What Do You Need to Apply to Medical School?

One of the biggest things that I suggest to pre-med students is to get medical experience.

What are some useful things medical school applicants can do to make their applications stronger? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

One of the biggest things that I suggest to pre-med students is to get medical experience. Med school admissions committees want to ensure that students have a realistic idea of what a career in medicine will be like. Therefore, you should talk with doctors frankly about the profession and observe their daily routine. You might want to consider job shadowing or volunteering. You could also get medical expertise by becoming a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), or even working as a hospital scribe.

You should also try to get research experience, because many medical schools put a heavy emphasis on research. By already having that experience under your belt, the admissions committee will look on that favorable. You might also form close relationships with faculty mentors when working in the lab, who could serve as your mentors.

Service experiences outside of the clinic are an excellent way to show that you are willing to give back to the community and display your empathic side. Med schools want to see that you have the drive to give back to the greater good of society, and you can do so by giving back to an organization you are passionate about. For example, you could volunteer at an animal shelter, work with under-represented children, deliver companionship to seniors living in nursing homes, or work with those who have been affected by domestic abuse.

But, your application needs to be more than just a listing of those experiences. It needs to convey what sets you apart from the other thousands of applicants. Don’t neglect talking about what makes you unique, even if it isn’t a science or health-based club or extracurricular. Having outside interests and highlighting them in your application can be helpful because it gives the admissions committee something to relate to. If you have played in a band for seven years, or served as the team captain on the run club in college, those can be an excellent example to show the committee that you are committed and having interests outside of school. You don’t need to join as many clubs as possible. Instead, it is better to have a few deep and long-lasting experiences than participate in ten different clubs.

If you have foreign language skills, especially Spanish, that can be a useful thing to highlight. If you are thinking about studying abroad, I encourage you to do so! It allows you to learn a new language and culture. Medical schools like to see students that have challenged themselves by broadening their viewpoints culturally. You could also consider volunteering at a medical volunteer program abroad.

A critical piece of the application is your personal statement. Take the time to highlight your accomplishments and be proud of what you have achieved! Make sure to show the impact of your experiences on both yourself and others. The personal statement is your one chance to showcase your personality to the admissions committee. Use each word wisely to show your experiences, and pick out specific moments to display why you deserve a coveted spot at the medical school.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

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