Clinical but no research or volunteering

Hi all,

I am a non-traditional currently doing a DIY post bacc. I started my post bacc in the beginning of 2021 and I plan on taking the MCAT next spring and hopefully applying for the upcoming cycle. I have a few years of clinical experience, I worked in two different emergency rooms as a secretary/CNA for 2 years in total and I am currently a mental health tech in a psychiatric portion of a hospital and have been here for two years as well. I have shadowing hours that I have been able to accumulate through coming into work on my days off and shadowing physicians I have met through my job. My downfall is that I have no research background or volunteer experience whatsoever. I’ve been having issues getting started with both due to covid restrictions. Would it be best for me to take time and focus on getting research and volunteer experience and apply after this upcoming cycle or would I be okay with not having those experiences/trying to get in some hours from now until next cycle?

For reference, those clinical hours are what impacted my decision to choose the path of becoming a doctor and I plan to use them as very meaningful experiences in my future applications.

Sorry this is so long, thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this all, Lauren from Florida.

You do not need research experience to be considered for medical school. It’s helpful especially if you are applying MD/PhD but not essential. Volunteering however is something that you should strive to secure between now and next application cycle. Try literally anything: crisis call centers, clinics, food banks, etc.

It’s something I plan to work on as well.


Also will add that if you have paid clinical experience, volunteering does not have to be clinical. I scribe part time and worked as a receptionist for two years prior to my current position. However, I have volunteer experience at a school in 2012 and more recently remotely as a research assistant at Stanford and content editor for a premed start up (undergrad degree is in English). I have ~70 research hours last year and am going to start volunteering again with Stanford on a new project. I’m planning to apply to DO schools (and maybe MD schools that focus more on primary care) where research isn’t as important