The Importance of Volunteering
Along with considering your academic abilities, medical school admissions committees want to see that potential students are well rounded individuals. Taking part in extra-curricular activities is mandatory and extremely important for gaining valuable points in your application.
Some medical schools allow applicants to list activities that are done after the age of 16, others require that the activities are post high school. Specifically, UBC requires applicants to list activities in the following categories: leadership, service ethic, capacity to work with others, diversity of experience and high performance in an area of human endeavour. The admissions committee ranks activities with long term commitment where applicants showcase a higher degree of responsibility higher than short term commitments with a minimal degree of responsibility. Also the UBC admissions committee stresses that no preference is given to volunteer or extra-curricular work done abroad compared to work that was undertaken locally. So although travel is a great experience that adds significant diversity to your application it is not an absolute requirement to get into medical school.
One possible way to take part in these activities is by volunteering. This volunteer experience does not have to be medically related in anyway. It can be however to see whether or not you would even like a career in medicine. It should be an activity that you genuinely enjoy doing and allows you to make a statement about the type of person that you are. Volunteering allows one to gain diverse life experiences by working with a wide range of individuals. This will not only improve your non-academic score, it will also open your eyes to the different opportunities available in your community and elsewhere, in case your goal of medical school does not end up working out. Overall volunteering is a great way to gain a variety of new life experiences that will allow you to grow and develop different skills that will be useful to you.
Extracurricular activities are not strictly limited to volunteer positions. Paid positions and work experience may also be included on your medical school application. Having an executive position as a member of the many student run clubs or associations found at UFV is another way to get involved with the school and other students.
Each activity that is listed on your application requires the contact information of a “verifier” that may be contacted at any time after your application has been sent in. This is to confirm your involvement in a particular activity. Be sure to contact your verifier ahead of sending in your application to ensure that you are both on the same page regarding the length of involvement and the responsibilities that you had.
Remember, take part in activities that challenge and stimulate you! It is so much more important to spend time doing activities that you enjoy rather than doing something that a medical school committee may perceive to be important. Take part in something that you are passionate about and is meaningful to you. These are the activities that you will have the most fun doing and will have an easier time discussing when it comes time to put them on your application.
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