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I don’t think it’s necessary to add another volunteer commitment if you have three substantial ones. Better to show a high level of commitment to three that’d spread yourself thin. Here are my thoughts:

- have you grown in your volunteer roles? If not is it possible to expand your responsibilities/leadership? For example, could you get involved with training new volunteers, scheduling, or planning events?

- were all your boxes full? I included some things in diversity of experience like music and hiking which I’ve done at a high level, but certainly not competitively or professionally. Even activities that don’t seem like application material should be included if you have space left over.

- did you have people read over your application? Did you allude to CANMed competencies? Did you quantify your accomplishments? (I.e. ‘I led a team of 21 people to run a fundraiser that raised $2300’). A lot of NAQ can come from wording.

 

A masters is good for getting research experience, but otherwise not a very efficient way to improve your application. Can you find a research job now in your 4th year? Or ask a prof if you can volunteer in their lab if no jobs are available?

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I strongly agree with every single point @OwnerOfTheTARDIS has mentioned.  Since you are less than 3 points away from the cutoff, you're very close!  A lot of improvement (up to maybe 10 points or more) can be done with the NAQ if you've carefully worded your description.  Having said that, don't rely only on your descriptions to raise your NAQ.  I've often seen over and over again that when people seem like they've "plateaued" on their application (compared to the previous year), their NAQs drop like no tomorrow.  Definitely push yourself to do more as you fill this gap year.  Doing more doesn't necessarily have to involve doing more/different activities.  It can definitely include specializing in your current activities.  For example for me, I went from a regular ER volunteer at my hospital, to the lead ER volunteer trainer, to suggesting improvements to the ER volunteering program and coordinating things.  Or in case of my volunteering with St. John Ambulance, I went from a regular volunteer to an Advanced Medical First Responder to being the Divisional Administration Officer at my branch.  So, see how you can grow within your activities and put yourself out of your comfort zone.  However, always be consciously aware of your personal physical and mental health.  Don't sacrifice too much of your personal time that you start feeling burned out.

As a result, a Master's program is really not necessary in my opinion, but then again, that's completely your call.  If there's a program out there that you really love, why not go for it?  But be aware that you'll need to complete it before you enrol in a medical program (at least for UBC).  If there's specific stuff you need help with, feel free to PM me :).

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