How To Find The Best Extracurricular For Med School (Premed Guide)

Good extracurriculars for premed students are essential for getting into med school. They are just as important as your GPA and MCAT score.

When looking for the best extracurricular activity for you, this is what we recommend:

Rather than doing as many extracurricular activities as possible, focus on narrowing it down to one long-term activity that you are passionate about. This activity doesn’t have to be clinically related but should benefit your community in some way. Do this one thing all 4 years of college and you will have something extremely valuable to talk about with med school admissions teams.

You’ll have a lot more time during college to do other extracurriculars and that’s fine. My point is to have one “main” extracurricular that you devote most of your time. Something that defines you to a certain degree so that people see you as the authority in that one thing.

Keep reading this article to learn about:

  • What defines a premed extracurricular and how much they matter to med schools
  • How to find your niche
  • Great examples of premed extracurriculars for ideas
  • Common questions answered about extracurriculars.

What Are Premed Extracurriculars?

I think it’s important to define what a premed extracurricular is in order to understand which ones are best for med school.

Simply put, premed extracurriculars are any kind of activity that doesn’t include your classes or the MCAT. AKA, outside of the curriculum.

Therefore, premed extracurriculars include activities like shadowing, research, scribing, volunteering, and much more.

How Much Do Extracurriculars Matter For Med School?

Extracurriculars matter a lot for med schools. Without any extracurriculars, it is virtually impossible to get into med school. You can have a 4.0 GPA and 520+ MCAT but without some kind of interesting experience, your application will simply be tossed to the side.

In the past, you could get away with mediocre extracurriculars that simply checked off the right boxes on your application. However, med schools are becoming more and more competitive to get into which means you will have to find something unique.

There’s a bright side to this though. Because a larger emphasis has been placed on extracurriculars, you have the opportunity to get into med school despite having sub-par grades and MCAT scores.

If you are struggling with bad grades, you can redeem yourself with extraordinary extracurricular activities.

How Many Extracurriculars Should You Have For Med School?

Again, the emphasis should not be put on the number of extracurriculars but rather on the quality of extracurriculars.

You should have 1 “main” extracurricular activity as I defined above. Something that is niched down, you are passionate about, and helps your community in some way.

In addition to this, there are some activities you should have that check the necessary boxes. We will go over these activities in a section devoted to this below.

All in all, this will put you at around 3 to 5 extracurriculars.

Finding Your Niche

When finding the best extracurricular for med school the first step is finding your niche.

There is something important I want to share with you:

The riches are in the niches.

What does this mean? Well, it’s actually a business/entrepreneurial quote. Something I first heard from Pat Flynn who is a famous online entrepreneur. But it essentially means that if you niche down into something small and focus all your efforts on it, you will be an authority in that niche and succeed.

This translates very nicely into premed extracurriculars. When you find that niche extracurricular and devote a ton of time to it, you will be the authority in it. This will make med schools notice you and differentiate you from the crowd.

To find this niche, think about activities that benefit your community and that you are passionate about.

  • Do you enjoy working with kids? If you do, find a unique organization that works with a subgroup of children and get involved.
  • Another example is flying airplanes. Can you use your pilot abilities to benefit your community in some way?

5 Good And Unique Premed Extracurricular Examples

To help inspire you, here are 5 unique examples of extracurriculars for premeds:

  1. Scribing. Not exactly niched down, because a lot of premeds do it. But still a great experience regardless. Plus, if you do it for years you can end up in a leadership role as a scribe manager/trainer.
  2. Aviation. I love the example of being a pilot because I am a general aviation pilot myself. Being a pilot is a great extracurricular for premeds because, with enough experience and ratings, you can possibly land something like a bush pilot gig that helps communities in rural areas.
  3. Volunteering for mentally handicapped kids. I have a friend who did this in college for all 4 years. Because she stuck with this program for so long, she was eventually able to be the coordinator for the mentally handicapped kids in our area. Great leadership role with a clear mission to help the community.
  4. Working for a physician abroad program. I had friends in college that did this. There are programs out there that will set you up with a team aiding communities in foreign countries. Because a lot of these are 3rd world countries, you have the opportunity to be involved in medical procedures that you wouldn’t be able to do in the states.
  5. Start your own volunteer organization. This one might be a little bit too entrepreneurial for most but you would be surprised how easy it is to start a simple volunteer group in your community. Funding is easy because it’s all free labor and other premed students are always looking for volunteer gigs. You could even reach out to your local government for help.

Extracurriculars That Are Basically Required For Med School

We discussed having your “main” extracurricular activity that you will do for multiple years during college, but there are some other activities that are essentially expected for you to do. We recommend trying to attend some activities in all the sections below if you can.

  • Shadowing: Med schools want to see that you shadowed a physician so that they know you understand what medicine is really like. Especially a primary care physician.
  • Volunteering: Obviously a desire to help others is an important trait of a physician. Therefore, you need to have some level of volunteer hours on your application when applying to med school.
  • Clinical Experience: This can be scribing, volunteering at a hospital, certified nurse assistant, being an EMT, or anything related.
  • Research: Probably the least important out of all these experiences. I actually got into med school with zero research experience. But if you can gain some sort of research opportunity, it’s very beneficial.

Medical Extracurriculars For High School Students

As a high school student, you shouldn’t really be concerned with extracurriculars. But if you are, there are some opportunities you can take advantage of.

One of the best high school experiences I heard about in a while was becoming an EMT. Being an EMT is a pretty common experience for premed students to do. But if you start as early as high school, you may have the opportunity to become a paramedic in college.

Being a paramedic as a premed student is a huge deal. There are very few people applying to med school with experience as a paramedic. This will definitely make you stand out as an applicant.

How To Write About Your Extracurriculars On Med School Applications

When you write about your extracurriculars, the key is storytelling.

Medical school admissions committees read a ton of premed essays every year. If you aren’t getting their attention quickly, you may lose them and the opportunity to get into that med school.

Within the first few sentences of the essay or extracurricular experience description, tell them about a unique story that happened to you during that experience. In addition to making the story captivating, you want the story to convey a learning experience for you that will help you during the journey to becoming a physician.


Is 12 activities enough for AMCAS?

A lot of premed students stress out about making sure they have enough activities to fill the 15 spots available on the AMCAS application. My advice to you is not to worry about it.

Focus on quality over quantity. Filling activity spots on the AMCAS for the sake of filling spots is not helpful.

What hobbies do med schools like?

When it comes to hobbies, there isn’t anything in particular that med schools care about. They just want to see that you are passionate about things besides medicine. It’s another way to diversify yourself.

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