Is it possible to argue a desire to be medicine with little or no direct clinical experience?

I am planning to apply this next cycle and am a nontrad premed. I have ten years of working in my formal career in business accounting, several years before that in the restaurant industry, and a variety of volunteer activities, caregiving activities, shadowing hours, etc.

The one thing I am lacking is direct clinical experience. I live in a somewhat rural area where COVID is still not well controlled. I feel lucky to have gotten shadowing hours even. A lot of the volunteer activities I do are related to health care - ICU volunteering, hospice volunteering, but are non patient facing.

I realize that clinical experience is very important and I have tried to get direct clinical experience but it simply has not worked out based on my schedule and demographics. I work a 9-5 M-F and am not in a position financially to quit my job (the whole goal has been to prepare financially for med school so I am able to quit my job at that point). I’ve looked into patient facing hospice, phlebotomy, scribing, medical assisting, volunteer EMT, care companions, etc. the sense I get is that it is too much liability for companies to have volunteers be patient facing given the pandemic, but if they were to employ you, they expect 20 hours +/wk and that simply doesn’t fit into my schedule.

However, despite all of this, I feel like I have gained a strong understanding of what clinical work would be like, and have a desire for it. In part I believe this comes with being a non trad student and being in the work force for several years. I’ve spent significant time working at a desk in non-client facing roles - I know I really dislike this. Ive also spent significant time in fast paced work where I am on my feet and working with customers (some of whom are unhappy) and I really enjoyed this type of work. Furthermore, I have acted as a caregiver to multiple relatives and loved ones on long term basis and I was not turned off by this type of work and what it entailed (the most recent experience I have in this area was this past fall taking care of my elderly grandmother for about a month on evenings and weekends, otherwise I am far removed from my other experiences) I have volunteered at many flu clinics, checking people in, answering their questions, etc. and I really liked this interaction. My time with Hospice, while not client facing has been so important because I have learned that while I not only like the type of work that would entail being a physician, I have recognized that issues of medicine and age and related ailments are something that are very important to me and I have a heart for. Lastly, my volunteer time in the ICU, while not client facing, has me regularly interacting with the nurses and staff, and often comforting very distraught family members, and I realize that is another component of care that is significant.

So, while I am not in a role where I am checking in patients and taking their vitals and history each day, I feel like I understand what is involved with work in medicine based on my various experiences, and I want to be a part of all of it. The one thing I recognize I am lacking is the actual knowledge that would come with being in such a job - knowing acronyms, recognizing standard medications, etc. But medical school teaches you all of this. My shortcoming might simply be that I’m not starting on the same page as some of my peers, but I have confidence in myself that I will rise to the occasion.

So, all of that being said, do you think it is possible to express this to medical schools when I apply? Or do you think I will be shooting myself in the foot to apply without direct clinical experience? I do feel like there is knowledge and wisdom that comes with being a nontrad and being in the workforce that I know I didn’t have as a trad student - I simply wouldn’t have had the insight and experience to place myself in those roles mentally and know if I would like them or not. I would have had to go out and actually get a job in a clinic, because how was I to know if I really enjoyed working with people that might come in miserable because they feel really sick? I hadn’t worked much at all at that point and had very little experience or run ins with unhappy people in a professional situation (just to give an example).

My other option is to wait a year to apply; I will be in a better position to quit my FT job by fall of 2022 and could apply for a clinical position, but I’m also hesitant to do this because I recognize that time is not on my side - I want to maximize my time as a physician, and seeing as I am older, time is already not on my side.

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