Ursa

woof
5+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2010
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Hey guys,

I am in my freshman year and am just planning ahead and had a few questions on what you would regard as good ECs.

I am going to be volunteering at a hospital in the ER in a few days. I plan to stay there for my full undergrad.

I calculated that I will have around 500 - 800 hours of volunteering and most likely a leadership position by that time.

I also want to shadow a variety of physicians soon. Do you think that it is unnecessary to shadow for a lot hours (i.e. 300 - 400 hours)

I am also planning to take part in an executive position in a university organization called the Biology & Chemistry Student Association. I will be the technical guy who will take care of the website, make sure emails are sent out to other club members about upcoming events. Since I will be an executive I will also have to be a part of the many meeting and events that the BCSA decides to put on. This will hopefully also go on until I finish my undergrad.

I will probably also tutor for a little bit in between classes sometime in the next year.

So while I may not have a lot of ECs, I think I have quality in some aspects. Can you guys tell me what I am missing or if I made any poor choices picking out my ECs.

Thanks,
Lunasly.
Sounds like a good list to me. The hours of shadowing doesn't have to be as high as you've calculated, but a solid amount with some variety should suffice. Remember that, while EC's are important, it would be more beneficial to have less hours volunteering/shadowing if it means having a higher GPA.

Consistency is what they like, so a few EC's that last 4 years will be more appreciated than a whole lot in the couple of months before you apply. Make sure you include some non-medical activities/volunteering as well.
 

mattng

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Sep 15, 2007
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I agree Ursa. I would shadow long enough for you to be able to get a strong LoR from the physician(s). Leadership in anything you do is a plus.
 
Nov 8, 2010
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Get involved in undergraduate research. To me this is more significant compared to long hours of volunteering (I mean volunteering is a must but publishing a paper or presenting a poster later on is very significant).
 

getright

7+ Year Member
Feb 24, 2010
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300-400 shadowing hours seems to be a bit of an overkill. You're much better off cutting that number to around a 100 (which is still a lot) and completing research instead.
 
Aug 10, 2010
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Looks like a solid plan. I would cut down on the shadowing just a tad as it seems to be over kill slightly. Get enough shadowing hours to have a stable connection with the Physician to get letter of recommendation.

Also another thing... make sure you incorporate some research in your ECs.

Other then that keep on tract with your plan and don't let anything get in the way. :thumbup:
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
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Having 50 shadowing hours is about average. I think you'd be fine aiming for 60-80 hours. More won't hurt, but there is a point of diminishing return.

You might also consider some nonmedical, noncampus, hands-on community service (soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring kids after school, Meals on Wheels, Big Brother, Big Sister, etc.).
 
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Lunasly

Lunasly

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May 17, 2010
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Thanks for the reply, guys!

About shadowing: If anywhere from 60 - 100 hours is a good amount, would that mean I should split it up over say 5 different physicians, shadowing each one for ~20 hours?

Good point I am definitely going to want to do some non-medical community work.

I am sort of at a loss with research. While I am at a university, lab professors are not required to produce publications from there research. Would it still be worth taking the opportunity to research, but not receive a publication because it is not required by the university?
 

IlDestriero

Ether Man
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Nov 24, 2007
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Thanks for the reply, guys!

About shadowing: If anywhere from 60 - 100 hours is a good amount, would that mean I should split it up over say 5 different physicians, shadowing each one for ~20 hours?

Good point I am definitely going to want to do some non-medical community work.

I am sort of at a loss with research. While I am at a university, lab professors are not required to produce publications from there research. Would it still be worth taking the opportunity to research, but not receive a publication because it is not required by the university?
All academic faculty with their own research labs must publish or lose their lab space and/or job (up or out). Find a serious research lab and try to get at least a poster out. You could also do a summer research program at the NIH or some other research powerhouse. I did a summer research fellowship and was able to get a poster and LOR w/ 3 months of hard work. I had Zero interest in working in a lab, or anywhere else, while taking classes.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
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About shadowing: If anywhere from 60 - 100 hours is a good amount, would that mean I should split it up over say 5 different physicians, shadowing each one for ~20 hours?

I am sort of at a loss with research. While I am at a university, lab professors are not required to produce publications from there research. Would it still be worth taking the opportunity to research, but not receive a publication because it is not required by the university?
Splitting the shadowing as you described is fine. Be sure one of the docs is office-based primary care.

Publication isn't essential. Having a research experience is listed by 60% of those applying. Do what you can. IlDestriero has a good idea, though.
 
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Lunasly

Lunasly

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Thanks for the tips, guys.

Regarding Research: I contacted the heads of both the chemistry and biology department and they both said that lab instructors are not required to produce publications from their research. So even if I did something at my university, I would at best get a LOR.

I am from Canada by the way. If I am going to do research it would have to be this upcoming summer. I tried searching around but did not have too much luck. Can someone direct me to some research programs offered in B.C. mainly in the lower mainland?

Thank you,
Lunasly.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
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I contacted the heads of both the chemistry and biology department and they both said that lab instructors are not required to produce publications from their research. So even if I did something at my university, I would at best get a LOR.
You would also be able to list and describe your research activity on the AMCAS application. There are separate categories for Research, Presentations and Posters, and Publications. Filling out any of the three reflects well on you.

For a better audience for your opportunities question, consider posting on the Canadian specific thread that is current: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=774908
 

IlDestriero

Ether Man
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Nov 24, 2007
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Thanks for the tips, guys.

Regarding Research: I contacted the heads of both the chemistry and biology department and they both said that lab instructors are not required to produce publications from their research. So even if I did something at my university, I would at best get a LOR.

I am from Canada by the way. If I am going to do research it would have to be this upcoming summer. I tried searching around but did not have too much luck. Can someone direct me to some research programs offered in B.C. mainly in the lower mainland?

Thank you,
Lunasly.
Hi, I was not referring to your lab instructors or your "teaching labs", but to PhD faculty researchers who run their own research labs. Perhaps your university doesn't have any research scientists? I don't know anything about Canadian schools.
If you have a dept of chemistry, biology, physics, etc that is offering masters or Doctoral degrees, there are research labs somewhere. If your university is affiliated with a hospital, there is medical research going on somewhere.
FYI, many (most?) university hospitals take on summer research students to help facilitate projects. You would have to contact the faculty in charge of research in each individual department. There is probably no central source of info. Call individual departments and ask to speak to/ leave a message for the department research director. He/she can help you find something, if they need a student.
 
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Lunasly

Lunasly

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Hi, I was not referring to your lab instructors or your "teaching labs", but to PhD faculty researchers who run their own research labs. Perhaps your university doesn't have any research scientists? I don't know anything about Canadian schools.
If you have a dept of chemistry, biology, physics, etc that is offering masters or Doctoral degrees, there are research labs somewhere. If your university is affiliated with a hospital, there is medical research going on somewhere.
FYI, many (most?) university hospitals take on summer research students to help facilitate projects. You would have to contact the faculty in charge of research in each individual department. There is probably no central source of info. Call individual departments and ask to speak to/ leave a message for the department research director. He/she can help you find something, if they need a student.
The only hospital university nearby takes 2 hours to commute too and I will be taking classes in the summer so I dont think that would work out. I will perhaps maybe get a lab partner (a senior) and maybe we can have a lab professor be our supervisor?
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
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Jan 1, 2007
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Thanks for the reply, guys!

About shadowing: If anywhere from 60 - 100 hours is a good amount, would that mean I should split it up over say 5 different physicians, shadowing each one for ~20 hours?

Good point I am definitely going to want to do some non-medical community work.

I am sort of at a loss with research. While I am at a university, lab professors are not required to produce publications from there research. Would it still be worth taking the opportunity to research, but not receive a publication because it is not required by the university?
Might I suggest lowering that 100 hrs by quite a bit still and focusing some of that energy into your volunteering and/or get a job. Keep in mind that 20 hrs is a lot of time w/ 1 physician. I'd estimate you won't get much beyond about 8-12 hrs w/ one specialty. The fact is that you're really not going to learn that much from shadowing. You get a small idea of what the daily life of a physician is like but, at least for me, it took less than an hr to pick up 90% of what I got from each physician I shadowed. The rest of the time was interesting of course but the procedures don't take long and most of the time learning occurred in small chunks. I also learned FAR more from actually working on a floor and interacting w/ pts myself. Having RNs mentor me as a "future doc" has been invaluable -- far beyond anything shadowing could have offered.
 
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Lunasly

Lunasly

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Might I suggest lowering that 100 hrs by quite a bit still and focusing some of that energy into your volunteering and/or get a job. Keep in mind that 20 hrs is a lot of time w/ 1 physician. I'd estimate you won't get much beyond about 8-12 hrs w/ one specialty. The fact is that you're really not going to learn that much from shadowing. You get a small idea of what the daily life of a physician is like but, at least for me, it took less than an hr to pick up 90% of what I got from each physician I shadowed. The rest of the time was interesting of course but the procedures don't take long and most of the time learning occurred in small chunks. I also learned FAR more from actually working on a floor and interacting w/ pts myself. Having RNs mentor me as a "future doc" has been invaluable -- far beyond anything shadowing could have offered.
Ah so like 8 hours per specialty should be good enough then.

Thanks for the advice. :)
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
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Ah so like 8 hours per specialty should be good enough then.

Thanks for the advice. :)

I'd say so. I think shadowing 5-10 different physicians for 8 hrs is far better than shadowing 5 for 20 hrs -- not to mention that after 20 hrs w/ you following him, most docs would probably be ready to lock you in the morgue....permanently! (It's not just you -- this is true of ANY premed!)
 
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Lunasly

Lunasly

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Come to think of it that makes perfect sense, haha. Thank you for your insight :)

Now I just have to figure something out for research.