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Hello! I’m currently a sophomore pre-med student majoring in Neuroscience and Health and Society. I’m about to start the summer between my sophomore and junior years of undergrad. I’ve been given two opportunities for the summer, and I can only really choose one route to go with. I’ve been pretty torn on this decision for the past few days, so I’d appreciate guidance on what you all think would be the best choice for maximizing my chances of medical school admission.

Route 1
I’ve been accepted as a tour guide for the admissions center of my college. This is something I feel pretty passionate about, since I’ve always loved the idea of welcoming prospective students and families to our campus. It’s a part-time paid position which would allow me to also spend time engaging in clinical volunteering, shadowing positions, and MCAT preparation as well. The only thing is I’m not sure how admirable the tour guide position would look to Med School admissions committees. Additionally, I’d like to continue serving as a tour guide in the Fall and Spring semesters, and in order to do that, I have to serve as a tour guide over the summer per the policy of my school’s admissions department.

Route 2
I’ve also been accepted to a full-time paid research internship in my hometown focused on biotechnology. As a Neuroscience major, this is also something I’m really passionate about since the field of biotechnology is really innovative and can have outstanding implications on human experience. If I take on this role, I would have time to study for the MCAT, but probably not enough time to pursue clinical volunteering and clinical shadowing experiences. I’m pretty sure this opportunity would look great on Med School applications, but the drawback is that it’s really time-consuming. As of now, I’ve had a considerable amount of research experience (in the fields of Family Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery), but these experiences have primarily been virtual and involved going through data-sheets due to the pandemic. This internship would be my first opportunity to engage in true wet-lab research, which I would also like to do.

Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed with this? I’ve honestly been torn over this decision for the past few days, so any guidance would be appreciated. Just for reference, these are how many hours I have in clinical volunteering, shadowing, and research so far

Clinical Volunteering: ~ 180 hours
Clinical Shadowing: ~ 65 hours in Family Medicine and ~ 20 hours in Cardiology
Current Research Experience: Working on qualitative research for a med school's Department of Family Medicine since summer of 2020, and working on clinical research for another med school's Department of Orthopedic Surgery since Fall of 2020. Both of these experiences have primarily involved virtually reviewing data-sets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks in advance!

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The short answer is, it probably doesn't matter. Both seem like good opportunities that will provide good personal experiences that could contribute to a well-rounded medical school application. What is more important is which option you are more passionate about and are more interested in doing.

I have reviewed applications for medical schools and served on interview committees and to be completely honest, I have yet to be impressed by any single applicants research or clinical volunteering experience. Clinical volunteering and research are great to show your interest in the field of medicine, and commitment to scholarly activity, but I don't think either makes an application particularly strong on its own merit (i.e. shadowing a cardiologist for a few days is great, but won't make you a better medical student or doctor than the next candidate, and being able to run a PCR in a wet lab is great, but won't make you a better medical student or doctor than the next candidate either).

You need to pursue activities that will help you develop into a mature, well rounded person by improving your ability to work in teams, show leadership and communication skills, and overcome challenges and adversity. Either one of these options has that potential, but its all about how you learn from the experience and portray that on your application. Alone, either activity can be very impressive, or not impressive at all. Do whatever you want to do more so you can speak honestly about the experience and the skills you've gained from it.

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On 4/29/2021 at 11:35 PM, robclem21 said:

You need to pursue activities that will help you develop into a mature, well rounded person by improving your ability to work in teams, show leadership and communication skills, and overcome challenges and adversity. Either one of these options has that potential, but its all about how you learn from the experience and portray that on your application. Alone, either activity can be very impressive, or not impressive at all. Do whatever you want to do more so you can speak honestly about the experience and the skills you've gained from it.

Echoing this. Getting into medical school is a long journey and engaging in activities that you truly enjoy will reduce feeling burned out by this process.

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I would tend to go for Route 1 asyou would be increasing your communication skills, being helpful and this will allow you to continue - although either will not materially affect your ultimate chances of acceptance.  

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