Nothing is more critical to the success of your AMCAS application than how you craft your descriptions in the Work & Activities section. You need a team of smart, application-focused professionals who can ensure your AMCAS Work & Activities section distinguishes you and your drive as a medical school candidate.
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This exceptionally valuable service sets us apart. It includes all AMCAS Work & Activities Proofreading and adds in-depth editing along with detailed, objective feedback on issues that impact the success of your medical school application.
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In our feedback, we will tell you what specific improvements to make related to:
With this service, we identify and correct mistakes in basic English usage.
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The AMCAS Work & Activities section is your opportunity to communicate to medical schools what makes you a strong candidate for thriving not only in gaining a medical education but also developing into a future doctor.
Different from your personal statement, whose purpose is to narrate the experiences that have shaped who you are as a person and your path in pursuit of a career in medicine, the AMCAS Work & Activities section is aimed at describing the experiences you have had since starting college that embody the AAMC’s Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students.
Therefore, while there may be some overlap in the experiences between your personal statement and the AMCAS Work & Activities section, the purpose of their inclusion is different. How you describe them in your personal statement vs the AMCAS Work & Activities section would also be different.
The AAMC breaks its core competencies down into four categories: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Thinking & Reasoning and Science.
The five interpersonal competencies are: Service Orientation, Social Skills, Cultural Competence, Teamwork and Oral Communication.
Service Orientation means recognizing when others are in need and acting out of a sincere desire to help them. This could be at the level of the individual in need, a community in need, a town or city in need, a state or country in need, or a global need, or it could be acting at the global, national, state, city, town or community to address the needs of a community or group.
It can be out of an innate or instilled spirit of altruism or sense of personal responsibility toward the well-being of others.
Social Skills means the ability to recognize others’ goals, needs and desires and the way external events and aspects of their environment can affect their emotions and how they behave toward themselves and others. It means recognizing these through both verbal and nonverbal cues and adjusting one’s behavior in response to these cues. It means always treating others in confidence and respect.
Cultural Competence is knowing a person’s social and cultural background and the ways a person’s social and cultural background may influence their emotions, decisions, social interaction, and behavior toward self and others. “Cultural background” means any set of beliefs from a person’s background. These could be spiritual beliefs, stereotypes, biases or stigmas.
Cultural competence means recognizing the differences in influence one’s own cultural background has had on them compared to how another’s cultural background has had on the other person. It means thinking from the other person’s point of view and finding ways to communicate across the differences in background.
Cultural competence also means an intentional seeking to broaden one’s own cultural understanding through engaging in diverse and competing points of view as an opportunity for learning and mutual edification.
It means not just accepting others of different backgrounds but pursuing and embracing experiences with others of different backgrounds as opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Teamwork means, at its simplest, collaborating with others to achieve a common goal. It means pursuing and engaging in efforts that support that collaboration, whether that is leading, following or working in parallel, with a balance between autonomy and dependence that mutually edifies both the team member and the group in pursuit of their common goal.
On a deeper level, the greater a person’s social skills and cultural competence are, the greater their capacity for being a valuable team member will be.
Oral Communication is key to the sharing of information, which is the foundation of any collaboration and pursuit of a common goal. It includes not just speaking but the right choice of timing and tone and which words to say. It means listening actively to identify areas of miscommunication and adjusting one’s choice of timing, tone and words to resolve those areas of miscommunication.
Social skills and cultural competence both contribute significantly to effective oral communication.
Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others has, as its foundation, a strong sense of and adherence to personal, professional and academic integrity. This is demonstrated by maintaining a right demeanor and behavior toward oneself and others, and by encouraging this right demeanor and behavior in others in words and in one’s actions serving as an example to follow. Both one’s words and one’s actions are grounded in an understanding of ethical and moral principles and reasoning and in a commitment to resist temptations to deviate from them.
Reliability and Dependability means both making promises and keeping them. It also means recognizing when new information comes to light, such as an unforeseen event, requiring an adjustment to be made to a promise, and communicating the adjustment proactively to the one to whom the promise has been made. It also means recognizing one’s own faults and mistakes and taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions.
Resilience and Adaptability means being able to withstand the negative emotions and thoughts, including skepticism, cynicism and self-doubt, when a stressful or otherwise negative unforeseen event takes place. It means adjusting one’s demeanor and actions openly and effectively to continue in the pursuit of a goal in a changing environment. It means having a flexible and growth-oriented mindset that seeks opportunities and solutions in the face of unexpected barriers or other setbacks. Finally, it means having a short memory regarding one’s past failures or shortcomings.
Capacity for Improvement stems from the growth mindset that is also part of the resilience and adaptability competency. It includes having a vision of where you would like to be and establishing and pursuing a plan of developing the talents and skills needed to achieve that vision. It includes actively seeking and adopting feedback and doing so toward the achievement of a vision that may include personal or professional goals, or both.
THINKING & REASONING COMPETENCIES
Critical Thinking is the process of applying logic and reasoning and a focus on the facts in the assessment of a situation or problem and the development of possible approaches to improving or resolving that situation or problem.
Quantitative Reasoning is the ability to extrapolate patterns or conclusions from the assessment of numbers or data to describe or explain a phenomenon. It is also the ability to understand and assess the quantitative reasoning of others.
Scientific Inquiry combines an academic curiosity with the application of previously acquired knowledge in a systematic, disciplined approach to acquire and integrate additional knowledge toward the pursuit of solving a problem. It is the ability to distill a large problem into smaller, more-easily-solved problems and to formulate concise, actionable questions to guide inquiry into solving and validating the solutions to those problems. It is also the use of accurate and appropriate language to communicate about those questions, the efforts to answer them and the application of those answers as solutions to the problems that inspired the questions.
Written Communication is the ability to achieve the effective delivery of one’s idea in writing. It includes choosing the right moment and tone to achieve communicating one’s idea to another, and being able to do this through the careful selection of words and syntax.
Living Systems means applying Thinking & Reasoning Competencies to solve problems related to the biological of living beings functioning at the molecular, cell, organ or system level.
Human Behavior means applying Thinking & Reasoning Competencies as well as the Cultural Competence Interpersonal Competency to solve problems related to psychological, socio-cultural and biological factors that influence the health and well-being of individuals, both separately and as part of a community or society on a local, regional, national or global scale.
While you can select up to 15 experiences covering research, you should not feel any pressure to list that many. Keep in mind that medical school admission committees want to read about the experiences that were impactful for you, not simply 15 of your experiences.
To determine whether to include an experience, ask yourself: Which competency does this experience demonstrate, does this experience demonstrate the competency clearly, and was the experience a significant one for me?
If you can identify one or more competency the experience demonstrates and that the experience does so clearly, and the experience was a significant one for you, you should consider including it.
There are a couple of caveats to this, though. First is to think of the competencies being demonstrated by the experience. If you have multiple experiences all showing the same competency, then it may be best to choose just the one that is the strongest of those and include other experiences that show other competencies.
The other is to keep in mind that you are limited to a maximum of four experiences per experience type. These experience types include volunteer experience, employment, honors, awards, publications, and extracurricular activities. If you have more than four experiences in a given experience type, then prioritize the experiences according to the self-evaluation questions mentioned above.
For each activity you enter, you will need to assign a category to it. The options for category are: Artistic Endeavors, Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical, Community Service/Volunteer - Not Medical/Clinical, Conferences Attended, Extracurricular Activities, Hobbies, Honors/Awards/Recognition, 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, and Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant.
However, you can only include one activity per category, so choose carefully.
When entering an activity, you’ll be able to designate it as either “completed” or “anticipated.” While “completed” is for past activities, “anticipated” is for either present or planned activities—in other words, activities that have not been completed yet.
Certainly, any past or present activity is one you should consider for inclusion. Planned activities can be considered as well. Simply make sure to apply the self-evaluation questions mentioned above.
For each activity other than the ones you designate as “Most Meaningful Experiences,” you have up to 700 characters (including spaces) for the description. For the Most Meaningful Experiences, you have up to 1,325 characters (including spaces).
For each description, admissions committees want to see two questions answered. First is: What specifically made or makes this activity significant to you? Second is: What competency or competencies did or does this activity demonstrate about you or did you demonstrate in the activity?
On the question of what made or makes the activity significant, consider these questions: What specifically did you expect of the experience and what specifically did you find in the experience instead? How specifically did the experience shape you personally and/or your view of your future career? What specific barriers did you face and overcome in pursuing the activity? What specific challenges or problems did you solve? What impact did you have on others or the activity?
For each of these questions, when asking them of yourself about the activity, ask also what competency is demonstrated by your answer to the question. Make sure to include the relevant details that demonstrate that competency.
With the additional character limit given to the Most Meaningful Experiences, the approach used for the description of the other activities should be more developed. These experiences should have been or should be particularly transformative ones, so describe the impact the activity. What personal growth did you experience? And what impact did you have or are you having on the activity or on others through your experience in the activity?
Remember: The descriptions of your Work & Activities should not repeat what is already communicated in your CV. Instead, they should provide your insight into what has made those experiences particularly impactful for you.
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From the conciseness and clarity of your descriptions to what makes your meaningful experiences meaningful, we know what it means to get every detail right—and what it takes to make your AMCAS application attractive to medical schools.
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