Make your AMCAS Work and Activities section stand out!

AMCAS medical school admissions work and activities
By Pallavi

As a medical school applicant, one of the most critical sections of your application is the Work and Activities section on the AMCAS. Through this section you have the opportunity to showcase your amazing experiences, clinical skills, and personal qualities to medical schools. However, it can be tough to pick which activities to choose, how many to talk about, and how to describe them. In this blog post, I will discuss some tips for writing an excellent Work and Activities section that will help you stand out!

The Basics

For this section, you can fill up to 15 entries. You will categorize each activity and then provide details in 700 characters. Additionally, you can designate three activities as your most meaningful experiences, for which you will have 1325 characters.

Choosing Relevant Activities 

Make sure you take the time to reflect on which activities you think are most relevant to your story as a medical school applicant. You want to be able to demonstrate your clinical passions, but also your leadership, service, research, and personal attributes. For example, if you are interested in pediatrics, volunteering at a children’s hospital or working as a tutor for underprivileged children could be excellent options to highlight. Be sure to provide specific details about each activity, including the length of time you participated, your role, and the impact you had. Make a list of all the activities (even if they are more than 15) you have been involved in and then move to the next step: putting them in buckets.

Organize Your Activities into Buckets

Since you only have space for 15 entries, you want to demonstrate the range of experiences you have had. Try to categorize each of your listed activities and then choose the ones that most appropriately demonstrate your qualities. While you definitely do not need to fill out all 15 spaces, ensure that you think carefully about which experiences have helped you grow or realize your passion for medicine. Currently, there are 18 AMCAS Work and Activities categories from which to choose:

  • Artistic Endeavors
  • Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
  • Community Service/Volunteer - Not Medical/Clinical
  • Conferences Attended
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies
  • Honors/Awards/Recognitions
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
  • Military Service
  • Other
  • Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
  • Paid Employment - Not Medical/Clinical
  • Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
  • Presentations/Posters
  • Publications
  • Research/Lab
  • Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

 

Within each category, you can further break down your activities into specific roles or responsibilities you held.

Describing the activity

Now comes the seemingly hard part, eloquently yet concisely capturing the details of the activity in 700 characters. Here are some tips on what to include:

Overview: If the title does not explain what the position is, include one brief sentence about the organization and its goals.

Your role: Make sure to emphasize your specific responsibilities and impact that you made

Narrative: Try to integrate memorable anecdotes, patient interactions, and your learnings from these experiences

Reflections and connection to medicine: Be sure to highlight how this role makes you better suited in the medical field OR highlight how it helped you develop personally. Did you face any difficulties? How did it influence your thoughts about the medical field or what kind of doctor you want to be?

Leadership: While there is a specific category for leadership, be sure to highlight other instances of when you took initiative as a leader

Awards/Publication/Recognition: Don’t be afraid to include any awards or recognition you might have received for your work. This helps add credibility as well!

Impact/Service contributions: Finally, make sure you explain your impact on the wider communities around you as well as the transformative impact the activity had on you!

Something that worked well for me was writing longer descriptions for my activities and then consulting peers/mentors on which elements they thought were most interesting or crucial.

Good luck and happy writing!

Pallavi attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a BA in Biology, a BSc in Economics, and an MS in Biology. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and she is now pursuing an MSc at Oxford University.

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