The Struggle With Consistency In Shadowing And Volunteering

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Session 160

Consistency is key but what happens when there are areas of consistency in your application but your shadowing and clinical are not? How will this be viewed?

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Meanwhile, our questions on this podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to register for a free account to join our collaborative community as you help each other on this journey to becoming a physician.

[02:25] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

I graduated from the University of Florida in 2010 with a 3.0 GPA and sGPA of 2.67. I commissioned as an Officer in the Navy and spent 6.5 years on active duty. Becoming a physician was my goal during undergrad, but I fell extremely short of living up to the standards of a premed student. During my time in the Navy, I got married and my wife was a huge proponent of me following my dreams. I knew that in order to pursue matriculation into medical school I needed to get my GPA up, so I started taking some online classes at a local state college (all science-based classes) to see if I still had the academic ability and ended up doing well. This boosted my confidence and I decided to resign my commission and pursue admittance into medical school full time. I was accepted into the University of South Florida where I recently received a second BS in Cell and Molecular Biology. Since the completion of my first BS at UF, I have completed 51 additional credit hours (all science based), received a 4.0 in all classes and have increased both my GPA and sGPA to a 3.22.

My extracurriculars are as follows:

  • Active Duty Naval Officer: Aug 2010-Oct2016
  • Navy Reserve Officer: Oct 2016-Present
  • Physician Shadowing: Roughly 100 hours in 2009
  • Clinical Volunteering: 298 hours Jun-Oct 2016
  • Substitute Teacher in a rural county in Florida: Nov 2016-Present
  • Take Stock in Children Mentor in a rural Florida county: May 2017-Present
  • Research Lab Assistant: May 2017-Present

In knowing the majority of my background information, my question deals with consistency. In listening to Dr. Gray’s podcasts, I know he preaches (and have heard this from other sources as well) that consistency is key.

In regards to Med School Admissions committees, are they looking simply for consistency, because it shows that you are able to commit, or is it more specifically consistency in medical extracurriculars?

For example, all of my shadowing and clinical experiences have proven to me that medicine is where I want to be although they have been “brief”. I have shown consistency in several other areas, but not in shadowing or clinical volunteering. Unfortunately, I live in a very rural area in Florida, and finding shadowing opportunities has been extremely difficult.”

[04:45] Consistency is Key!

The goal of consistency is not just consistency to show commitment. It refers to consistency in medical experiences. You need to have consistent clinical experience and shadowing. For some schools, it means volunteering and nonclinical volunteering. Consistency in medical experiences shows that admissions committees that you enjoy being around patients and you like being in a hospital/clinic setting.

'Consistency in medical experiences shows the admissions committees that you are dedicated to being a physician.'Click To Tweet

Do not base everything you’re doing now on experience from ten years ago. They don’t want you to make the mistake of going down this path without continuing to reassure yourself that this is what you want. So the key is consistent clinical experience and shadowing, and for some schools, consistent volunteering.

[06:20] Consistency in Spacing Throughout Application

Don’t cram it all in before the application. If you had 800 hours of shadowing but it’s all from April and May of the year you’re applying, this would look like you crammed in shadowing so you can fluff up your application if you don’t have any shadowing before that. And it would be obvious to see if this is what you’re doing.

'You don't have to do it everyday, all day. It just has to be consistent.'Click To Tweet

So you need to start shadowing, even just 5 hours a week, as long as it’s something you do consistently. Even if you’re living in the rural part of Florida or any state, you can still travel on a weekend for a couple of hours and go get five hours in a hospital setting somewhere and then go home.

'Consistency is a huge part in the application process.'Click To Tweet

[07:39] Get Some Clinical Experience In!

If you’ve taken some time away from clinical experience, shadowing, or volunteering because you’re probably working full time or taking care of family, work that into your comeback schedule. If you’re planning on applying in 2019 but you haven’t had any clinical experience in 5 years, then maybe push off a year so you can work those clinical experience, shadowing, and volunteering in so you can get back into that consistency so you can show the admissions committee that you are dedicated to this and that you know this is what you want and you have recent experience putting yourself around doctors and patients.


Board Rounds


Jack Westin

Nontrad Premed Forum