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Extracurricular Proof & Verification


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I'm not too familiar with the extracurricular and volunteering portion of medical school applications and I'm wondering how many (if not all) of the activities or jobs you list need to be backed up with a reference with contact information or verifiable hours worked? I have always been quite active in clubs, organizations, and extracurriculars in my free time but haven't previously felt the need to "document" my time or contributions since I was there for the heck of it. For future reference, do you guys have a way of documenting and proving your involvement in a past activity for the applications a few years down the road? I've never tracked my hours nor have I ever asked my supervisors for LORs. I may be forgetful or even a little embarrassed myself to ask for these things (especially if I was volunteering) and I was wondering what approach I should take in the future? To be honest, I have forgotten the names of some of my past colleagues due to the shear time I've been away and I'm sure some of them only have a faint memory of me haha.

 

Thanks in advance!

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You need verifiers for any activity and all activities you decide to put on a medical school application. In the case of UofA, all of your verifiers (up to 16 depending on how slots you fill in the activities section) will be contacted or provide a reference form for you.

Hours don’t  have to be tracked down to the minute. Med schools don’t care whether you did 200 hours or 203 hours. As long as you have an approximate idea and whoever your verifier is agrees that the approximation is a good representation of how many hours you actually put in, then it’s fine to put that down in your application.

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6 hours ago, zxcccxz said:

You need verifiers for any activity and all activities you decide to put on a medical school application. In the case of UofA, all of your verifiers (up to 16 depending on how slots you fill in the activities section) will be contacted or provide a reference form for you.

Hours don’t  have to be tracked down to the minute. Med schools don’t care whether you did 200 hours or 203 hours. As long as you have an approximate idea and whoever your verifier is agrees that the approximation is a good representation of how many hours you actually put in, then it’s fine to put that down in your application.

Thanks for the tips! Getting a reference form/letter should be easiest when you're still involved or just after you've left. Can those stand in as verification or are they not too useful if written before a certain date? I'm just wondering how all of you keep in touch with supervisors from 4 or 5 years ago ... even though I formed relationships and made quite an impression I'm sure that won't last long in the larger corporations or government programs as people come and go. If the schools called my "references" they probably won't even know who I am given that was years ago and my supervisor was likely replaced. Also, I'm guessing hobbies are the only things that don't need a backup? Maybe bring a guitar to the interview in case they question your abilities and you need to play a song for them lol

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19 hours ago, Canadian MED said:

Thanks for the tips! Getting a reference form/letter should be easiest when you're still involved or just after you've left. Can those stand in as verification or are they not too useful if written before a certain date? I'm just wondering how all of you keep in touch with supervisors from 4 or 5 years ago ... even though I formed relationships and made quite an impression I'm sure that won't last long in the larger corporations or government programs as people come and go. If the schools called my "references" they probably won't even know who I am given that was years ago and my supervisor was likely replaced. Also, I'm guessing hobbies are the only things that don't need a backup? Maybe bring a guitar to the interview in case they question your abilities and you need to play a song for them lol

Reference letters can't be written in advance. When you apply, you will give the contact info of your referees directly to the med school and they will contact them directly for a reference (you are not allowed to see references). References also do not stand in for verifiers, they are in addition to verifiers.

If you are a mature applicant it certainly can be difficult to keep in touch with supervisors for years ago, but if you did something worthwhile, I'm sure they'll remember you. Otherwise, even if they don't remember you, as long as there is a record within that organization of you having done the work, they should be able to verify for you regardless. 

You don't need a backup for hobbies some of the time. Like for example, if you like knitting in your free time, obviously you don't need a verify. But for example, if you love playing the piano, and you are nationally ranked or have competed at a very high level, then you could surely find a verifier. But the reason you don't ask you to verify low-level hobbies is cause they honestly don't matter (they don't care enough to verify because you playing some guitar for fun doesn't really help your application in any way). You need to have achieved something in that area for it to significantly benefit your application, in which case you should be able to find a verifier.

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2 hours ago, zxcccxz said:

Reference letters can't be written in advance. When you apply, you will give the contact info of your referees directly to the med school and they will contact them directly for a reference (you are not allowed to see references). References also do not stand in for verifiers, they are in addition to references. 

If you are a mature applicant it certainly can be difficult to keep in touch with supervisors for years ago, but if you did something worthwhile, I'm sure they'll remember you. Otherwise, even if they don't remember you, as long as there is a record within that organization of you having done the work, they should be able to verify for you regardless. 

You don't need a backup for hobbies some of the time. Like for example, if you like knitting in your free time, obviously you don't need a verify. But for example, if you love playing the piano, and you are nationally ranked or have competed at a very high level, then you could surely find a verifier. But the reason you don't ask you to verify low-level hobbies is cause they honestly don't matter (they don't care enough to verify because you playing some guitar for fun doesn't really help your application in any way). You need to have achieved something in that area for it to significantly benefit your application, in which case you should be able to find a verifier.

Well that takes some of the fun out of extracurriculars haha. Didn’t know applications are so strict! All of the organizations I’ve been apart of have an electronic copy of my involvement somewhere in their system; is that enough? I’m guessing they value “personal positive feedback” directly from supervisors but I doubt they’ll get any. I worked in S&R a year ago and was under the supervision of 4 different people in the 4 months I was there. The only people that could possibly speak deeply about me are my coworker friends, do they count as references/verifiers or do they need to be above your certain rank? Guess I’ll try and form some newer connections in the future!

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30 minutes ago, Canadian MED said:

Well that takes some of the fun out of extracurriculars haha. Didn’t know applications are so strict! All of the organizations I’ve been apart of have an electronic copy of my involvement somewhere in their system; is that enough? I’m guessing they value “personal positive feedback” directly from supervisors but I doubt they’ll get any. I worked in S&R a year ago and was under the supervision of 4 different people in the 4 months I was there. The only people that could possibly speak deeply about me are my coworker friends, do they count as references/verifiers or do they need to be above your certain rank? Guess I’ll try and form some newer connections in the future!

There is a difference between referees and verifiers. 

In terms of verifiers, admissions has to be able to contact and confirm that you've done this activity, for roughly this much time, etc... So the organizations having an electronic copy of your involvement will make it easier on their side to verify you. When admissions contacts verifiers to confirm an activity, the verifier won't need to speak in depth about you and your personality. That would take too much time and effort for everyone involved! In general you want to avoid friends as verifiers because that lacks credibility. You just need someone that is able to confirm that you did what you say you did, so any one of the supervisors you had would be ok, because at the very least they remember you. Personally, I would ask people beforehand to consent to be my verifier, that way 1) the call from admissions wasn't a surprise 2) they would have time to remember who I was and 3) I could discuss and confirm with them the number of hours, responsibilities, etc... All of this in written (ex: email) so that if the call did come, they could refer back to what we had discussed together and present confirming information. I believe it to be common courtesy to let people know they may get a call about me, and it avoids running into a situation where a supervisor doesn't remember you.  

Referees, on the other hand, should be 'superiors': professors, PIs, bosses, etc... because they need the credibility and the absence of "conflicts of interest" to speak in depth about your personality and work ethic. 

Edit: While referees get a message immediately with the link to a reference form, verifiers will only know that you put them down as verifiers if they get a call from admissions asking to confirm the information. When filling out the ECs/ABS, you put down their name, phone number, and email address, but unless you ask beforehand (which I strongly suggest!) they won't know. 

Edited by pnpclear
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3 minutes ago, pnpclear said:

Referees, on the other hand, should be 'superiors': professors, PIs, bosses, etc... because they need the credibility and the absence of "conflicts of interest" to speak in depth about your personality and work ethic. 

Do all extracurriculars need both a referee and a verifier? The latter shouldn’t be an issue but referees are where I may run into some trouble. Would I be able to get away on the application with verifiers for all my ECs and referees for 2-3 important ones?

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18 minutes ago, Canadian MED said:

Do all extracurriculars need both a referee and a verifier? The latter shouldn’t be an issue but referees are where I may run into some trouble. Would I be able to get away on the application with verifiers for all my ECs and referees for 2-3 important ones?

Nope! References and ECs are two separate categories. 

For most applications, there is an EC section, where you give summaries of your ECs and add contact information of a person who can confirm this is true. These are verifiers. For OMSAS, you can have up to 32 entries of ECs. Other schools can have different number of possible entries (ex: Alberta has up to 4/category, with 4 categories, and an additional essay) If they are self study stuff (like studying a language or learning the guitar) you do not need a verifier for this. If it's a an organized EC (ex: volunteering), then you need a verifier. 

References are to talk about you as a person. It is a separate section. Referees will be asked questions about your personality rather than asked questions about the activity you did. For example, I used the PI of the lab I worked in for my undergrad thesis project. He was asked stuff like "Why would they make a good physician?", "How does this candidate show leadership? Please give an example if possible." or he was asked to rank me on certain skills on a scale of 1-5. They will end up talking about what you did under their supervision as examples, but not necessarily in order to verify that you did do what you say you did. OMSAS requires 3 referees, with at least 1 academic and 1 non-academic. Other schools have stricter requirements on the referee type (ex: Calgary has "leadership", "advocate", and "academic", or something along those lines) or they can have less (ex: Alberta asks for 2).

There can be crossover between EC verifiers and referees. For example, I put "summer research student" in my ECs, and used my PI as a verifier in the EC section. He was also my reference in the "reference" section. 

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2 hours ago, pnpclear said:

Nope! References and ECs are two separate categories. 

For most applications, there is an EC section, where you give summaries of your ECs and add contact information of a person who can confirm this is true. These are verifiers. For OMSAS, you can have up to 32 entries of ECs. Other schools can have different number of possible entries (ex: Alberta has up to 4/category, with 4 categories, and an additional essay) If they are self study stuff (like studying a language or learning the guitar) you do not need a verifier for this. If it's a an organized EC (ex: volunteering), then you need a verifier. 

References are to talk about you as a person. It is a separate section. Referees will be asked questions about your personality rather than asked questions about the activity you did. For example, I used the PI of the lab I worked in for my undergrad thesis project. He was asked stuff like "Why would they make a good physician?", "How does this candidate show leadership? Please give an example if possible." or he was asked to rank me on certain skills on a scale of 1-5. They will end up talking about what you did under their supervision as examples, but not necessarily in order to verify that you did do what you say you did. OMSAS requires 3 referees, with at least 1 academic and 1 non-academic. Other schools have stricter requirements on the referee type (ex: Calgary has "leadership", "advocate", and "academic", or something along those lines) or they can have less (ex: Alberta asks for 2).

There can be crossover between EC verifiers and referees. For example, I put "summer research student" in my ECs, and used my PI as a verifier in the EC section. He was also my reference in the "reference" section. 

Awesome, appreciate all the information! I’ve gotten a sense of what I need now. Just to make sure, verifiers are only asked to verify your claims and nothing else correct? Therefore these can just be office or front desk staff that have access to the database, logs, etc. but may never have met me directly? Or would it be safer to put someone who have a least met me and can talk a little about me if potentially asked?

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1 hour ago, Canadian MED said:

Awesome, appreciate all the information! I’ve gotten a sense of what I need now. Just to make sure, verifiers are only asked to verify your claims and nothing else correct? Therefore these can just be office or front desk staff that have access to the database, logs, etc. but may never have met me directly? Or would it be safer to put someone who have a least met me and can talk a little about me if potentially asked?

I would make sure they know beforehand that a call about you may be coming, and personally I would feel more comfortable if they knew who I was. The risk you run with a front desk staff is that they forget about you. Verifiers can be contacted anytime from October to May, so a front desk staff who manages dozens of calls and people per day may not remember about that one person who asked them to be a verifier. While I don't believe verifiers are asked about your personality, it's easier for everyone if the verifier can recall who you were quickly if admissions gives them your name.

Once again, that courtesy email can go a long way to put you back on their radar and on their minds!

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I think you’ve gotten a handle on most of how things work but just to clarify a few things- you should definitely contact all your verifiers and ask them to verify! I had to reach out to a few people I hadn’t talked to in a while but it’s not too big a deal, all they have to do (as has already been said) is verify that what you wrote down about that activity is true. I personally had a verifier for every activity I wrote down, and I sent them all an email beforehand asking if it was okay for me to put them down, as well as the exact information they’d be verifying (how many hours I put down, etc.) so there would be no surprises if the med schools contacts them.

As for referees, at least for Ontario, there are only three of them. So I had I believe 3 referees and 19-20 verifiers for my 32 ABS activities. A few of my referees also were verifiers for me- for example the volunteer coordinator at my hospital was a referee for me but also verified my volunteer involvement. Referees are the ones that actually talk in depth about your character. I hope this helps! 

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1 hour ago, pnpclear said:

I would make sure they know beforehand that a call about you may be coming, and personally I would feel more comfortable if they knew who I was. The risk you run with a front desk staff is that they forget about you. Verifiers can be contacted anytime from October to May, so a front desk staff who manages dozens of calls and people per day may not remember about that one person who asked them to be a verifier. While I don't believe verifiers are asked about your personality, it's easier for everyone if the verifier can recall who you were quickly if admissions gives them your name.

Once again, that courtesy email can go a long way to put you back on their radar and on their minds!

 

11 minutes ago, Psych said:

I think you’ve gotten a handle on most of how things work but just to clarify a few things- you should definitely contact all your verifiers and ask them to verify! I had to reach out to a few people I hadn’t talked to in a while but it’s not too big a deal, all they have to do (as has already been said) is verify that what you wrote down about that activity is true. I personally had a verifier for every activity I wrote down, and I sent them all an email beforehand asking if it was okay for me to put them down, as well as the exact information they’d be verifying (how many hours I put down, etc.) so there would be no surprises if the med schools contacts them.

As for referees, at least for Ontario, there are only three of them. So I had I believe 3 referees and 19-20 verifiers for my 32 ABS activities. A few of my referees also were verifiers for me- for example the volunteer coordinator at my hospital was a referee for me but also verified my volunteer involvement. Referees are the ones that actually talk in depth about your character. I hope this helps! 

Thanks for all the help you guys!

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