Beyond Straight A’s: 5 Smart Moves that Will Boost Your Chances of Getting into Med School

Written by  //  2014/08/01  //  College Major  //  Comments Off on Beyond Straight A’s: 5 Smart Moves that Will Boost Your Chances of Getting into Med School

Having high grades is an obvious prerequisite to getting accepted into medical school, but increasingly schools are looking at more than a student’s GPA. Besides volunteering or working in a medical setting, which is also expected on medical school applications, there are specific areas to get involved in that will increase your odds. If you are looking for a few more items to add to your med school applications, read on to get a little inspiration that could help give you the boost you need.

Get Certified

Getting a certification as an EMT or even a nurse’s aide shows that you’re not only serious about the medical field but you’re willing to get involved at all different levels. This is actual medical experience that goes beyond volunteering or even shadowing a physician. Yes, any experience can be helpful, but if you have legitimate certification within the medical field it shows that you played a critical role in the medical field and that your experience went beyond observing and taking notes.

Medical Research

Research is an area that is expanding exponentially, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find volunteering opportunities or even paid positions that allow you to help with medical research somehow. On your applications, specializing in something out of the ordinary is better than saying you just did general research. Research in the areas of experimental cancer drugs, or the ways animals communicate are hot topics right now, so participating in cutting edge research will really give your resume a boost. Research that ends with a publication or a professional presentation can be particularly valuable because it makes you look more professional and your research more legitimate.

Teach a Class

Teaching an undergraduate class or tutoring other students looks good on a resume and will probably even earn you some money while you’re at it. Teaching and tutoring shows leadership skills and the ability to communicate well with others. Being able to describe complex medical issues in layman’s terms is the art of being a good doctor. Your university likely has a tutoring program that you can join, or you can start your own tutoring business. Obviously, teaching an undergraduate class is perhaps more impressive than tutoring on the side, but teaching positions are often hard to come by depending on your institution’s current staff needs.

Participate With (or Start) a Non-Profit

Getting experience in the medical field often means that you aren’t getting paid, but this can actually work to your advantage. Volunteering and working with non-profit organizations is a must if you want to have an edge over the competition when applying to medical school. If you choose to work with a non-profit, try to find a position where you will actually be doing medical work—not just answering phones or filing papers. You’ll likely need to describe your volunteer work, and admissions officers will be more impressed by real medical experience as opposed to general volunteering. Some prospective med-school students have gotten really creative and started their own non-profit projects, which is a huge boost for your resume. Starting a non-profit not only shows leadership skills, but initiative and motivation. Providing services or specialized medical care for a particular group such as the elderly or the disabled are but a few options for those who want to start their own non-profit project.

Learn a Foreign Language

This should go beyond just taking a couple of years in high school. Becoming fluent enough in a second language that you can easily converse with others is an obvious asset for a doctor. Many hospitals are bringing in translators as our population becomes more diverse. Becoming fluent in more than one language will make you even more valuable as a physician and can make you more appealing to medical schools as well as hospitals and clinics.

The important thing to remember when choosing extracurricular activities is to pick things you truly enjoy. Just picking activities so you can check off a box won’t showcase your talents or help you reach your potential. Finally, it looks better to stick with a few activities for the long run instead of jumping around to different ones without really getting involved. By putting a significant amount of time and effort into a few truly valuable activities, you’ll have a lot more to show for it when it comes time to apply for medical school.

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