Undergraduate students who become successful doctors uniformly possess a strong desire to help others, a love of learning, and intellectual curiosity. They also display maturity, integrity, honesty, respect for the rights of others, critical thinking, problem solving, empathy, and the ability to handle stress and cope with adversity. Other considerations include:
Extracurricular activities are a good way to demonstrate positive personal traits such as leadership, integrity, ability to work in teams, communication skills, and responsibility. Wooster abounds in opportunities including sports, theater, music, pre-professional clubs like the Pre-Health Club, program houses, advocacy and activist groups, the Wooster Volunteer Network, and community service. Because quality is valued over quantity, consider taking a leadership role and/or remaining with the activity for a length of time that shows true commitment.
Knowledge of the Field
The more information you have about a specific field or career, the more clearly you can articulate the reasons you want to pursue it. Pursuing a career in the health professions is a significant commitment that is not necessarily the best fit for everyone. You are strongly encouraged to invest some time talking about your decision with faculty advisors, a member of the Pre-Health Advising Committee, the Pre-Health Advising Coordinator, or another advisor in the Office of Career Services. Clarity about your plans and motivations are essential to making you a stronger applicant with the confidence that you are making a well-informed decision.
Job shadowing (.pdf) is an excellent way to learn firsthand about health care professionals and clinical settings. The Cleveland Clinic Wooster and Wooster Community Hospital both invite Wooster students to shadow their physicians and other health professionals. Shadowing opportunities can be set up through the Pre-Health Advising Coordinator. You should also seek contacts through your family, friends, and personal physicians to establish connections that can be set up individually. Most programs do not require shadowing experience, but it is a terrific way to expand your knowledge on the practice of health care.
Research experience gives you the opportunity to show that you can work independently and creativity on challenging problems. You already have the built-in benefit of the nationally recognized Senior Independent Study Program, in which you explore an area of interest for a full year in collaboration with a faculty mentor. Earlier opportunities, such as the Sophomore Research Program and various on-campus summer research programs, can be valuable experiences for intellectual and personal exploration. It is highly recommended that students spend at least one summer doing some type of science research. Programs for research-focused careers such as M.D./Ph.D. and Medical Scientist require substantial research experience for acceptance.
State of Residence
State-supported medical, dental, and veterinary schools are usually required by law to give preference to applicants who are in-state residents. In 2006-2007, for example, 71% of first-year medical students entering the Ohio medical schools were residents of Ohio. (At Case Western Reserve University, the only private medical school in the state, Ohio residents make up 23% of the Class of 2010.) The best chance for admission into a medical, dental, or veterinary school is within the state of residence. It is also less expensive to attend a school within your state of residence.
The application gives you the opportunity to express yourself, explain your motivations, and allow yourself to stand out from other applicants. One sure way of ensuring an interesting personal statement is to be an interesting person. The way to do that is to do interesting things.