In this episode, Ryan talks about a question from a former Air Force medic who is now working towards applying to medical school. Would it suffice if the time since your last clinical experience was almost 2 years ago? Or should you get more?
Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.
OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
Today’s poster is a former Air Force medic and worked as a public health technician while in the Air Force. He was into it for a total of 8 years and is now in college working towards becoming a doctor. His current main focus is earning great GPA and studying for the MCAT.
Because he has spent 8 years working in a hospital (close to doctors and working one-on-one on multiple occasions), can this experience be used as a shadowing experience? (He’s applying to medical school in 2018 and the last time he would have worked with a doctor would be November 2016) Should more shadowing be done?
Here are the insights from Ryan:
Medical schools want to see that you have sustained commitment to medicine as a whole.
If your last exposure was close to 2 years since, it’s going to look bad on your application and they’ll wonder why you didn’t continue to expose yourself to medicine. Not surrounding yourself with medicine for two years is questionable.
Being a military medic or being around military medicine is completely different than it is for civilian medicine in terms of the environment and how things are paid for and done.
You would be better served by getting more clinical experience and shadowing more physicians. If you have two years until you’re applying, start shadowing once every other week for an hour or two. You don’t have to do a ton of stuff.
Being a former Air Force medic, you’re close to getting your EMT certificate or license to be able to go and get more clinical experience as a civilian.
Major takeaway from this episode:
All your experience plays a huge role in your application but 2 years is too long ago to not continue to do something now.
Links and Other Resources:
Dr. Ryan Gray: The Old Premeds Podcast is part of the Med Ed Media network at www.MedEdMedia.com.
This is the Old Premeds Podcast, session number 53.
You’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms. You may have had some hiccups along the way, but now you’re now ready to change course and go back and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your nontraditional journey to becoming a physician.
Welcome back to the Old Premeds Podcast if this is not your first time joining us, and welcome if this is. We are a podcast dedicated to nontraditional premed and technically medical students, though we don’t typically dive into medical student questions. We get our questions directly from the www.OldPremeds.org forums. If you don’t have an account, go sign up. It is the best, most collaborative environment for premed and medical students out there. Hands down, without a doubt.
Past Experience in Air Force
Today’s podcast is a special one for me having been an Air Force flight surgeon. The person asking a question today is a former Air Force medic. So let’s go ahead and dive into this question and I’ll give you my thoughts afterwards.
It says, ‘I am a former Air Force medic. I also had the occupation of public health technician while in the Air Force,’ also known as a 4E. I’m showing off my knowledge there. I think I’m right, hopefully. ‘I was in for a total of eight years, I am now currently in college working towards becoming a doctor. My main focus right now is earning a great GPA and studying for the MCAT. My main question is- my question is because I have spent eight years working in a hospital close to doctors, and working with them one-on-one on multiple occasions, can I use this experience as my shadowing experience? I worked rotations in a hospital in medic training. By the time I apply for medical school in 2018, the last time I would have worked with a doctor would be November, 2016. Is this bad? Should I get more shadowing done? I don’t want to because I want to focus on school 100% as I currently have a 3.9 and I’m about to take the serious sciences next semester. Any insight into this would be of great help. Thank you all for your time.’ And there’s a PS, ‘I would love to hear about any others who have gotten out of the military and are working towards this goal. I am very sad today because I got my first B, and I am looking for encouragement.’
So first of all, B’s are okay. Don’t get a lot of them, but B’s are okay. You don’t have to be a perfect student to get into medical school, there’s no doubt about that. Don’t worry about that B, you’ll be fine.
Alright so back to the original question of should he or she get more experience shadowing? And I’ll expand the question about clinical experience as well. Medical schools are going to want to see that you have a sustained commitment to exposure to medicine, a sustained commitment to medicine as a whole. And so if it’s going to be close to two years since your last exposure to medicine, to physicians, then that’s going to look bad on your application and they’re going to wonder why you didn’t continue to expose yourself to medicine. You are spending lots of money to apply to medical school, you’re going to spend a lot of money to go through medical school, you’re taking all this time to take your classes, and take the MCAT, to be a physician. So they assume you’re passion is medicine, and so not surrounding yourself with medicine for two years is questionable.
Now let me also add another caveat. Being a military medic, and being around military medicine is completely different than it is for civilian medicine. Yes medicine is medicine is medicine, you’re treating patients, but the environment is different. How things are paid for and how things are done is completely different. And so you would be better served by going and getting some more clinical experience if you can, and going and shadowing some more physicians. And shadowing doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you have two years until you’re applying, start shadowing once every other week for the next couple years for an hour or two. You don’t have to do a ton of stuff. I mean if you do once every other week, that’s about fifty hours if you’re doing an hour, right? 52 weeks a year. So it’s not a huge commitment. The clinical experience is important too, and with your background as an Air Force medic, how close are you to maybe getting your EMT certificate or license to be able to go and get some more clinical experience, again as a civilian and not as a military member. All of your experience is huge and is going to play a huge role in your application, but it’s too long ago to not continue to do something now. So think about that and good luck on your journey, thank you for your service, and I’m here to help you if you need anything. Shoot me an email, [email protected]
Alright that is all for today. I hope you got a little bit of information out of this, a little bit more specific to military medicine, but in the end it’s really not specific to military medicine because the question pertains to anybody that’s done anything healthcare related, and then takes a break to go back to school and does what this student is doing, and focuses 100% on school and ignores the rest of the application. And that’s where the trap lies. You don’t want to focus 100% on school at the expense of making yourself well-rounded.
So that’s all I have for you today. Good luck on your journey. I hope you join us next week here at the Old Premeds Podcast, and don’t forget, go check out our other podcasts over at www.MedEdMedia.com. As I played last week we released our Specialty Stories podcast. It seems to be a hit so far. The podcast episode today for Specialty Stories is all about community emergency medicine. Go check that out, again www.MedEdMedia.com. Check you next week here at the Old Premeds Podcast.
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