Is Quality or Quantity More Important For Med School Apps?

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ADG 181: Is Quality or Quantity More Important For Med School Apps?

Session 181

This upcoming applicant is nervous about having just a few shadowing hours. How will med schools look at her just now being able to find shadowing?

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[00:25] Question of the Day

“I know shadowing is a really important part of the application process and I really just don’t have any. I have a little bit but not nearly enough. And I don’t even know how to go about getting shadowing. My shadowing from the past was with my family practitioner so I knew him personally. 

Whenever I’ve looked into getting shadowing, I can never figure out the best way to go about it. And I think part of it is just me being a little shy and like, not wanting to put myself out there. But I was just wondering if you’ve had any tips for that?”

[01:07] Put Yourself Out There

Obviously, during COVID, shadowing was really hard to get, depending on what area of the country you’re in. But if you can show that you’re vaccinated, that opens up some opportunities for you. Just keep on emailing, calling, finding out, asking questions, and networking with friends and family members. See if they know anyone who may allow you to shadow.

'Put yourself out there. The best way to get shadowing is to get lots of people to say no to you. And then someone will eventually say yes.'Click To Tweet

It’s typically easier to shadow in smaller private practices than big academic medical centers as they’re inundated with students. But just put yourself out there and be okay with the rejections because that’s how you get to the yeses.

That being said, with COVID, there’s obviously an excuse for why you may have a big gap in shadowing therefore this is not an issue.

[03:27] Do What You Love to Do

Q: “I like to watch the Application Renovation videos a lot. And I’ve noticed with those that it seems like a lot of people have thousands of hours of activities. I do a lot of things, and I’m fairly consistent, but I just don’t have thousands of hours of research or clinical experience or anything like that. Do you think it’s more important to be fairly consistent with the things I’m doing? Or do I really need a thousand hours of research a year?”

A: You don’t need 1000s of hours of something to do well. You just need to do what you’re doing that means something to you. You’re not just doing it to check a box.

“200 hours where it really meant something to you and you can talk about it is much better than 2,000 hours where you were just doing it to check a box.”Click To Tweet

[05:03] Projecting Activity Hours

Q: I’m taking a gap year so I’ll have that year in between. With the gap year, can I project out the hours?

A: All of the stuff I’ve said in the past with projecting hours has changed because AMCAS has updated their application now to where they actually have a discrete separate question.

They now frame it as completed hours, and then anticipated hours. So now you don’t project out in the past, where you just kind of put it all into one. They actually have a whole separate section of each activity that says, How many hours do you anticipate getting?

[07:03] Will Age Be an Issue?

Q: I will be 20 when I apply. I’m planning on getting shadowing by the time I apply, and I will have quite a few clinical hours. But I am worried about my age impacting my application because I will be 21 when I start medical school. If I have the things that you’re supposed to have, do you think that that’s going to be a major deterrent for me?

A: It may not be a major deterrent, there’s an assumption that younger equals less mature. Typically, the issue that comes into play is less hours and less impactful hours. There’s also the inability to talk about why you’re doing this and reflect on those experiences.

And that’s because there aren’t as many to talk about why you want to be a doctor and reflect on other parts of your application. Then there are those behavioral type of questions of like a time where you were a leader and this and that. Because just with your age, you haven’t had those experiences.

[08:46] Nonclinical as Your Most Meaningful

Q: What is the protocol for choosing your most meaningful experiences? I also do youth coaching for rock climbing. And I’ve been doing that for about three years now. And that’s been really impactful for me. But since it’s not clinical, you know, is it okay to put that as a most meaningful experience?

A: Absolutely. It’s a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding of that most meaningful part of the AMCAS application as well as TMDSAS.

'The most meaningful is not the most meaningful, clinical, but most meaningful to you on your path to becoming a physician. It's most meaningful to you as a person.'Click To Tweet

And so, you could put sports in there, as well as your hobbies, such as talking about coaching rock climbing. That’s a great example of your truth as a human being in terms of what lights you up and what you’re passionate about.

[10:08] Where to Fit Your EMT Licensure

Q: “Last summer, I got my license as an EMT. And when doing that, I did the clinicals that you have to do to apply for the license and whatnot. And that was really impactful on me. There was a lot of stuff that went on, that I want to talk about in my application. But I’m just not sure where something like EMT clinicals fits in. Or if I could even put that on there because it was 25 hours of clinicals.

It wasn’t volunteering or work. Is that more something that I might want to talk about in my personal statement, since it was so impactful? Or could I actually put that as an activity like my EMT licensure? I’m just putting the clinicals that I had to do to get the license. I was working in an ER, and had a lot of patient interaction.

A: You can put it as an activity. I don’t think it’s super impactful because getting a certificate is not as impactful as what you do with that certificate and training. And so, if you haven’t worked as an EMT, then putting the certificate as an activity all by itself may be less impactful. But as you’ve said, if you had some patient interaction during that experience, then you can definitely put it on there.

[11:51] Studying for the MCAT

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Blueprint MCAT has the second best exams out there. That’s second to the AAMC exams because they’re obviously the makers of the exam. But for a third party test prep, Blueprint exams has 10 full-length exams. You get one for free if you sign up for a free account, if you haven’t signed up yet.


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