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Dr.Mash

How ECs allow medical aptitude judgment?

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For those of you guys and gals, who would like to practice MCAT writing, or just share your opinion :)

 

Why, do you think, the medical schools give so much attention to extracurricular activities when assessing applicants. How does this allow them to match the applicants' abilities to the medicine-specific abilities, such as the ability to see body parts, to take biopsies, to work with blood, to take specimens, and to do other not so much neat stuff. It's sometimes difficult to imagine when seeing photos of young med students on the school websites how they wouldn't freak out at the scene of, say, an autopsy.

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Why, do you think, the medical schools give so much attention to extracurricular activities when assessing applicants. How does this allow them to match the applicants' abilities to the medicine-specific abilities, such as the ability to see body parts, to take biopsies, to work with blood, to take specimens, and to do other not so much neat stuff. It's sometimes difficult to imagine when seeing photos of young med students on the school websites how they wouldn't freak out at the scene of, say, an autopsy.

Hi there,

 

As alluded to above, some medical schools that use extracurricular activities in their selection process are probably going on the assumption that a broad set of experiences outside of academics may better prepare you to deal with the broad spectrum of people who you will see as a doctor. For example, a person who has traveled widely, worked extensively, and who perhaps has played team sports, etc., may be better equipped to interact with patients who are reformed crack addicts who have regressed and done something regrettably silly or those others who may not have showered in a couple of months, may be cognitively impaired and are requiring a work-up for chest pain. Limited experiences outside of academia may not provide as rich a background from which a person can draw to deal with these (and the myriad other) unique interactions that you encounter in medicine.

 

Cheers,

Kirsteen

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the medicine-specific abilities, such as the ability to see body parts, to take biopsies, to work with blood, to take specimens, and to do other not so much neat stuff. It's sometimes difficult to imagine when seeing photos of young med students on the school websites how they wouldn't freak out at the scene of, say, an autopsy.

 

The "not so much neat stuff" is not the hardest part of med school ;) They ease you in gradually, & I've never heard of anyone being unable to adjust to it.

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How does this allow them to match the applicants' abilities to the medicine-specific abilities, such as the ability to see body parts, to take biopsies, to work with blood, to take specimens, and to do other not so much neat stuff.
The easiest way to look at this is: what are the skills that students need to master by the end of medical school to be competent physicians? In Canada, we typically use the CanMeds competencies: Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Manager, Health Advocate, Scholar and Professional.

 

When applicants are being assessed for medical school, the assessment process (presumably) identifies applicants that will be able to develop all of these competencies. In your original comment, you referred to a background that will help applicants be able to be a Medical Expert. The other roles are just as important, and you can easily see how EC's can be useful to assess someone's ability to develop the other competencies.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Dr.Mash

How does this allow them to match the applicants' abilities to the medicine-specific abilities, such as the ability to see body parts, to take biopsies, to work with blood, to take specimens, and to do other not so much neat stuff.

 

 

Dr. Mash,

 

An overwhelming part of medicine is communication - with patients, staff, and colleagues. There are few specialities where it's only about "taking biopsies, working with blood" and etc. - in fact, those are primarily the Pathology/Laboratory Medicine specialties that require almost no contact with patients.

 

On the other hand, in almost any other speciality, whether surgical or medical, a doctors main priority to is to listen to patient and assess their medical and needs then address them in a patient-centered manner. In addition, as Peachy highlighted, physicians are often called upon to be teachers, administrators, and boardmembers, etc.

 

Any and all extracurricular activities that help you build character, leadershipskills, communication skills, and greater awareness of community/diversity is very important to demonstrating that you are at least interested or capable of adopting some of those roles outlined by CanMeds. This is important during both the medical school application process and also the residency application process.

 

And just to add, I think that the emphasis on extracurriculars and academics is quite balanced at most schools. If you have a 4.0 and no extracurriculars, then get cracking and prove to yourself and to others that you're not just going to be an encylopedia, but rather a physician to your patients.

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The "not so much neat stuff" is not the hardest part of med school ;) They ease you in gradually, & I've never heard of anyone being unable to adjust to it.

Hi there,

 

Actually, in some situations, there's little "easing in" at all and some folk get a bit of a shock. Two examples: 1) our first day of cadaver lab and we weren't primed that we were actually going to go down and see whole-body cadavers. One person in our class had a vasovagal reaction and collapsed, skull-first, on the floor; 2) during a first-year Blood rotation (the first rotation of the curriculum) we were taken in a group of 5 to see a bone marrow biopsy. Three of us turned a bit grey and I have to admit that I was the one who staggered (with help) to the bathroom to go and lie on the floor for a while. You do get used to this after a while as I've since pronounced patients dead and done a few bone marrow biopsies without losing colour, but it can be shocking at first.

 

Cheers,

Kirsteen

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oh i rememberthat first day in the anatomy lab very vividly... there were a few of us who felt a little lightheaded.

i would like to add that, along with whatever was mentioned above, having a wide range of extracurriculars shows that you can balance doing well with school with interests outside the classroom. once you're in med school, it gets so much harder to maintain a good life-work balance even though its so important to have a life outside of med school to keep you grounded and sane. EC's are a good way for adcoms to judge how well you can handle balancing activities with school work.

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Hi there,

 

Actually, in some situations, there's little "easing in" at all and some folk get a bit of a shock. Two examples: 1) our first day of cadaver lab and we weren't primed that we were actually going to go down and see whole-body cadavers. One person in our class had a vasovagal reaction and collapsed, skull-first, on the floor; 2) during a first-year Blood rotation (the first rotation of the curriculum) we were taken in a group of 5 to see a bone marrow biopsy. Three of us turned a bit grey and I have to admit that I was the one who staggered (with help) to the bathroom to go and lie on the floor for a while. You do get used to this after a while as I've since pronounced patients dead and done a few bone marrow biopsies without losing colour, but it can be shocking at first.

 

Cheers,

Kirsteen

 

 

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it was never hard/ people never passed out. Just that I've never heard of someone quitting med school or not being a good physician because they couldn't adjust to it. (Hence it probably not being a major concern for the admin commitee when choosing students). Maybe it happens & I've just never heard about it though!

 

Also, even though many of us felt uneasy during the first day of anatomy lab, we were totally eased into it. We had a long lecture beforehand about what to expect, what to do if we didn't feel well, and how we should totally take a seat to rest whenever we wanted. They told us breakfast was a must & that we should look around our classmates faces to see if anyone looked unwell, etc. :). During my session at least, everyone seemed to do ok.

 

The easing in must vary from school to school, & maybe they learned after a few incidents of students collapsing that it's important to take it slow. Hopefully, anyways! Of course, I haven't gone through clerkship yet, maybe in a few yrs I'll be able to tell the tale of how I collapsed during surgery:p

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Hi there,

 

As alluded to above, some medical schools that use extracurricular activities in their selection process are probably going on the assumption that a broad set of experiences outside of academics may better prepare you to deal with the broad spectrum of people who you will see as a doctor. For example, a person who has traveled widely, worked extensively, and who perhaps has played team sports, etc., may be better equipped to interact with patients who are reformed crack addicts who have regressed and done something regrettably silly or those others who may not have showered in a couple of months, may be cognitively impaired and are requiring a work-up for chest pain. Limited experiences outside of academia may not provide as rich a background from which a person can draw to deal with these (and the myriad other) unique interactions that you encounter in medicine.

 

Cheers,

Kirsteen

 

Kirsteen I wholeheartedly agree with you, although I hope that "travelling widely" doesn't play such an important role, since that seems to be dependent on income. It's true that students can fundraise for trips to Africa (for example) for charity-related work, but that can be difficult for someone who is already juggling school/EC's/research/work.

 

I hope that being involved in alot of diverse activities is more important than how much one has travelled. Although I see your point about how travelling can increase that diversity.

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Experiences are valuable because of what you learned from them. Traveling widely can be an asset because people often learn important lessons from these experiences. At the same time, someone can learn equally important life lessons by working a part-time job to pay off their loans. In this way, people who cannot afford to travel to different places are not at a disadvantage as long as they can talk about their own experiences and how they've been shaped by these experiences.

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