Med schools aren’t just looking for science geeks who’ve never stepped outside the lab. They’re looking for students who will not just succeed in the classroom, but who have also had rich and varied experiences that will make them stand out as an interesting and passionate individual and future doctor.
It’s not that test scores and other competency-based measures aren’t important, but they don’t present the full picture and med school admissions committees know that.
Below are 5 reasons why you should volunteer:
1. Volunteering in a healthcare setting demonstrates that you understand what you’re getting yourself into.
Med schools are more likely to accept students that have proven that they’re ready for a life in medicine.
2. Volunteering proves commitment.
A long-term commitment will demonstrate to the adcom that you’re the type of person who knows how to commit. You’ll stick through the thick and thin of med school, and you’ll work as a medical professional without throwing in the towel.
3. Volunteering shows that you’ve got a heart.
Book smarts are important, but you could have all the book smarts in the world and be an awful, selfish monster. Med schools want students who are looking to help people and serve others. Volunteering highlights those qualities in you.
4. Volunteering helps boost your leadership skills.
Good doctors are good leaders. A volunteer stint in which you’ve led a team, made initiatives, and impacted those around you will send a message to the adcom that you’ll be the type of doctor who can lead and push forward in the medical field.
5. Volunteering will expand your horizons.
Don’t just volunteer because it looks good on your application – do it because you value helping others. People who volunteer receive the advantage of working with populations other than their own, whether it be underprivileged members of your own community or people from different cultures in other places of the world. This exposure will open your eyes and enrich your life. (Plus, it does add texture and vitality to an otherwise flat application!)
Volunteering in the healthcare system specifically is important (especially for point #1 above), but it’s not the only form of volunteering that’ll turn heads in the admissions office. You can prove your commitment, show you’ve got a big heart, demonstrate that you have leadership skills, and expand your own horizons with lots of different types of volunteer experiences. The key is to make sure that you can connect your volunteer passions with your passion to be a physician. This is what will make you stand out and what will prove to the adcom that you’re a good person who will also be a good student and an exceptional doctor.