Do medical schools care about extracurriculars? The simple answer is yes - they definitely do.
Although good morals, ethical values, academic achievement, and genuine perseverance to be a doctor are qualifying attributes to get into medical school, you also need to invest time and effort into extracurricular activities. We hate to break this to you, but focusing only on your GAMSAT or UCAT exam score or satisfactory ATAR alone will not be enough to receive an offer at a medical school.
Even though the qualities mentioned above are highly appreciated and considered core requisites, good extracurricular activities are what makes your life experiences stand out to medical school interviewers.
So, how do you make your medical school application stand out?
The main objective of pursuing extracurricular activities for medicine is to demonstrate your skills and qualities beyond your academic achievements. Hence, most medical schools, particularly during medical school interviews, expect you to prove your skills. The only possible way to do so is by depicting your involvement in extracurricular activities, which can complement the skills and attributes mandatory for being a doctor.
Let us take a moment to explore further some of the potential extracurricular activities that can strengthen your medical school application and demonstrate your attributes when invited for a medical interview. We have listed good extracurricular activities for medical school, so go ahead and pick what suits your interest, passion, and personality best!
What Extracurricular Activities Do Medical Schools Look For?
Clinical Experience As An Extracurricular Activity
One of the most obvious reasons for choosing a clinical experience as an extracurricular is to indicate the significance of your medical practice and answer the question, 'Why do you want to be a doctor?' with ease and understanding. In submitting medical school applications, or during medical interviews, clinical experience is a plausible way to portray your passion and determination towards medicine. It’s something that gives you an overall picture of whether the medical career is ideal for you or not, and credibility to answer this question when asked.
During medical interviews, it is crucial to prove that you are committed to pursuing medicine. The best way to provide valid evidence is by elaborating on real-life examples from your clinical experience. This extracurricular activity proves effective as working or volunteering in a clinical ward demonstrates that you have taken essential steps before entering med school. Not only is this important during medical admission, but it is significant for you on a personal level. It will give you a sense of the kinds of environment you will be exposed to and what a physician's life entails. Hence the clinical ward experience with patient exposure shows your seriousness to medical school and a career in medicine in the long run.
Shadowing a doctor or working within healthcare facilities counts as a great extracurricular activity for med school applicants. Usually, it isn't easy to find a hospital that allows you to shadow a physician, ask questions, connect with patients or focus on the day-to-day scenarios first-hand within wards. However, if you can’t gain access to such an experience, don't be disheartened. Working in healthcare facilities such as aged-care homes or nursing homes are also prominent ways to signify your interest in medicine.
By taking on opportunities within such facilities, you will be assisting with the patient's daily needs and contributing towards administrative tasks. A nursing home is closer in comparison with a hospital ward setting, and you'll get to observe and analyze the residents and various treatments offered for specific symptoms. These scenarios can majorly influence your chances of getting into medical school.
Medical School Extracurriculars: Research Assistant
Without a doubt, research experience is a huge bonus in your med school application. This extracurricular activity provides sufficient information on your curiosity, willingness to perform hectic research, critical analysis, interest in learning new information, a keen eye for discoveries, and most importantly, a desire to work hard towards your passion.
These are excellent attributes to demonstrate when invited for a medical interview. In pursuing MD programs in Australia, research experience is given more weightage, and rightly so, as your aim to become a doctor requires a strong foundation in medicine and research. By conducting research, you will add more value to your medical application and, which will in turn make you a stronger candidate. This is also advantageous to you as participating in multiple research studies can help you determine your areas of interest and ultimately guide you in your medical journey.
Prospective students entering medicine must acquire a certain level of expertise in research and hone their written communication skills. Hence, participating in research provides hands-on experience to test various hypotheses, conduct surveys, prepare industry reports, and contribute to major publications that actively shape the state of medicine in the country.
Extracurricular Activities For Medicine: Community Engagement
As a doctor, selflessness is necessary. Working long hours, taking minimal meal breaks, and diagnosing complex issues in multiple patients are crucial aspects of the job. It would be best if you were sincerely dedicated to serving and managing the well-being of others.
One of the primary reasons behind choosing to be a doctor is the desire to help people in need. By putting others first, you demonstrate a genuine interest in medicine to the admission committee. In terms of serving the community, there are multiple roles you can adorn. Depending on your passion and to name a few, you could volunteer in community and government hospitals, clinical wards, retirement homes, special care facilities. This proves your overall perspective in understanding the community and taking special attention to improving the well-being of the community.
Additionally, if you are passionate about underprivileged or disadvantaged communities, focus on volunteering in shelter homes, adoption agencies, vulnerable youth, or mental health. There is no right or wrong in choosing a community service, as most experiences denote personal and professional growth within the medical field..
Personal Interests As An Extracurricular For Med School
Besides gaining experience in pre-med activities, your interests can also aid in highlighting valuable traits to the medical interviewers; the kind of person you are, your motivations, strengths and weaknesses, and wisdom gleaned from such experiences. These personal extracurricular activities can range from sports, music, dance, painting, etc. In discussing these, you can explain to the interviewers how you will implement your experiences in medical school and beyond.
Some universities such as Griffith, Macquarie, and UNDA require you to write a descriptive medical personal statement. Within the personal statement, you have the liberty to write explicitly about your interests and hobbies, the methods you adopted to become successful at them, or other soft skills you gained while participating in hobbies such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and empathy. Such attributes can make your personal statement stand out and speak volumes about your characteristics to succeed as a doctor.
A piece of advice is to take on hobbies that can strengthen your non-cognitive skills besides academic achievements.
Now the ball is in your court: you must make a conscious decision on an extracurricular activity that can best express your stance in medical school and prove your credibility as a doctor in the long run.
# Tip1: Articulate the abilities you gained during extracurricular to align with qualities that medical schools look for.
#Tip2: Don't beat around the bush. Get straight to addressing key elements you learned in an extracurricular activity, rather than speaking of unimpactful aspects. For instance, It is more influential to speak about your leadership skill by narrating how you managed to win in basketball against a strong opponent than focusing on how you got into basketball, which is irrelevant.
#Tip 3: Illustrate your consistency in the extracurricular you have chosen to pursue. Speak exclusively about your persistence and determination, which can prove you have what it takes to be a doctor.
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