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UBC requirements - Non academic/ extracurricular

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What types of non-academic/ extracurricular work does UBC like to see on your application? And how much of it?

If I did decide to pursue a career in medicine I would be applying next year. I've just started volunteering at a therapeutic horseback ridding facility, where we give riding lessons to children and young adults who have chronic physical and/ or mental illnesses. I am also a competitive equestrian, and I have been for the last ten years (I've heard that UBC likes it if you're involved in a sport?).

All of my past jobs have involved working in horse barns, where I have been everything from a working student (and learning from FEI level trainers) to being an assistant coach for children's lessons.

Through all of my horsey experiences I would be able to explain on my application that, through working with horses, I have developed patience, perseverance, empathy, confidence, and the ability to take initiative and be a leader.

I know that some people get involved in research for their med application, but is that really necessary? I've read that UBC doesn't seem to mind what volunteer/ non-academic work you've done, just as long as you can show how it's shaped you and how you developed leadership skills. Is this true?

Would it be a good idea for me to get some experience in more of a hospital setting?

All opinions and comments would be greatly appreciated!

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First off, I feel that I must add a disclaimer (which you are likely already aware of) ... I don’t think there is a magic combination that UBC is looking for. Yes, there is some general information, as well as the canMEDS framework, but at the end of the day I truly believe it does come down to how you present your EC’s on the application. To use your example, I am sure you could pull examples from your activities with horses that demonstrate commitment, empathy, scholarship, life-long learning etc etc. Where I think it gets a bit tricky with UBC is that their application only allows you to say so much for each entry. So you potentially need to find a way to get creative and highlight all of the skills you have gained from your experiences.

There are likely some experiences that at first glance might not seem the most important to you, but they very well may add an important quality to your application. In summary, I think strategy and presentation is as (or maybe even more) important as what you have done. To add some more context, there are literally thousands of applicants every cycle, so you have to make it as easy as possible for whoever reviews your application to get a clear picture of who you are. I think this is why the advice to “do something you are interested in” is so relevant, because it naturally follows that you will be passionate in your description and presentation. Again, think of how many applicants have similar experiences (hospital volunteering, research, clubs etc), so you have to find a way to stand out somehow.

With respect to hospital volunteering, I do think it is important if you are not completely sure what exactly working in healthcare is like. Many people have had direct healthcare experiences themselves or through family who have been sick and in my opinion that is just as (or even more) valuable. So in those instances, I don’t feel that volunteering just for the sake of adding it to their resume is necessary.

I hope ultimately I am giving you some reassurance that whatever you have done, or will do before you write your application, the “qualities” will all very likely be there, but it’s up to you to make a great impression! Good luck!

 

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3 hours ago, ATG4B said:

With respect to hospital volunteering, I do think it is important if you are not completely sure what exactly working in healthcare is like. Many people have had direct healthcare experiences themselves or through family who have been sick and in my opinion that is just as (or even more) valuable. So in those instances, I don’t feel that volunteering just for the sake of adding it to their resume is necessary.

I'd +1 absolutely everything @ATG4B said, ^^ this especially. Unlike what I understand about AMCAS, there's no required hours of shadowing which is both great not to shoehorn people into activities but also funny since you could theoretically get accepted without having ever set foot in a hospital or clinic or other area where you'll spending so many years of your life. Granted I still think it's better since their assessment process will still produce good, hard working physician candidates at the end of the day without making anyone do any kind of forced labour. 

On a larger note, definitely let your application represent who you are. I remember switching years ago from the conventional pre-med activity circuit to focusing on endeavors in which I truly believed and got a lot out of - that made all the difference for my own satisfaction as well as for animating my application. Depending on where you are in your degree, research and hospital stuff could be helpful for your own interest; medicine has obviously been built on centuries of science so having an appreciation for that could be really meaningful. Med programs accept all manner of folk from all sorts of background experiences so don't preclude yourself for not fitting a certain mold. Your horsey-ness could be a real asset. ;)

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14 hours ago, ohimark said:

Unlike what I understand about AMCAS, there's no required hours of shadowing which is both great not to shoehorn people into activities but also funny since you could theoretically get accepted without having ever set foot in a hospital or clinic or other area where you'll spending so many years of your life.

I've always found it a bit strange that there is any expectation for medical program applicants to have shadowing experience.

First, student going into any other profession are not expected to shadow as a prerequisite to entry to their educational program. Could you imagine if future engineers, teachers, accountants, lawyers, astronauts, writers, chefs (etc..) were expected to seek out a mentor in their desired field and shadow under them before even being accepted into the program where they learn the skills for that profession. Yet many schools expect this of future doctors. Not everyone has access to physicians they can shadow, as many of these connections are founded in relationship and personal interest in the future of that doctor; a reality that is not available to many.

Secondly, medicine is such a varied field. The areas and type of work is unlimited. You can work in everything from policy, to media, to research, to technology, to government, to ethics, to the more traditional clinical and hospital settings. I think, as a student, going into a program/field assuming you know what you will enjoy most is dangerous. You may be blinded to an area of your field that is truly your love - missing your true call. Shadowing a physician in a clinic is only a small fraction of the type of work that is possible for someone with an MD. If students believe that scenario is the only possible representation of their future work it could close them off to other amazing possibilities.

Personally, I'm grateful it is not a requirement for UBC Med.

Side note: It is PAINFULLY slow at work right now. The week before D-Day. Such bad timing to be in front of a computer all day with nothing to do. Ugh. 

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