books

    to me the best example of numbers being everything is IIT in india which churns out the best engineers that fuel the IT industry. but then people say medicine requires more ppl skills and well roundedness than IT, and things get muddled. id still prefer a rude, brilliant doc. i dont care about how multifaceted he is, only about his demonstrated proficiency in medicine
     

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