Pre-Med Students: Don’t Be One Dimensional

As you know, medical schools evaluate many different factors when making admissions decisions.  In addition to a strong GPA, they expect to see a strong record of extracurricular activities and time spent in medical related jobs.  But most medical schools are looking for more than just strong academics and medical experience—they also want to know that their applicants are well-rounded individuals.  They’re not looking for robots, in other words.  While your GPA and your medical experience are important, med schools are looking for applicants that have other strengths and other interests as well.  That’s why, for students that are looking to get ahead of their competition, its well worth your time to volunteer in areas outside the medical field.  Below are some suggestions to help you get started.

1)     Do something you enjoy. Find a volunteer opportunity that matches your interests.  That way you’re likely to legitimately enjoy it and receive the satisfaction of knowing that you’re dedicating your time to a good cause.  You’re also more likely to stick with it and log a substantial amount of hours, which will impress your med school admissions counselors.

2)     Truly get involved. Volunteering for an hour or two each month just isn’t that impressive.  It will be obvious to med schools that you are simply trying to “check off” an admissions requirement.  Try to dedicate at least an hour or two each week, and seek out a leadership position.  These steps will be much easier if you follow suggestion number one above, and make sure that you’re involved in something you’re truly interested in.

3)     Develop relevant skills. There is more than simply medical knowledge required to be a medical professional.  Your volunteer hours can be a great opportunity to improve your social and relational skills as you develop the ability to “connect” with others.  Keep in mind that, at some point during the med school application process, you’ll have an opportunity to describe what you learned from your volunteer time and what it meant to you.  By working to develop important non-medical skills, you’ll be sure to impress admissions counselors with your answer.

While strong academics and medical experience are important for med school admissions, don’t neglect your non-medical volunteer time.  Remember that your goal is to present yourself as a well-rounded individual, not a robot!


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