Passing exams and getting good grades is definitely a requirement for medical school and for becoming a doctor. However, you cannot operate on a patient just based on theory. Practical experience is equally important and patient interaction comes above all. How to handle a stressful situation, how to deal with patients with compassion, how to interact with patients, and much more. That’s where clinical experience comes into picture which equips you with all the practical skills required to join the med school and also for becoming a doctor!
Why is clinical experience important?
Being a doctor means thriving on experience. You cannot know how a procedure is done on the human body unless you see it for yourself or execute it yourself. Because no matter how much you have studied about the human body, when it comes to working on it, you need experience.
You need to have hands-on experience to be able to apply what you have learned in theory. Furthermore, every single patient is different and it is important to learn the requirements of different patients to become a good doctor.
How does clinical experience for med school help?
Helps you in getting into a med school
Your stunning GPA and stellar MCAT school scores will make your application great. But clinical experience will make it outstanding, improving your chances for getting admission into the medical program at a good medical university.
If you wish to study medicine, it is always good to know about the reality of what you are getting yourself into and how you can handle it. Moreover, having a clinical experience on your application showcases that you have put in the effort and you are genuinely interested in the field and not just the alluring version of it. The clinical experience puts it clearly that you are determined about your decision to pursue medicine. It gives you an edge when it comes to getting into top medical schools.
Hone your medical skills and personality
The most important benefit of clinical experience for med school is that it helps you develop new skills and hone the existing ones. To become a good doctor in the future it is necessary to know how to interact and engage with patients. It is one of the prerequisites of the profession that you cannot compromise with.
Clinical experience also gives you an idea if the profession aligns with your goals and personality or not. Furthermore, it helps in cultivating other basic skills like communication, teamwork, the ability to handle pressure, and organizational skills.
Getting you letters of recommendation
A letter of recommendation adds 3 extra stars to your application for medical school. Along with clinical experience, you also build fruitful connections that can help you in getting a residency eventually. Building a reputation is equally important as a skill to become a good doctor. When patients and the staff know how dedicated you are, it always helps you in earning brownie points in your letter of recommendation.
So, take your clinical experience for med school seriously. One suggestion is to try different specialties and widen your horizon. Different experiences will also help you figure out what is your calling and which medical field suits you the best.
Gain hands-on experience
It might be the last on our list but it is one the most important benefits of a clinical experience. Working in different medical departments gives you the experience that will help you throughout your career as a medical professional. Working with different medical professions also helps you learn different approaches toward a patient or a circumstance. This learning also helps you in figuring out which approach you would like to adopt or if you would want to have a new one of your own. With clinical experience, you get first-hand involvement in the medical system helping your holistic growth and also building the foundation of your medical journey.
How many hours of clinical experience for med school?
Even though there is no fixed number of hours that you are required to complete, it will be better if you take a benchmark into consideration. The medical field is competitive thus it is always better to have an edge over others and one of doing is having more clinical experience hours. If you want to get into a good med school, consider completing at least 100 hours of clinical experience. The more you work, the more you know, and the more you know the better.
Clinical experience for med school: Examples
Whichever field you choose, you will be in direct touch with the patients. However, getting a clinical experience opportunity can be difficult. So, be prepared to get rejected (most of the time)! However, doing in-depth research and showing real interest can help you in landing a good opportunity (so take note of these two things).
Paid clinical experiences
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Emergency Medical Technician is an entry-level care provider position. It is the unpredictability of this field that provides students with the opportunity to learn. The different medical conditions and scenarios give the students an experience of working in pressure.
However, to become a basic EMT you would be required to complete at least 154 hours of classroom and practical training.
Become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Becoming a CNA is a way of getting clinical exposure as well as making some additional income. A CNA is a beginner in the healthcare team who focuses mostly on the patient centered tasks. The programs to become a CNA are typically short and you can easily enroll in a course in a community college.
You can also continue working as a CNA during medical school without affecting your studies.
Unpaid clinical experiences
Every time you visit an orthodontist, you must have seen someone assisting them and also looking at your teeth structuring and maybe even making notes. That’s shadowing. It is an aspiring orthodontist or a dentist taking clinical experience. Shadowing enables the students to interact with the patient and observe the patient giving them a taste of what it will be like to work in the field. Shadowing not only helps you in getting first-hand experience but also gives you a mentor who can guide you throughout. So, the learning in shadowing is immaculate and it also helps in building your network.
Volunteering is by far one of the best ways to get clinical experience. However, with volunteering comes a lot of responsibility since you have willingly applied for the job without pay, especially when it comes to volunteering for emergency rooms.
For volunteering, think of places like emergency rooms, hospitals, medical centers, clinics, outpatient care centers. Choose a field that interests you so that along with learning, you also enjoy what you are doing. It is a sustainable way of completing your clinical experience hours as well as building a good reputation and a decent relationship with the organization.
Kickstart your medical journey with clinical experience
Clinical experience for med school helps you by giving a head start when it comes to getting admission. The admission committee of medical schools is always looking for students who have shown their interest as well as dedication to becoming medical professionals. Clinical experience is crucial but not the only requirement to get into a medical school. Learn what are the requirements for medical schools and start planning accordingly.
Start early, start now, and achieve!