So you’ve decided to become a doctor, congratulations! The only trouble is, now, you have to get into med school. It may seem like a daunting task, or you may be chomping at the bit to go; either way, this article is here to help.
We have scoured dozens of medical school and education websites and articles to find the most relevant and helpful information when it comes to writing a top-notch resume.
While we cannot guarantee you’ll get into med school, we can offer some advice and tips that will, hopefully, be helpful along the way.
Resume objective for medical school applicants
An objective on a medical school resume will not look all that different than an objective for a job.
The main difference we noted as we read through resumes, is that all or part of your objective might be based on the skills you want to gain and learn in place of the skills you already have.
It is also recommended, if you know, to list the field of medicine you wish to go into. But if you are undecided, don’t fret, many students enter med school with only an inkling of the area of study they are most interested in pursuing.
Dedicated, 4.0 student, seeking to gain the necessary skills at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine to begin a career in neurological health and disorders.
Resume extracurricular activities for medical school applicants
On a typical job resume you would find a listing of all the pertinent skills needed for a job. And while you definitely need some savvy skills to become a doctor that is not what schools are interested in seeing.
According to an article from U.S. News, schools want to see what you have contributed to the community or your school.
Schools are looking for activities that will make you an ideal doctor, so while stamp collecting may be a passion, that is not typically the type of activity they are looking for on a resume.
Instead focus on skills related to volunteering, tutoring, lifeguarding, research or if you have a long standing relationship with a particular organization. They want to see where you have made a difference.
Other skills you may wish to include would be fluency in more than one language, proficiency in a musical instrument, writing experience, art skills, and any physical activities such as biking, tennis, kayaking, etc.
Sample Extracurricular Activities
Girl Scout Leader | Volunteer at Meals on Wheels | Fluent in French | Published Short Story Writer | Certified Lifeguard
Medical school applicant work experience
If you have been spending your life in school preparing for medical school you may not have traditional work experience, but the experts, such as printed in The Princeton Review, state you want to include your volunteerism and internships.
This is also the place to list any clinical experience you may have or if you have participated in clinical shadowing or the high brown word, preceptorship.
If you do not have any paid work experience that is applicable, simply title this section “Experience”, “Volunteer Work” or “Internship”, whichever options is most applicable to your situation.
Clinical Shadowing, 2018
Participated in a clinical shadowing of two doctors at Miller Pediatrics, Annapolis Maryland. Learned about HIPPA, basics of medical insurance and observed examinations, immunizations, hearing and basic visual tests.
Meals on Wheels
Food Delivery, 2016-2020
Delivered food on a twice weekly basis to participants in the local Meals on Wheels Program. Spent time speaking with many of my recipients and formed some personal bonds with individuals.
Girl Scouts of the United States of America
Girl Scout Leader, Troop #5675, 2013-2015
Led and assisted junior high school girls through a series of activities, challenges and volunteer work that led to them earning badges in various dimensions.
Medical school applicant education
Your education section is where you will list any degrees you have of course, but this is also the place to list TA experience, mentorships, student organizations, awards or other educational accomplishments.
Basic rule of thumb, if it applies to your ability to be a competent, detailed oriented, and committed doctor, list it here.
When it comes to your undergrad degree, many people believe it has to be in a science or health related field, and that is an option. But several of our sources recommended earning a humanities degree.
In fact, College Vine reported that roughly 5% more humanity majors were accepted into school during the 19/20 cycle than traditional STEM related degrees.
The state that humanities degrees make you stand out more and provide valuable soft-skills a physician needs.
No matter what degree you seek, the important fact is to make sure you have followed the pre-med tack which requires an “x” amount of classes per domain. For example, 2 semesters of biology, 2 semesters of chemistry, etc.
If you have your eyes set on a particular med school or two, take the time early in your undergrad career to seek out their specific pre-med requirements.
At the very end of your education section list your MCAT scores
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, 2011-2015
- GPA 3.8
- Minor in Creative Writing
- Participant in the Pre-Medical Scholar Program
2016 MCAT – 517
Something else that makes a medical school resume different, is that you may need to include a research section. Many undergraduate universities that specialize in the sciences have research opportunities.
Becoming a research assistant is an excellent way to gain the experience medical schools will be looking for and which could later assist you in your medical career.
When listing research, it is much like listing work experience. List the location, the specific research team you were a part of, and when. Use the next few lines to add a few details about the research or your role.
Sample Research Positions
St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Radiological Sciences, Summer 2009
Researched in the radiological laboratories for 12 weeks using innovative equipment to discover bone anomalies in children.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summer Undergraduate Research Program, Summer 2008
Participated in an eight-week program focused on stem cell research and exploring regenerative medicine and applications for wider use.
Complete medical school applicant resume sample
Driven and dedicated student looking to gain the essential knowledge and skills to excel at a career as cardiologist and surgeon.
Overseas Volunteer in Nepal | Youth Choir Director | Fluent in Spanish | Chemistry Tutor | Women’s Shelter Volunteer
Love Volunteers, Nepal
Hospital & Health Outreach, Summer 2019
Paired with a resident Nepalese doctor and nurses to observe and shadow. Assisted with medical care and performed educational outreach with the community
Eve & Daughters Women’s Shelter
Organized and collected donations for the shelter. Educated women and teen girls on femine health and safety. And made them aware of resources in the community for education, jobs, and childcare.
Youth Choir Director, 2015-2018
Instructed the township’s youth choir for their three annual performances. Selected music, taught the principles of music, and led and coached the children to be performance ready.
Bachelor of Arts English, 2014-2018
- GPA 3.9
- Minor in Spanish
- Participant in the Health Scholars Program
- 2020 MCAT – 521
Biology Internship – Summer, 2018
Participated in an eight week research internship with the department of Biological Engineering. Focused on research pertaining to assistive medical devices.
GORUP ( Georgetown Undergraduate Research Program) Participant – Fall 2017 – Fall 2019
Participated in a research project aimed at identifying barriers for spanish speaking immigrants and american born individuals when entering the medical and health services field.
Applying to medical school requires a lot of prepwork long before you are ready to fill out the application or take the MCAT.
If you think a field in medicine is your future path, then it is suggested you start working towards medical school acceptance as early as your first year of college.
Consider options to volunteer, participate in research, shadow or work in a health clinic or doctor’s office and to gain as much hands on experience in the realm of helping other people as you can.
If you are making a mid-career switch, think of all the amazing life opportunities you have already experienced that you can apply towards a career in medicine.
- Long term prep work is key
- A degree in science is great, but a degree in humanities is proving to be just as beneficial
- Being well rounded is a plus when applying to med school
Tips from Experts
“The most impressive activities are associated with the many qualities that make for an ideal physician, for example, tutoring or teaching can be linked to the physician’s role as an educator, empowering patients with knowledge. Volunteer activities reveal a sense of altruism and being of service to others.” – Dr. Ed Lipsit, associate director of advising at the MedSchoolCoach
“I don’t believe that for any individual, there is only one possible best choice. In my own case, I heard a calling to two careers and know many who have reinvented themselves in a variety of roles. One of the wonderful things about a career in medicine and the other health professions is that the journey has so many possible itineraries and destinations. I would hope that none of you will ever feel hemmed in or confined by early choices.” – Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, professor of biochemistry and chemistry at Duke University Medical Center
“I have memories [of patients who trusted me in medical school] that are so vivid. They’re crystal clear, and there’s a common theme. … Those memories can sustain you. When you’re tired or burned out, think back on them, and think about what you have been given.” – Dr. Derrell Kirch, President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Making the decision to apply to medical school is not a decision one makes lightly. There are likely months and years of thoughts put into this before you make the decision.
The best advice we can offer, based on all the resources we read through, is to prepare early and thoroughly. Have a goal in mind and use your undergrad academic career to work towards it.
Great doctors are made up of all types of people from all types of demographics and backgrounds, so focus on what makes you a unique candidate as you showcase yourself on your med school resume.