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3 Steps To Make the Most of Your Non-Clinical Experiences

Updated: Aug 7, 2023


Let's face it, there can be times when the need for a paycheck in school can be so pressing that you have to take whatever job you can get (I can remember literally having $12 in my bank account in school at one time!). But have you ever wondered if that factory, warehouse, fast food or retail job can really add anything to your med school (or other health profession) application?


I've often had students short-change their non-clinical experiences because of a lack of awareness of how to connect a non-clinical job to the AAMC core competencies. Non-clinical jobs, such as those in food service and retail, are usually chock full of opportunities to grow in competencies such as service orientation, teamwork, and oral communication, among others. But if you aren't clearly showing how you have grown in these areas, you could miss a golden opportunity to show how you understand that the skills you have been growing in are transferrable to medicine.


To help connect the dots with these opportunities, consider these steps:


Step #1 - Identify competencies


You should be able to identify the specific core competency that you have shown growth in while in your non-clinical experience. If you aren't familiar with the AAMC's core competencies you should be sure to review them here. This is a great time to reevaluate how you are growing in each area and what your areas for improvement are.


Step #2 - Get specific


Be sure to make a clear connection to your growth in the competency by using specific examples showing how you have grown in this area. Never assume that admissions committees will connect the dots- they want to be sure that YOU have connected the dots and can speak to your own growth. This is often where applicants miss the opportunity to show, not just tell, how they are developing as a person.


Step #3 - Connect to healthcare


Just because you have connected your non-clinical experience to growth in a competency doesn't mean that you have yet made the connection to medicine. Be sure to connect how you will be able to use this new growth to your advantage to become a better healthcare provider!


Seal the deal...


By being intentional with how you frame your growth in non-clinical positions you can add value and diversity to your application. Make that direct connection to medicine and show that you do understand how the skills you have learned can transfer to healthcare and help you become a better medical provider. While you certainly will need clinical experiences, don't sell yourself short and waste any non-clinical experiences you have had!

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