Is it mandatory to have some clinical experience before attending a medical school? What type of clinical experience you should gain? These are the most common questions many premed students ask before applying to medical school. Many medical school admissions committees look for students with strong clinical experience.
An outstanding GPA and MCAT score are the most important admission prerequisites, but in the end, you should know how to treat patients. Gaining clinical experience beforehand shows the admissions committees that you have passions and commitment to the field of medicine. Getting an early exposure in a clinical setting will make your medical school application stand out from the rest and increase your chances of acceptance. Clinical experience for medical school helps students to actively engage with patients and provide excellent patient care.
In this post, you will find why medical school hopefuls should invest their time in finding clinical opportunities, volunteer work and shadowing jobs before starting your medical school journey. Let’s explore:
Why is Clinical Experience Important for Premedical Students?
Being a physician isn’t just about having stellar GPA and MCAT scores. In order to become a good doctor, you have to interact with patients, provide excellent patient care, collaborate with the healthcare team, and contribute to the betterment of the society. This is why many medical schools give much emphasis on clinical and research experiences. Here are some top reasons why premedical students should gain clinical experience before applying to medical school:
– Help You Get into a Medical School
Whether you have just started your undergraduate degree or a senior working on your medical school application, gaining some sort of clinical experience is critically important to gain a spot in a top Caribbean medical school. It shows the admissions committees that you have interest in the field of medicine and has gained real-life clinical experience. Admissions committees will definitely be impressed if you provide proof of your clinical experiences.
– Develop Important Skills
As a future physician, having first-hand experience of patient assessment and interaction will better prepare you to deal with the requirements of the profession. It gives you a clear idea whether the medical profession is well-suited for your personality. In addition, clinical experiences help you polish your communication, teamwork, organizational and other important skills required for the medical profession.
For instance, interacting with patients will improve your communication and patient assessment skills. Working in a high-pressure clinical environment such as an emergency ward or operation room, will hone your ability to work under pressure and maintain emotional stability in difficult situations.
– Collect Letters of Recommendation
Working in different clinical settings will not only help you develop important skills but also build strong relationships with physicians, residents, and the healthcare team. It will help you collect letters of recommendation from physicians, surgeons and other team members. Many medical schools ask for two to three letters of recommendation. Gaining meaningful experience in different fields will help you broaden your experience and build a network of doctors, residents, and medical students.
– Provide Hands-on Experience
Working in different clinical settings allows you to get ideal hands-on experience that you can add to your medical school application. You can add observational experience such as taking vital readings, drawing blood and interacting with patients. Early clinical exposure and interacting with patients can help you understand that the medical field is right for you.
How to Find Clinical Experience Opportunities?
Finding a suitable career opportunity is no easy feat, however, with proper research and planning, you can choose some better clinical opportunities. There are some easy ways to gain clinical experience for medical school.
- Do In-Depth Research
When it comes to gaining clinical experience for medical school, finding the right opportunity is the key. Saying yes for any random extracurricular activity doesn’t work. Medical school hopefuls need to perform in-depth research to land the suitable role. The ultimate goal of gaining clinical experience is to get a clear understanding of the medical profession. Choose opportunities that can help you gain the meaningful experiences and skills required to gain admission into a medical school.
- Explore Popular Options
When it comes to choosing clinical opportunities, make sure to explore all the available options. Premedical students can apply for the following positions to gain clinical experience for medical school:
- Health professional’s assistant
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN)
- Volunteer Emergency Medical Technician
- Medical scribe
- Personal caretaker
- Medical assistant
- Hospice or Nursing Volunteer
- Mental Health Volunteer
Reach out to Hospitals and Clinics
Once you figure out all the available clinical opportunities, now it’s time to think how to access them. You can apply for different volunteer opportunities in hospitals and clinics. There are opportunities available in rehabilitation centers, long-term care homes, medical centers and laboratories. No matter which venue you choose to gain clinical experience for medical experience, the key is to choose the role that emphasizes clinical duties and patient interactions.
Understand Different Types of Clinical Experience
There are two types of clinical experience – paid and unpaid. Many hospitals, clinics and medical centers offer volunteer opportunities, physician shadowing opportunities, internship programs and assistantship opportunities for premed students. You can check the websites of hospitals or ask your faculty members, premed advisor or alumni, if they know of any opportunity for you.
Taking volunteer opportunities allows you to complete administration tasks, build connections and network with important healthcare members. You will perform hands-on clinical duties that will give you more clinical experience.
There are also paid clinical opportunities available in hospitals and clinical settings. Unfortunately, many premed students find it difficult to pursue paid opportunities due to time constraints, as they are already jampacked with fulfilling the requirements of the medical school admission timelines. In addition, performing clinical duties without much qualifications, certifications and advanced skills.
How Many Hours of Clinical Experience are Necessary?
Since there are no specific requirements of hours of clinical experience for medical school. The key is to gain good quality experience that can improve your skills and knowledge in the field. Try to at least get 100 hours or more to increase your chances of acceptance. You can ask the admissions committees of the desired school for the specific hours. It is advised to focus on quality over quantity and try to make the most of your time by gaining useful experience.
Getting clinical experience is the most important part of your medical school application process. It will show the admissions committees that you are a competitive applicant and dedicated to the path of medicine. Hopefully, this post will help you better understand the importance of gaining early clinical exposure and get an idea of day to day demands of a medical career.