By Amit Patel, MD
Getting into medical school requires more than just getting stellar grades and good MCAT scores. Many students perform hours of volunteer work or scientific research in the hopes of convincing the admissions committee of their commitment to helping others. However, there exist many other avenues which demonstrate your work ethic and personality to the admissions committee. I will discuss three examples of how you can stand out from the crowd by combining your hobby with medicine.
Combine Art and Medicine.
Are you blessed with artistic ability? Great! Use your gift to help others while improving your application. If you have an interest in painting, photograph or drawing, contact the local hospital or clinic and volunteer to donate your art. Hospitals and clinics would love to decorate their bare walls with uplifting work. Studies have even found artwork in the hospital has “positive effects not only on patient well being but also on health outcome such as length of stay in hospital and pain tolerance.” To the admissions committee, this demonstrates creativity, leadership and altruism – all great qualities in a future doctor.
Use Technology to help others.
Maybe your strong suit involves technology. Put your love of the computer to good use by starting a blog. Find a small medical niche that you are interested in and update the blog with links and summaries of the links related to that particular medical issue. For example, you can choose to follow juvenile diabetes and can start by linking articles related to treatment, experiences and recent breakthroughs. Not only will you be helping individuals and their families suffering from that disease, you will learn as well. In one year, you will have read 365 articles related to that disease, making you quite an expert. Medical school admissions committee will be impressed with your creativity, dedication and passion.
Travel and medicine.
If traveling is your passion, use your time while traveling to spend some time in the local clinic or hospital. Do your due diligence before traveling and find a clinic which will let you shadow while you are there. Talk to their patients and health care staff. Document your experience by keeping a diary and by taking pictures. Remember to respect patient and employee privacy. Often times, your help will be much appreciated and you will get to experience healthcare in other countries. Talking about your experience during medical school interviews will set you apart from the rest of the applicants.
These are just three ways to incorporate your interest in healthcare with your other passions. Think outside the box, and I am sure you will find something unique to you and your interests. Not only will this make you stand out from the crowd, it may even ignite a lifelong passion. Good luck!