Beyond Clinical Experience and Research: How Other Activities Create Well-Rounded Students

Beyond Clinical Experience and Research: How Other Activities Create Well-Rounded Students

John Fierst (Rice University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5969-0.ch004
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Health professions schools eagerly look for applicants who demonstrate a commitment to service, the potential for leadership, and the ability to work effectively with others as reflected by their core competencies. While these attributes can be developed through clinical experience and research, there are myriad ways for students to gain these important skills in many other contexts as well. Health professions advisors are uniquely positioned to help students explore the activities they would like to pursue and guide them in identifying how their extracurricular endeavors and employment will positively contribute to their development as future healthcare professionals. This chapter offers the importance of community service, leadership, employment, and extracurricular involvement in creating well-rounded pre-health students and suggests strategies that pre-health advisors can use to aid their students and their own offices in these areas.
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Core competencies, values, or skills have become an important framework in evaluating applicants for admission to health professions programs. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has developed 15 core competencies for students entering medical school, and these competencies “have been endorsed by the AAMC Group on Student Affairs (GSA) Committee on Admissions (COA) who represent the MD-granting medical schools in the United States” (AAMC, 2021b). “The competency list was developed after an extensive review of the medical education and employment literatures and with input from several blue-ribbon and advisory panels” (AAMC, 2021b). Advisors should note that many other health professions besides allopathic medicine have sets of competencies, values, or skills for their students that are similar to these from the AAMC. These competencies should serve as a framework for how extracurricular involvement and employment are paramount to a competitive health professions application. This chapter will make use of the AAMC’s 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students, listed below with descriptions from the AAMC:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Service: Providing work, skills, or labor that benefits others without any monetary compensation.

Gap Year: A period of a year that takes place after a student graduates from their undergraduate studies but before they enter a health professions program. This is also referred to as a growth year or glide year, and some students may take multiple gap years in between their undergraduate studies and their health professions program.

Leadership: Positively influencing others in a group or community to guide the group toward a shared goal or vision

Extracurricular Activity: An activity that a student participates in that is not tied to an academic course. These include but are not limited to student organizations, intramural sports, community service, and mentorship programs.

Reflection: The process of critically thinking about what one has done or achieved and how one’s experiences fit into the broader context of one’s values and goals.

Transferable Skills: A skill learned in one context or environment that can be applied in a similar way in a new context or environment.

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