Extracurriculars and Shadowing advice

Hello all, :hugs: I am a super non-trad and only need two more courses after this semester to complete my pre-reqs. I am currently studying for the MCAT in the midst of being a full time student. I am working part time at a mental health clinic. I have been working at this clinic for 4 years and have accumulated lots and lots of hours of direct patient contact which I think counts as clinical experience. I’ve had a caseload of my own since I started. My issue is with shadowing and extracurricular activities outside of school and work that I do not have much of. Unfortunately COVID hit right when I started working on my pre-reqs which has limited me from being able to accumulate these hours. I went from full time work to part time so I could dedicate time to preparing but, as we know, everything closed down. I’m still seeking for each of these opportunities now that things are opening back up but just don’t know if and how bad this will affect me on my application. I truly want to apply this cycle but would like some advice on this.

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Gaining clinical experience is an important part of the medical school application. But to be a competitive medical school applicant, some have questioned if it’s necessary to shadow a doctor. It’s true that shadowing is a great experience, as it exposes you to patient care in a clinical setting and gives you an idea of the day-to-day demands of a medical career. But as a pre-med student, you’re often balancing a rigorous academic schedule, along with extracurricular and personal responsibilities, so shadowing may not be a possibility.

When you apply to medical school, admissions committees look to see that your application conveys evidence of empathy, service orientation, ethical responsibility to self and others, an awareness of what a career as a practicing physician entails, as well as other characteristics and strengths. While shadowing may offer you exposure to the patient care environment, it’s not the only way to demonstrate these skills and attributes.

In a recent survey of medical school admissions officers conducted by the AAMC, 87% of survey respondents indicated that they accept an alternate activity instead of clinical shadowing.

No matter how you choose to gain clinical experience, it’s important to remember quality is more important than quantity. Admissions officers want you to not only show depth of experience and a longitudinal commitment to the work you choose, but also to be able to articulate how your medical exposure has informed your motivation for a career in medicine. You can learn more about each school’s policies regarding clinical experiences in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR).It’s also a good idea to contact any medical school that you’re interested in to ensure that your planned activity meets their admission criteria.

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