A strong applicant to medical and the other health professional schools will not only have superb academic qualifications but will also have demonstrated that they fully understand and are committed to pursuing a career in medicine.
To meet these criteria, practical experiences can be gained by volunteering or shadowing a health care professional. There are a variety of opportunities that exists. They range from formal volunteer and internship programs conducted in collaboration with hospitals or clinics to placements where you create your own clinical internship by contacting practitioners and organizations directly. In either case, this will provide you with firsthand knowledge regarding the daily tasks of the profession and help determine if you really enjoy the field. Some placements even provide the opportunity to directly interact with patients by simply listening to their stories. This helps develop some of the necessary bedside skills needed by all health care professionals. In addition to gaining valuable practical career insights, a successful volunteer or shadow experience will also provide you the opportunity to request a letter of recommendation from the supervising physician.
Medical and health professional programs also are looking for well-rounded applicants with experiences outside of science and the classroom. This could entail participation in school clubs or organizations, hobbies, or sports. Regardless of the activity, it should demonstrate the student possesses some of the essential virtues needed in the health professions like teamwork, communication, professionalism, time management, and leadership qualities. Please note that medical schools are not looking for an endless list of extracurricular activities. They are evaluating the length and depth of involvement in each of your activities and how each activity has contributed to your personal development. Achieving a balance of different activities that interest you is a very effective method to distinguish yourself from other applicants.
Additional information on Health Care-related Volunteer Opportunities can be found here.