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Extra curriculars/volunteering


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Hi everyone - I just wanted to bounce my ECs/volunteering experience off you guys to see if you think that what I have is sufficient.

 

Just a bit of background: I graduated from 3 years of a BSc in biochemistry (from Quebec, that's why 3 years). My OMSAS GPA, including all of UofT's "worst grades/year" omissions leave me with a 3.82 for applying to UofT. I'm doing my Ph.D. now in Chemical Engineering at Mac with a grad GPA of 3.9 on OMSAS. I'll have several publications by the time I'm done next year.

 

I'm writing the MCAT in May/June

 

In ascending chronologically, my EC's/volunteer experience are:

 

Summer 2000 - Worked as a summer camp counselor at a full time sleep-away camp for disabled children. This lasted the whole summer, and I was in charge (along with 3 other counselors) of planning day activities and caring for the well-being of around 15 moderately to severely disabled kids throughout the summer. I got paid like 1000$ for the summer, so it wasn't considered volunteering.

 

Summer 2006 + summer 2007 - I worked as a warehouse foreman at a facilitated work environment for moderately to severely disabled adults from Montreal's Jewish community. This was part of a summer employment program sponsored by the government of Canada to give university students an opportunity to work in an environment that focuses on caring for special needs workers.I was directly involved in planning work schedules, planning day long events, and looking after the well being of the employees. I got a minimum wage salary for this work from the government, but I had to work another job at night at a grocery store to make ends meet (so it wasn't purely non-altruistic) :)

 

Summer 2008 + 2009 - Undergrad NSERC USRA student working in biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry research labs, respectively by year. I also tutored a CEGEP student in organic chemistry during the summer of 2009 - I was paid for this work.

 

I was work without pay as an undergrad because I was really running on a tight budget (I had to support myself through it all).

 

Fall 2009 - present I began graduate work in 2009 as a masters student and transferred to a Ph.D. program in 2010. In this time I've done a lot of work within the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at McMaster and across faculties. For volunteer experience in this time, I have:

- Organized 3 day long conferences (over 100 attendees). Two of these conferences focused primarily on biomedical applications of polymers and polymeric materials.

- Served on the graduate club as a seminar, conference organizer. I organized having speakers from industry and academia to give talks within my department.

- I was a representative for student recruitment to the Dept. of Chemical Engineering 3 years in a row.

- I served as a student activity leader to introduce high school students of the Faculty of Engineering in order to encourage them to pursue university studies in engineering.

- I supervised/mentored an undergraduate's final year thesis research project.

- I supervised/mentored an NSERC USRA undergrad's summer project.

- Served a judge for undergraduate entrepreneurial presentations in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

- Served a peer reviewer for an ACS paper.

 

- I'll have opportunities to do more of this kind of stuff before I graduate.

 

 

I'm not sure if the following is considered EC, but I've given around 12 presentations at institutional, national, and international conferences. Some of these were posters and others were talks. Oh, and one of the papers I've published was chosen as one of the top 10 most downloaded papers for last spring quarter (it's a pretty big ACS journal).

 

As you can see, I have never volunteered in a hospital (I've spent a lot of time hospitalized, though :P). I've read some places that that's not super necessary, but do you guys think it would be seen as a fault? I'm scared of starting up now because UofT might just see it as me being a Johnny-come-lately in order to get into med school (I'll be applying this coming fall). Do you guys think the above is sufficient or do you think I need to do more stuff?

 

Thanks and best of luck to you all!!

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Yep I work in drug delivery, which is a lot of organic chemistry, polymer science, and biological study (cell tests and animal work). Are you doing Ph.D. as well?

 

This is just my opinion but from what I have seen that is a pretty competitive application already - you show interest in medically related activities already with your research.

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Maybe you'd have a better sense of this then: How many publications do you think you need to have to be considered competitive?

 

I am doing my phd in life science, and I dont know how hard is to publish a paper in the field of engineering journal. In life science, I know of ppl who publish 9 papers during phd (all 9 are 1st author on good IF journal, well, he is my idol. I try my best to approach his standard, but I dont think I am able to do it by the end of this year), and I know ppl who only publish 1 or 2 papers. I guess it really depends on the quality of Phd applicants in the specific year.

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Woah 9 papers? Really? I don't think anyone in my dept. has ever done that. I'll be lucky if I get 5 by the end of the year with first author (I have 2 first author and 2 2nd author so far). Maybe it's kind of a relative sort of thing.

 

Edit: For some reference, most biochem Ph.D.s I know get like 1-2 papers from their entire degree (which can take up to 7 years). Of course, those papers tend to be in things like Nature and PNAS.

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This is just my opinion but from what I have seen that is a pretty competitive application already - you show interest in medically related activities already with your research.

 

Thanks - that's really encouraging :D

I've wanted to be a doctor since I was 16 (had a major medical intervention then, which initially inspired me to pursue medicine). I'm 31 now, and I didn't want to apply straight out of undergrad because I wanted medically-related research experience. My goal is to do medical research along with practice, so drug delivery just kind of fit for me.

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Woah 9 papers? Really? I don't think anyone in my dept. has ever done that. I'll be lucky if I get 5 by the end of the year with first author (I have 2 first author and 2 2nd author so far). Maybe it's kind of a relative sort of thing.

 

Edit: For some reference, most biochem Ph.D.s I know get like 1-2 papers from their entire degree (which can take up to 7 years). Of course, those papers tend to be in things like Nature and PNAS.

 

Five 1st author pubs are pretty impressive. Honestly, Nature and PNAS are quite impossible for the student who wants to finish the Phd degree within 5 years, and I dont think its good for a student's future because 1 Nature in 7 years is not worth. what year are you in ur phd?

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Guest Fresh_Underwear

I'm not sure how U of T does its evaluation with PhD graduates, but quantities of publication doesn't really illustrate a quality applicant. Many in my year don't have "9 first author pubs". Honestly if someone has that many pubs, then he/she should stay in research. Why kill yourself with 4 more years of school and be removed from your active field of research when your publications clearly can guarantee a good post-doc position with good funding opportunities.

 

I really don't see an actual number that guarantees your competitiveness. I consider a PhD that has more than 2 first author publications and a 1-2 coauthored publications to be productive. In my department, anything more than 3 prior to defence was considered good. I'm not sure how that would translate during the review process. Also the number of years you took your PhD matters. 3yrs with 4 pubs is a lot more impressive than 5 yrs with 4 pubs. You get the idea. Lastly, due to the extensiveness of the review process for PhD applicant, evaluator also look at more than just research during your file review. What you did during your PhD is also important, awards, patents, scholarships, presentations and of course peer-reviewed publications all cumulate in the academic aspect of file review (of course there are more). Beyond this there is also the huge chunk of non-academic involvement you would be evaluated on, so I wouldn't worry too much about just the numbers.

 

Lastly, it is true that you don't need hospital volunteering to get accepted to med, but without it is definitely seen as a shortcoming. If the applicant have no clinical exposure/experience, then I'd question the likelihood of whether the applicant has gained enough knowledge of the clinical medicine to fully realize the nature of the field. It'll be hard to convince the reviewer you have this exposure from non-EC experience (i.e. collaborated with clinican on research study???). In any case, you'd have to really convince the person that you're ready for medicine without having experience medicine beyond just research. It's not an easy task to do.

 

If you got more questions, then shoot me a PM.

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I totally agree with what fresh underwear said. The person whom I know of has 9 pub during Phd is a young Canada research chair now. Sometimes I think it is too good to be true, but nothing is impossible. When my supervisor introduced me a young prof every time and told me that she was watching him growing up. I will be a bit stressed out. :P

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I'm not sure how U of T does its evaluation with PhD graduates, but quantities of publication doesn't really illustrate a quality applicant. Many in my year don't have "9 first author pubs". Honestly if someone has that many pubs, then he/she should stay in research. Why kill yourself with 4 more years of school and be removed from your active field of research when your publications clearly can guarantee a good post-doc position with good funding opportunities.

 

I really don't see an actual number that guarantees your competitiveness. I consider a PhD that has more than 2 first author publications and a 1-2 coauthored publications to be productive. In my department, anything more than 3 prior to defence was considered good. I'm not sure how that would translate during the review process. Also the number of years you took your PhD matters. 3yrs with 4 pubs is a lot more impressive than 5 yrs with 4 pubs. You get the idea. Lastly, due to the extensiveness of the review process for PhD applicant, evaluator also look at more than just research during your file review. What you did during your PhD is also important, awards, patents, scholarships, presentations and of course peer-reviewed publications all cumulate in the academic aspect of file review (of course there are more). Beyond this there is also the huge chunk of non-academic involvement you would be evaluated on, so I wouldn't worry too much about just the numbers.

 

Lastly, it is true that you don't need hospital volunteering to get accepted to med, but without it is definitely seen as a shortcoming. If the applicant have no clinical exposure/experience, then I'd question the likelihood of whether the applicant has gained enough knowledge of the clinical medicine to fully realize the nature of the field. It'll be hard to convince the reviewer you have this exposure from non-EC experience (i.e. collaborated with clinican on research study???). In any case, you'd have to really convince the person that you're ready for medicine without having experience medicine beyond just research. It's not an easy task to do.

 

If you got more questions, then shoot me a PM.

 

THIS person knows what they're talking about :)

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