Some applicants begin to relax after finishing their personal statement, but now isn’t the time to slack off. The Work and Activities section is also an important contributor to first impressions, and gives admissions committees an idea of who you are beyond the statistics.
You can include up to 15 extracurricular entries with a 700 character limit for each. Three of these experiences can be deemed “Most Meaningful”, and you’ll get an additional 1,325 characters in an expanded section to write about them. You have less characters in the Work and Activities section, but it’s still possible to show rather than tell.
There are 18 AMCAS categories to choose from, and each activity can only be classified by one of them. Choose wisely and make sure the usual medical school extracurriculars are covered such as shadowing, medical and non-medical volunteering, research, and some form of patient exposure.
- Artistic Endeavors
- Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical
- Community Service/Volunteer – Not Medical/Clinical
- Conferences Attended
- Extracurricular Activities
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Leadership – Not Listed Elsewhere
- Military Service
- Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical
- Paid Employment – Not Medical/Clinical
- Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
- Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant
Begin by writing out every extracurricular experience you’ve had during college up until the time of your application. Include each of these points in each entry:
– How long you’ve spent doing it
– Your responsibilities and accomplishments
– Your impact
– Any qualities you demonstrated (much like in your personal statement)
For example, I volunteered with an animal shelter in college. Here’s how I’d break it down:
– Time spent: 3 hours once a week for 8 months
– Responsibilities: Cleaning cages, administering medication, and socializing with both animals and people at cat adoption centers
– Impact: Helped cats overcome their trauma/neglect to find compatible forever homes.
– Qualities: Patience, Kindness, Determination
My duties every Friday morning consisted of cleaning cages, replenishing kibble, and administering medications. After several months, I was asked by our coordinator to start socializing the kittens in my care in addition to the usual tasks. Although it was frustrating at times to get them to come out of their shell, the persistence was worthwhile when the kittens warmed up to people and ultimately found their forever homes at our adoption events. Tending to shelter animals is similar to tending to patients in that the end goal may not be reached right away, but they can improve when given time and dedicated care.
For each Most Meaningful essay, in addition to those 4 points above, include what you’ve learned and how you grew from it. Hopefully, at least one of these is a medically related experience, but don’t force it. Be true to yourself and choose ones that actually mean the most to you.
Frequently asked questions about the W&A:
Do I have to use all 15 entries?
It’s alright to not fill up all 15 entries, and most admissions committees can usually tell when you’re including entries to fill up space. Quality over quantity!
If I discussed an experience in my personal statement, should I write in the W&A?
Yes, you should also include experiences you’ve discussed in your personal statement in your W&A section. When writing about them here, approach it at a different angle. If you wrote about a specific moment or interaction of an experience in your personal statement, tackle that same experience with a broader perspective in your W&A.
How do I list shadowing experiences?
List all of your shadowing experiences in one entry. If you have fewer experiences that lasted longer, they can be written in separate entries with more details.
– Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Summer of 2016)
– Observed orthopedic surgeries
– Primary contact: Dr. X, MD
How do I list publications?
List as many publications as possible in AMA format.
Can I include expected hours for activities I’ll be still be doing after submitting my application?
Yes, you can include the projected hours for activities you’ll be continuing after the submission of AMCAS or AACOMAS. Keep in mind that these entries are not editable once submitted.