The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

Podcast 77: Guide to Extra-Curricular Activities as a Pre-Med


How many hours of extracurricular activities do you need to be a competitive applicant to medical school? After working with hundreds of students, Dr. Renee Marinelli knows that there isn’t one specific amount that works for everyone. As explained in this episode, it’s all about quality over quantity.

[1:43] What we know.

Most pre-medical students will have several different categories of extracurricular activates, and it’s understood that admissions committees expect you to have a few of these to be competitive. You should have research, physician shadowing, a clinical activity, community service, and a leadership activity.

[2:33] MSAR data.

Looking at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine, 97% of their matriculants had research, 90% had medical work, 84% had physician shadowing, and 83% had community service. As you can see, most successful applicants have these experiences.

[4:39] Community service.

At a minimum, the University of Utah expected thirty-six hours of community service to be completed, and an average of one hundred hours within the last four years. Dr. Marinelli thinks that this number is quite low, so she recommends getting involved in an activity early on that you can continue for several years.

[7:16] Leadership.

The University of Utah says that applicants should have one leadership experience at minimum within the last four years, and an average of three. Dr. Marinelli finds three to be a difficult number to hit, but again, it’s all about quality.

[9:05] Research.

At a minimum, the University of Utah says you should have some research experience where you were part of a class and tested a hypothesis. On average, their applicants will have a hypothesis-based research project that is supervised by a PhD or someone with research credentials. This is pretty typical of what Dr. Marinelli sees.

[11:52] Physician shadowing.

The minimum from the University of Utah is eight hours, and the average is twenty-four hours. Dr. Marinelli usually sees somewhere between fifty to one hundred hours, which she believes is sufficient.

[13:05] Clinical experience.

The University of Utah says that the minimum is thirty-two hours and the average is forty-eight. This is a little low; Dr. Marinelli thinks most applicants will have over two hundred hours.

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