An impressive medical school application carries a good MCAT score and a high GPA. While these two factors are primarily considered the most important student assessment metrics, the medical knowledge gained through relevant clinical and research experience also makes an application stand out.
Here is a list of tips that can help students gain valuable clinical and research experience before starting their medical career path.
1. Choose wisely from the wide range of opportunities available
Opportunities that can qualify as valid clinical experience can be both - paid as well as volunteer service. Some common examples of paid positions include emergency room assistants, practical nurses, pharmacy assistants and phlebotomists. Most paid positions involve work that is conducted inside the hospital and require various licenses too. The good news is that, these jobs are not time-demanding and can be easily be done along with regular undergrad classes.
Students with no formal training in the medical field may opt for volunteer work that is still counted as valid clinical experience. Volunteering may not necessarily involve work inside a health center. Internships and participation in support programs in medical centers, hospices, assisted-living homes and emergency departments are some of the options worth exploring. Another common opportunity is to shadow a known physician and gain guided patient care knowledge and experience.
2. Focus on the ultimate goal of obtaining clinical experience
MCAT exam prep courses prepare students academically to shine in the field of health care. Clinical experience teaches students about the life of a medical professional and their everyday interactions with their patients. Thus, through the course of the clinical work, students must be prepared psychologically for the career and garner valuable insights which can be shared during the interview process.
Quick Tip: Clinical opportunities must not be simply taken as another exam requirement but must be considered as the best chance to understand the essence of the medical profession.
3. Approach professors for research assistant positions
Research experience is not mandatory for the medical application but is considered to be of high value by the admission committee. The best way to obtain research experience is to look for assistant roles with the science professors in school. If the positions have already been filled, students can request professor for references with their colleagues. If the university offers summer programs that are research based, grab it without a second thought.
4. Be prepared with all basic information about the research
Not every research ends with a detailed published paper. However, students who were a part of the research will be expected to know the basic background of the research, the methodologies used and the inferences drawn. The admission committee would be keen to learn the role of the student in the research and questions around the research experience will form a significant part of the medical interview. Experts recommend student to be prepared with a brief account or presentation about the research along with all details and a valid conclusion.