Can Volunteer Experience Expire?

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OPM 313: Can Volunteer Experience Expire?

Session 313

This older premed is in great shape with clinical, but they are not sure about their volunteer experiences. What counts? How old can it be?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Premed Hangout. Go ask your questions there and use #OPMquestion.

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.

[01:00] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

If you are taking the MCAT at the beginning of next year, start preparing and make sure that you have your plan all laid out. Ideally, you want to take the MCAT in January to April of the year that you’re going to apply, which is the year before you’re going to start medical school.

And as you do all of that, go to Blueprint MCAT. Sign up for their free account and get access to their amazing free study planner tool.

[02:09] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“What volunteer work counts? How far back can we count it? I’m a nurse and have lots of clinical experience and several volunteer experiences dating back 20 years. But my most recent volunteer work is giving COVID vaccines and now fostering dogs for a dog rescue. Lastly, what counts, and what I should leave out?”

[02:31] What Counts?

Well, it all counts. The general rule of thumb is anything post-high school. For nontrads out there, that means some of your experiences maybe 20 years old. They could be going back to your early college years, or maybe even post-college, or your early work years, if you’ve been in your career for 15 or 20 years. And it all counts.

The goal of the activity section is to number one, show that you’ve been getting clinical experience and shadowing. You need to show the admissions committee that you understand what you’re getting yourself into. That way, you can easily talk about it in your personal statement and interviews.

[03:37] How Long Can Activities Be?

The time can go back 15-20 years, especially as a nurse, and you’ve been working in a clinical field for many years. And that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a great clinical experience, even if it’s 20 years ago.

Now, it’s different when you say you were a CNA in college for a year and you haven’t done anything clinical for 19 years. That’s a very different context so that would be a very different story and a very different answer.

But going back to the question about how long activities can be, then those can go back to post-high school.

'The activity section is there to show that you have been doing the things to prove to yourself, first and foremost, and then show the medical schools that you want to be a doctor.'Click To Tweet

[04:50] Be Sure to Fill Out Your Timeline

Another reason for your activities is to fill out your timeline. Maybe you’ve been out of medical school for 11 years but you’re only showing two years of clinical activities because you’ve been doing non-clinical stuff. Then all that goes to your application as well. Activities include both clinical and non-clinical stuff.

'All of the experiences are an opportunity to show the medical schools who you are and what you bring to the class.'Click To Tweet

And so, don’t diminish your activities just because they’re old or they’re non-clinical. Take all of the experiences that you’ve had. Show how you’ve impacted them and how they’ve impacted you. Show the admissions committee who you are – and the activity section is the best place for that.

Do your best to fill in all those 15 spots for AMCAS. That may mean you have to combine some things and that may also mean some smaller things just get left out and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be a 100% complete and accurate timeline or resume. It’s highlighting the things that you want to highlight to show the admissions committee who you are.


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