Our student this week has spent hours taking care of family members as a caretaker. Would it count as clinical experience?
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.
[00:32] Question of the Day
“Majority of my clinical experience has been being a caretaker for my family. But now, I’m scribing and I’m trying to get more clinical experience just because I feel like that will be a weak part of my application.
I don’t know if it’s enough, or is it just right to just do scribing? Or should I do more to overcompensate years of not doing clinical experience?”
Our student says she started scribing in April of 2021 and she wants to apply to medical school this cycle.
[01:39] Being a Caretaker
Our student says that in 2017, her grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and her family gave her the job of taking care of him. She describes going back and forth his chemos to hydration then going to school and she was doing it from 2017 to when he passed away in 2018.
Then her mom got diagnosed with breast cancer, and then she had to take care of her. She was doing the same routine. But she has already adjusted to it and got used to doing it.
And then her brother got diagnosed with cancer. This is truly unfortunate, but it’s a great experience for our student to be able to spend some time with her family members as they’re going through with this, but also for her to explore healthcare.
Now, AAMC says you should put being a caretaker on your application as clinical experience. Because it is. You are really acting as a home health aide, a nurse, a do-it-all person in those situations.
And so, I recommend that she puts this on her application. The question, though, is whether that’s going to hurt her if that’s her only clinical experience or if that’s the far majority of her clinical experience.
But it is what it is. That’s what took up a lot of her time when she wasn’t going to school. Then the pandemic hit. And now that she’s able to do a scribe job, even if it’s only a couple of months, she could put this on her application. She could also extend this out in terms of estimated hours and estimated end date.
[04:29] Looking at the Other Parts of Her Application
Being on her senior currently, our student has gotten straight A’s and one B. And she’s been having a year and a half of a good trend. Her calculated GPA is at around 3.4. And it’s potentially better with the new grades, and then the trend being good.
She hasn’t taken the MCAT so she’s thinking about taking a gap year. She has already studied for the MCAT and registered for the test in July but is looking to take it in August so she could still practice.
She says she already has her committee letter and her personal statement done. And it’s only the MCAT stopping her. But there’s this thing called the fallacy of sunk costs, where you feel you’ve already done everything so you might as well apply, even when you don’t feel it’s right. But I recommend she listen to her gut as she has been telling me that she wanted to take a year off.'So many students just do it and they put together a terrible application.'Click To Tweet
This student sounds like she has put in a lot of work already. In the 2020-2021 application cycle, we saw an 18% increase in applications because a lot of students just did it. Maybe they thought there was a chance they didn’t have to take the MCAT and they could still get into medical school. So many students rushed their applications.
[10:50] Prepping for the MCAT
From a clinical experience standpoint, I think this student is fine. First, because of some decreased expectations from medical school admissions committees.
Check out this YouTube video of my Mappd team where Dr. Scott Wright, our VP of academic advising, did an Inside Med Admissions panel with three Deans and directors of medical school admissions. And they talked about How is COVID-19 impacting Medical School Admissions in 2021?
And so, admissions committees understand that students are going to have less clinical experience. They understand that they’re going to have less shadowing. And that’s just it is what it is. So from that standpoint, this student shouldn’t worry as much.
From an MCAT standpoint, that’s going to be the biggest question mark for her. She says she has taken her second full-length and got a 496. It’s a jump from her first full-length where she got around 480.
Her score is a normal starting point for most students. The question is whether she would have enough time to get to where she wants to be. That being said, she could submit her application to one school just so she can get verified. And it doesn’t have to be a throwaway school.
And so, I would advise her to apply to one school, get that application in, and study for the MCAT. Blueprint MCAT full-lengths are the best ones out there, second to the AAMC. And she should get the AAMC materials as well.
Blueprint has their study planner tool so she could just plug in the dates of when she’s planning on taking the MCAT and what she’s doing now. Another great idea is to join the Premed Hangout Group and form a study group.
[15:16] Final Thoughts
Now if she decides to hold off her application, she could talk to the committee and see if they could update it. The best case scenario is your letters are dated the same year of your application.
And if she decides to take a postbac, the classes won’t go on the application. She could potentially talk about it. Some of the secondaries will ask like, what are your plans if you’re not a full time student? And so, she could potentially put there that she’s going to continue to take classes.
In terms of her clinical experience, if she’s applying through AMCAS, she could put the estimated end date range.'Read the instruction manual. All the application services are different in terms of what they want you to do.'Click To Tweet
In conclusion, I think this student has already done everything to apply for the cycle. But if she doesn’t feel she’s ready, then all the stress that comes with forcing herself to apply this cycle isn’t worth it.