I am currently entering my second semester of junior year as a pre-medicine student, and like all of us, I still have a lot of work to do to prepare for the applications. If you speak to a lot of fellow pre-meds, they will offer you their own ideas for how to best prepare for your applications. There are some obvious ones, such as keeping your GPA up and scoring well on the MCAT.
However, there are so many other factors that can go into a good application.
A good application could include a lot of activities, such as school extracurricular activities, volunteering, shadowing, lab research and so on. However, since you cannot really do as much in regards to school-associated activities and lab research, you certainly can do at least some of the others listed, such as volunteering and shadowing physicians.
Volunteering is a great way to utilize your time over breaks.
In the winter, there is a pressing need for people to provide services to places like food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and so on. The summer is also a good time to volunteer since you have a lot of time over this particular break (though I should note that showing commitment and finding quality hours are important!). Find an organization or cause to dedicate yourself in order to create quality experiences worth discussing.
Another particularly good avenue to attain any sort of experience over breaks is clinical experience. This can easily be achieved by shadowing. A good example of this was when I was able to shadow the cardiothoracic surgeon who performed an operation my sister, and I used my spring break to accomplish this. Though it may be more difficult to find doctors who would be willing to allow you to shadow, taking advantage of your free time to meet with physicians and see if you like that specialty is always a good choice!
Lastly? Relax a bit!
I know that a lot of people like to think forward and try to prepare early. Don't do what I have done and stress yourself out needlessly. Focus on relaxing your brain and finding activities that you enjoy as well. Learn an instrument, partake in your hobbies, exercise, etc.
Though it can be hard to develop a strategy for creating a good application, just remember that it should be about you. Express yourself in your applications, and find what makes you stand out. If you love volunteering, you should do that. Do you love research and clinical experiences? Focus on that.
Do what helps portray you the best.
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