ECs and Wk Experience- what is the right balance?

Okay, so here is the deal. I am a fulltime Mom home with the kids for the summer (this is the major perk of my job btw… I suffer through the winter with wild boys, then we get OUT!!). I just finished Bio II, my plan is to take Chem and Physics next year, then the rest of Bio the following fall along with Orgo that whole year.
I qualified this year as an EMT-basic, and I plan to get experience part time at some point over the next two years.
Here is my question. I will be taking classes at night, probably working some at the weekends and basically juggling full-time motherhood with half-time school and half-time work…How important are other extra-curriculars? Also, how much EMT work should I plan to fit in? I want to do enough to keep my skills fresh, my certification valid, and to get the experience I need in the medical field.
My husband gets frustrated that I want to carry on volunteering with our church. I have lead study groups, lead worship on the worship team, worked with kids, organized drama teams. He feels that if I am working towards getting into med school, then I should focus completely on the things that I need to do that. I agree, but I hate to give up the “extra curriculars” that are very important to me.
What do the rest of you think?

Liz, your EMT experience is going to give you plenty of “medical” type stuff. Schools aren’t just looking for ECs that test your commitment medicine-wise. They’re also looking for your commitment to your fellow human (sounds cheesy, sorry) and your altruistic nature. When you think about it, pretty much every personal statement includes some version of “I want to help people.” Your ECs are a way to show that you have ALWAYS wanted to do that and you are committed to your community.
I think your church ECs are GREAT, all the more so because it sounds like they feed your spirit - so not only are you doing something good for other people, you’re doing something good for yourself. This is exactly the sort of thing I, personally, would like to see on a person’s application. It’s a commitment to self and sanity as well as community, it’s a long-standing ongoing commitment, not something you picked up 'cause you thought it would look good on your application, and it speaks loudly of the sorts of values that, at least theoretically, make for a humanistic physician.
Keep doing your church stuff! Maybe you’ll want to scale back some so that you’ve got time for family and studies, but definitely don’t ditch it.

Extra curriculars such as involvement in my church are important to my peace of mind, but pursuit of med school is time-consuming. So, I continue to participate but have relinquished my leadership roles. This way, I still feel connected to friends, I get the social support I need, and don’t feel stressed about organizing people/events or meeting more deadlines. (BTW, I work full time, take a full course load, volunteer at a local Free Clinic, stay involved in church, and spend time with my husband. But the only way that I am able to do all of this is because my three sons are grown – youngest will be 18 this summer. You have so much more on your plate with younger children. KUDOS to you for doing what you are doing! I got a Masters degree when my sons were 8, 9, 11 but I found it so difficult that I decided to wait until they were grown before going back to school.)

Thanks Mary and Anita for the encouragement. I think that was my gut feeling, but I the time issue is a pressing one for our family (I know I don’t have the corner on that… we all have full schedules!) I have been at school three nights a week all semester, and I think the prospect of another regular night out was killing my husband. You are right, the kids are little, and demanding, but he has sure grown in his involvement and I think this has been a positive thing for our family as a whole.
I think I will aim for a slightly scaled back church thing. Don’t misconstrue my earlier post… I only occasionally did ALL that stuff at one time, but I have been wondering what it would “look” like on paper. It is an important part of my life. Perhaps I can fit in a few drama events that aren’t long term… or teen stuff periodically…
Okay, more details about the EMT thing. I have not even applied for a job yet, since my time will be so crunched. How little work will be enough?? I am thinking about per diem, with the option to bump it up some during college breaks.

Lizard -
How much time you should spend as an EMT depends on what type of EMS systems you have available near you. Before I moved 3 hours away from my “home” and returned to school full time last fall, I volunteered for a on-call EMS system and worked part-time for a full-time county run system. I currently work part-time for a private ambulance service. All three of my EMS experiences have been good, but different.
If you have a volunteer system, that may be your best option. Most volunteers are “on-call” with a pager and have to respond to the station in so many minutes. Some require that you sign up for set times that you will respond if the pager goes off, others just ask for anybody available to show up when they can. In the volunteer system I was in, I was often “on-call” 60 hours a week. Some weeks I would make several runs, other weeks, there wouldn’t be any. We were paid an hourly wage for time actually spent on a run.
There are plenty of opportunities for part-time work in full time services, especially in the summer. The past few summers, I worked almost full time for a county run 911 system - mostly filling in for people on vacations. The nice thing about that system was being able to schedule days to work when I wanted to work. If I was going to be on vacation, I simply didn’t volunteer to work those days.
Similar opportunities exist in private EMS. Some schedule part-timers, some have people that work only on a call-in basis. In private EMS, you will get called in plenty.
The great thing about many EMS systems is that if your work is done (truck checked out and cleaned, station duties done, etc.) you are often allowed to study if you are not busy. If your service is not a high volume service, this is a great way to study. I often get more studying done at work on the weekends (I often work two 12 hour shifts) then I do the entire rest of the week!
Hope this helps!
On a different note - Since I moved, I haven’t been able to volunteer. This is a combination of an overwhelming school load, working (as an EMT), and being on the borderline of too far away from my nearest town to volunteer. Will my lack of volunteering this year hurt my application?

Amy, you don’t say what other volunteer experience you have, but what you’ve described sounds like good volunteer experience to me. There’s no “magic number,” it’s really just a question of demonstrating your interest in your community.

Mary -
As far as “pure” volunteer experience, I have also been a volunteer firefighter and founding member of the local “Friends of the Library”.
In my teaching years, I advised/coached junior class (prom), senior class, cheerleaders, volleyball, NHS, Spanish Club, musical. I’m never quite sure how to classify all of these as they are “paid” positions, but I volunteered to do them for the kids, not the money. Not to mention that when you figure out your hourly wage for coaching/advising, it usually works out to a VERY small amount. I guess these would all be classified as extracurriculars?
Although I would have liked to been more involved in other volunteer opportunities, there just wasn’t time with volunteer EMS, fire dept., school activities, and my part-time EMS job. I also completed my MEd in 2002.
As always, your comments and insights are appreciated, Mary!
BTW - can you tell I’m a bit on the type A personality side? (or maybe just plain crazy?)