Guest Post: Things to Get Involved with While in Med School
Choosing to go to medical school is a big decision. It takes a lot of hard work, involvement and your absolute determination to get through it with high achievements. The medical field, specifically landing a good residency, is highly competitive. This means that simply getting good grades won’t cut it if you want to be the best. There are a lot of different things to get involved with while you are still doing your degree.
I’ll be honest, med school already takes up a lot of time but getting involved with other things while still performing well definitely shows your future employers that you have excellent time management skills.
Signing up for seminars or participating in workshops is a good way to add meaningful things to your resume. These courses are usually one or a few sessions at most, so it is completely doable alongside your demanding schedule. It also shows that you are passionate about your future and are proactive in getting ahead of the curve. Many universities suggest seminars or workshops that students can participate in and some of them are even for credits! Is definitely a very good use of your time.
Workshops and seminars are usually accessible for a low price and they teach you a lot of practical information that you wouldn’t otherwise receive during your degree. There are all sorts of workshops you can take, from very specific aspects of being a healthcare professional like keeping up to date on the new technology, to practical information such as CV building or time management/organization skills.
Contrary to popular belief, medical school is not a toxic environment. It is a lot more cooperative than it is competitive. Things get highly competitive once you leave, but while you are still in school, people want you to learn. Building good relationships with your peers as well as with the faculty is highly beneficial.
Your peers are one day going to be your colleagues and the faculty will help you through difficulties that you may face. If you need a mentor, a letter of recommendation, or advice on career moves, the faculty is who you turn to. Medical school is tough and your superiors know it. They want you to succeed and help you achieve your goals. Take advantage of this great opportunity to get to know accomplished individuals from the field and keep in touch with them after you’ve left.
As for your peers, those relationships and being involved are incredibly important. They make your time at med school more bearable and help keep you sane through long nights of studying. As a medical professional you have to be personable and empathetic. If your future employers see that you’ve made good connections during your time at med school, they know you have the social skills that come with the job.
Med school is very demanding, but if you are able to get involved with part-time volunteer work, it will look fantastic on your resume. Volunteering at a local old people’s home, for example, will give you an opportunity to make connections with the nurses and physicians who work there.
Volunteering is also a great way to give you a test run of what it’s like to work with vulnerable members of society. This gives you a head start over other med students as you gain a lot of first-hand experience and get to see what working in care facilities is actually like.
When employers see volunteer work on a candidate’s resume, they take note of it. Volunteering stands out because it shows that you care about less fortunate people and are passionate enough about what you do that you are willing to work for free. Volunteer work shows empathy, dedication, and passion, all of which are qualities employers in health care look for.
A physician shadow program is something that most med students have to go through. The advice here is to get it done as early as you can and try your best to have a good relationship with your mentor. You will work closely with your physician and if you manage to create a good rapport with them, it will benefit you in ways that can make or break your career.
Getting a letter of recommendation from your physician will take you far, and if you manage to have a good relationship, you can go to them for career advice and even a recommendation for a residency program. My advice is, get interested in the shadow program as early as you can to ensure you’re at the front of the line when the selection process begins.
The dropout rate for medical school is high for a reason. It is an incredibly demanding course that comes with constant, round-the-clock work. If you remain organized and master time management, you can absolutely do it. Getting involved with extracurriculars is a bonus that will really help with future employment.
The key is to keep your GPA up, master the MCAT, polish off your personal statement (several times), submit your AMCAS / AACOMAS, get your secondaries in on time, complete a physician shadowing program, and nail the interview. Make sure to make good connections and show off your hard work and diligence. If you do all of these, you will be golden.
Keep your head up future doctors, there is no work that is more rewarding. It will all be worth it one day!