In the final section of our Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success series, we’ll discuss how reapplicants should improve, and then present, their experiences.
One last factor that can seriously hurt your chances is a lack of substantive, ongoing experiences.
Medical schools want students who are passionate and committed – to the world around them as well as to medicine. The AAMC says,
“Most volunteer experiences are valuable and will provide you with well-rounded experiences. Just make sure you have at least one solid health care-related experience, in addition to your non-medical volunteer work, so that your experiences speak to your commitment to medicine.”
It’s hard to convince an admissions committee that you want to pursue a medical career if you haven’t spent time in a clinical environment. Shadowing can give you a peek into that world, and it is a wonderful way to learn about the different specialties. But to demonstrate the kind of ongoing, substantive involvement that will make an impact, you’ll need to go further.
If you’ve identified your clinical exposure as a problem area, the American Medical Student Association’s Pre-medical Access to Clinical Experience (PACE) guide is a valuable starting point.
• Volunteer at your local hospital or free clinic. Some positions won’t offer much patient contact, but some involve providing patients with pre-exam instructions, entertaining sick children, and escorting patients to various areas. Areas like Surgical Recovery Units and Emergency Departments often allow chances for patient interaction. See what’s on offer.
• Work as a Certified Nursing Assistant with a nursing home or home care program. Training takes 6-12 weeks, after which you can help in patient support roles.
• Train and work as an Emergency Medical Technician on campus or in your community.
• Join the staff at a summer camp for children with disabilities or chronic illness. Listings like Summer Camp Staff can put you in touch.
• Intern or volunteer with your county health department. Many opportunities will put you in touch with physicians and public health experts, as well as affected populations.
• See if your hospital offers a Hospital Elder Life Program. They’re often seeking volunteers to work with their elderly patients, as are hospices and nursing homes.
Gaining substantive, ongoing clinical experience can be challenging, since anything significant requires a medical license. And like improving your GPA, this isn’t something that you can fix quickly. Hopefully any volunteer activities begun before your last application are ongoing – in that case, you’re in good shape to reapply with a stronger application. But it’s important not to rush this step – reapplying before you’ve had time to develop solid experiences in this area could lead you right back to the start.
As you prepare for your reapplication, try to stay optimistic. What you’ve been through hasn’t been easy, but it should have been a learning experience. Now wiser and more qualified, you stand a much better chance at getting into medical school.
Thanks for joining us on our adventure through the med school reapplication process. If you want to improve your chances even more, take advantage of Accepted’s application review service to get a tailored assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
By Cydney Foote, Accepted consultant and author of Write Your Way to Medical School, who has helped future physicians craft winning applications since 2001. Want Cyd to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!