Health Care Experience
Excellent, consistent classroom performance and a solid performance on the entrance exams are essential for a successful application, but there are additional ways to strengthen your candidacy. Sufficient extracurricular activities (quality, not quantity) and evidence of service work (helping others in need) can significantly strengthen your candidacy. Given the competition for admission, experience in a hospital or health care environment (e.g., doctor's, dentist's or veterinarian's office) is critical.
With the current emphasis on primary care and preventative medicine, "shadowing" a practicing physician in a local community may be very instructive — and may provide you with an interesting contrast to how health care is delivered in some large city hospitals. Though not required, many of the top health professions graduate schools also like to see students who have some research experience. This becomes important at schools such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, etc.
Health professions schools are not only looking for outstanding students, but they also want to fill their classes with individuals who have something unique or unusual to offer their institutions. High grades and strong MCATs/DATs/GREs coupled with some service work and/or health-related experience will not necessarily gain you acceptance. Try to think about what sets you apart from other top applicants, and continue to refine and/or develop that aspect of your "portfolio." There is no "one" correct activity. We recommend that whatever you are involved in (e.g., significant research, service work with Native Americans, working with battered women or AIDS patients in a local community organization), just be certain to show a commitment to doing it well. Again, quality, not quantity, is important.
Over and above simply participating in an already existing program, admissions committees are looking for evidence of creativity and innovation. Additionally, taking a leadership role that involves advocacy for some cause/program can greatly help your candidacy.
Listed below are some suggestions you might use to pursue various types of service work. This list is not exhaustive, but the suggestions below are a good place to start.
Check Local Hospitals
Many hospitals have volunteer offices. (Call the main number and ask for the volunteer office.) To obtain a listing of hospitals in your area, we suggest you visit HospitalLink, which lists hospitals here in the States.
Check Boston-Area Opportunities
Locally, students have volunteered/worked at a number of institutions in the Boston area. To gain a better sense of what is available, we recommend you visit the following two websites: Boston Area Volunteer Guide and Medical Research, Shadowing, and Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-Health Students. To obtain a listing of hospitals, we recommend you visit HospitalLink.
Our students have volunteered at the following hospitals near BC:
Also check volunteer opportunities near your permanent residence. Talk to people whom you or your parents know about possible positions helping in the clinical or research sections of a hospital. Students have also volunteered at rehabilitation centers (e.g., Boston's Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital) and various nursing homes.
Check Resources at Boston College
Visit he Premedical Programs Volunteer links under Pre-Health Web Resources There are also a number of bulletin boards on campus which list volunteer or internship opportunities in the sciences. If you are registered premed or predent, you will periodically receive emails from our office listing various summer/volunteer/research opportunities. You are also welcome to stop by the Premedical Programs Office (Higgins 648) and ask to see previous postings/announcements. Listed below are additional resources offered through Boston College that may help you obtain the necessary experience:
This program is for BC students and Alumni only to gain valuable clinical exposure by shadowing alumni who currently work as physicians, dentists, verterinarians, optometrists, podiatrists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and psychologists. The Eagledocs database contains the names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. of over 250 alumni who work in various capacities within the medical field, and who have agreed to provide clinical experiences to our students. The database can be searched by various criteria including specialty, health school alma mater, and state/city where mentoring will occur. To access the database return to the Premedical Programs home page and click on EagleDocs Alumni/ae Search.
The Career Center, located at 38 Commonwealth Ave., offers various programs. Check the Internship Listings and Resources, specifically "Health Care Internship Sources" which links to internship programs available locally and nationwide.
This office (McElroy 233; phone 617-552-3475) serves as a clearinghouse for an extensive variety of service activities that involve helping various types of people in need. Additionally, the Office of the Dean for Student Development (phone 2-8639) runs programs on alcohol awareness and periodically needs volunteers to serve as peer educators.
This office (McElroy 114; phone 617-552-1317) Serves members of the Boston College community in many ways. These include assisting students, staff and faculty who are seeking opportunities to serve in the greater Boston area.
Located on Washington Street in Brighton, the aim of the Neighborhood Center is to provide various forms of assistance to the residents of the Allston/Brighton community. Volunteer opportunities range from one day service commitments to weekly assignments, such as tutoring or helping the elderly. Further information can be found on their website or by calling the office at (617) 552-0445.
This organization is composed primarily of premedical, predental and preveterinary students. This organization sponsors a number of programs including the Bioethics Conference and the Medical School Deans Admission Night.
a student-run, all volunteer emergency medical service that assists the BC Police Department in providing EMS coverage to the campus during peak periods. They also sponsor a variety of certification courses including EMT.
Check the World Wide Web for Service/Research Opportunities
There is a wealth of information on the web, including a site for international volunteer positions, and information about summer/research opportunities. For example, the homepage for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, has a listing of summer opportunities for high school, college, and graduate students. We encourage you to access their web page at www.nih.gov. Also check out HospitalLink, a growing online directory of hospitals (in the US), to aid in your research.