Do I Need to Diversify my Clinical Experience?

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OPM 300: Do I Need to Diversify my Clinical Experience?

Session 300

Today’s 2022 applicant was told that their clinical experience wasn’t enough. Do they need more or was that person wrong?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:50] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

If you are getting ready to take the MCAT one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not doing practice exams. 

I recorded an episode of Application Renovation today and a student went from a 498 to a 500 to a 499 to a 511. The biggest difference in his score was the fact that he did full-length exams, Q-banks, and all of those things which you can get from Blueprint MCAT.

Don’t just settle with content review. Get the practice you need, doing questions with a Qbank and with full-length exams.

[01:42] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’m a nontrad student looking to apply in May 2022 to start Med school Fall 2023. With questions about my next steps regarding the MCAT, clinical experience, and applying (questions at the very end).

About me:

I’m a 26-year-old east coaster living in California working in clinical research. 

Previously, I did not do well in undergrad (family health-related issues, which I will discuss on apps) and did a GPA enhancer postbac program. 

In between, I spent time living abroad in Argentina (I’m bilingual in Spanish and English) where my family is originally from.


  • large state school undergrad GPA: 3.129
  • postbac at UPenn GPA: 3.69


  • 2-3 from dermatologists
  • 1-2 from academic UPenn

Clinical experience:

  • Medical assistant in a private dermatology clinic (2 years)
  • Peer mentor at an adolescent substance abuse program (6 months)


  • Studied learning and memory in fruit flies at UBA Med school in Argentina (6 months). I lived in Argentina for 2 years as part of my gap years.

Non-health experience:

  • I worked in sales at a software tech company in Argentina.


  • I am working at UCSD Cancer Center as a full-time Clinical Research Coordinator (3 months).


  • I’m currently studying for the MCAT to take in May 2022, but it’s difficult to study effectively with a full-time job.

I got some recent feedback from someone who used to be on admission that my clinical experiences so far aren’t compelling enough (I.e medical assisting), which surprised me. 

They mentioned that the clinical research coordinator position that I’m working on currently will be viewed as administrative even though I do interact with patients. 

They advised me to find a different, more clinical job. 

Also, since getting into the UC med schools is unlikely (while even working at a UC school), they said it’s not worth continuing to work there at the expense of MCAT studying.

Separately, the CRC job is highly demanding, and working full-time has made studying for the MCAT quite difficult. So I am not opposed to finding a new job ideally part-time until I take the MCAT in May 2022.

My questions:

  • What clinical jobs would make my story more compelling?
  • I’m leaning towards taking a few months off to study for the MCAT. If I can swing this, would you advise for or against it?
  • What gaps in my experiences/potential application do you see?
  • Any general advice?”

[04:19] Don’t Listen to Those Kinds of Feedback!

I loathe feedback that says you’re not compelling enough. There is no clinical experience that is compelling enough. And people who are giving this kind of feedback have to stop it already.

'There are only so many things you can do out there on top of everything else you're already doing.'Click To Tweet

With regards to studying for the MCAT, take a couple of months off. If that’s what you think you need, do it.

[06:27] Admin vs. Clinical Experience

In terms of your experience as a clinical research coordinator being seen as an admin, generally an admissions person at a medical school is not very clinical. Most medicine is admin work. The far majority of a physician’s time or resident’s time is admin work. But that doesn’t mean what you’re doing is not clinical.

'Just because admin work is associated with what you're doing doesn't mean what you're doing is not clinical.'Click To Tweet

Therefore, as a clinical research coordinator, you could count that as clinical experience. Understand that there are 200+ medical schools in this country. Not everyone will go; they love clinical research coordinators. And that’s okay because you can’t do anything about that.

[07:41] Gaps in the Application

Now that you’re working as a medical assistant, which is a great experience, you can take a couple of months off. See if you can maybe go per diem, take the MCAT and then get back to it. Then you don’t even really have any gaps in your application.

Other than that, make sure you’re also focusing on grades, MCAT score, clinical experience, shadowing, etc. Do well on the MCAT. Turn your application in early. Tell a good story.

[08:28] Stories Matter!

I recorded an episode of Application Renovation today, which will come out on Season 4, Episode 11. The student has a 4.0 GPA and 528 MCAT. And they got one interview, no acceptances.

'Stats matter but the rest of your application matters as well.'Click To Tweet


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