Welcome back friends!
In this post, I would like to keep my fellow pre-med friends in mind specifically. Many of you may have concerns about what medical school are looking for in regards to things you do outside of academics. For some, it’s a question of are you doing enough and for others, it’s a question of how much is too much?? Don’t worry, I’ve been in your exact same shoes and throughout undergrad, I’ve developed a unique pathway for myself with all the things I’ve done and I would love to share with you what I’ve learned and my successes as well as failures.
As an eager and wide-eyed freshman, I had plans of joining a bazillion clubs because they all sounded fun and great for my resume! I was in for quite a surprise when I learned of the time committment and effort required of every organization. As a commuter and balancing all the hard intro science courses, I managed to join only 2 organizations and that was enough to keep my busy! I got accepted into a Pre-med Honor Society called Kappa Rho, and joined the Global Medical Brigades chapter at my college. All the volunteering, socials, and events I had to keep up with was not easy in addition to trying to keep up my GPA. If you’re a freshman, I highly encourage you to deeply explore the clubs you identify with and will be passionate about! In addition to school and organizations, I was also volunteering at the hospital for 3 hours every other week. I really enjoyed being at the hospital so I looked forward to every shift and never felt guilty for going and not studying. I was also a youth leader at my church which took place every Sunday. Remember that medical schools look at what HEALTHCARE and LEADERSHIP activities you were involved in so be mindful when joining clubs/volunteering!! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join other clubs that are non-medical related, but time management is KEY.
So this is where I REALLY messed up. In the fall semester, I was involved in Kappa Rho, youth group, hospital volunteering, AND took on a job as a receptionist at a Chiropractic clinic far from campus. I was drowning. That semester did NOT go well because I was taking hard classes like Ochem 1 and genetics and driving long ways from home to work then to school. Needless to say, I struggled a lot and if I could go back, I would’ve not taken on that job. My advice to you pre-meds would be to focus on your studies, and if you know you really need time for those hard science courses, then don’t add too much to your plate. Anywho, I bounced back the next semester by quitting that job, took a break from volunteering, and devoted 100% of my time to my studies and boy did the improvement show.
Junior year went more smoothly than sophomore year. I was still involved in Kappa Rho as a social coordinator and a youth leader, but this semester I took it slow and accepted a work-study job that would keep me on campus and allow time for me to study. This system worked great for my studies excelled as well as my time management with this new job. I took the fall semester easy and then in the spring when my classes weren’t so intense, I began a job as a part-time medical assistant to a pediatric clinic close to campus. Time management was still KEY, but by this time I knew my strengths and weaknesses to keep me on my feet.
I am currently in my senior year as I am writing this post. By this time, I am still involved Kappa Rho as the historian, part-time medical assistant, and youth leader. As a senior, I take less classes so I am better able to manage my time. However, I still have to juggle between extracurricular and writing a thesis as well as keeping up in the few classes that I’m in. Overall I feel like I’ve grown tremendously since Freshman year, and learned a lot about myself. I now understand my weaknesses, strengths, and limitations. College is a time for you to spread your wings and find out who you are. This couldn’t be truer for my college experience. Although it was a roller coaster ride with many loops and challenges, I think I came out the other end a more mature and mindful individual.
Bottom line is, don’t stretch yourself out too thin. Of course med schools want to see well-rounded applicants, but they also want to see organized and balanced students as well. Know your limits and then all things will fall into place 🙂