How much EC's are really necessary?

Ok - so how many EC’s does one really have to have for a competitive application? Like many of you, I work full-time, and go to school, which leaves very little time for EC’s. However, I’ve managed to pick up a volunteering/tutoring gig at an underprivileged elementary school (weekly) and am working on getting into an volunteer position at an ER at an Ivy school in my area. That’s a six-month commitment, 3-hours per week. Is this enough - if not, what else should I be thinking about?


There is no magic number for EC’s. Medical schools do not want someone who is not well rounded and spends their entire life in a book.

you know, “EC” is a term you hear pre-meds throwing around over at the studentdoctor chatboard, as though it’s this pesky little requirement people need to get out of the way.

But to be a well rounded and competitive candidate, you really should be doing stuff which reflects and amplifies your interests in health care (or whatever community activity that excites you).

If this volunteer position is in something you are excited about, e.g. learning about some aspect of working in a hospital, or working with a certain patient population, then that’s great. If it’s just a bullet on a list of to-do items, then it will be reflected in your application and interview.

When I interviewed at a med school in California, we had a group style interview with 5 med students seated across from 3 faculty, and so we got to hear what each other sounded like. It was a little odd, but interesting. This gal seated next to me had a master’s degree from a Jewish seminary and also a science degree and had been involved in cancer research back East. Very interesting background, but her delivery was flat and almost robotic. It was as though she was a very bad method actor just reciting her lines.

You need to do stuff that excites you. When I was volunteering at a big city hospital, I found everything new and interesting, but that tends to be my attitude whenever I delve into a new field. Anyway, I eventually ended up at an outpatient clinic for MS patients and I spent a lot of time with the patients and also got to sit in on research meetings, and it was just fascinating. I would talk with the patients about their children, about politics, about food, or whatever they felt like, and I got to know them a little as we showed up week after week. It was an amazing experience, and I tried to communicate that excitement to my interviewers. I guess it worked because I got multiple acceptances. Not that I’ve done that stellar a job as a medical student, but at least I developed a foundation to build upon.

That’s just my own opinions based on one guy’s experience. Best of luck,

Exactly…the “EC’s” feel like it’s just another list of to-do’s, might as well be part of the pre-reqs. I think I see what you’re saying though from your post…make it meaningful, so you can speak about it in an interview with some candor.

Thanks for the note.

I actually like the EC part of it…I volunteer at a school that is privately funded where kids from various homeless shelters attend, I read to the 1st grade classroom once a week, and I tutor whenever I can. I absolutely love it there and I feel like I’m making a difference. I just created a March of Dimes team and I’m trying to con my firm into sponsoring me…my goal is only $2000 but it’s going fairly well so far. I just kinda like doing that stuff. It’s what made me want to be a doctor in the first place.