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How many hours of patient care experiences do I need to apply to medical school?

Direct patient care experience for medical schoolPatient care experiences are obviously very important for the medical school application process. You want to show a medical school admissions committee that you’ve really dug deep into what it means to be a physician, and have experiences directly interacting with patients. After all, the basis of your future career is going to be these one-on-one interactions with patients.

So how do you get these experiences? A lot of times, volunteering at a hospital will get you something of these experiences, but oftentimes you have to go a little bit further. Sometimes you have to become a medical assistant, work in a nursing home, hospice setting,or work in a free clinic where you may be triaging patients, taking vital signs, or taking patient histories. Sometimes, doing international medical experiences can also lead to meaningful patient care experiences.

Patient exposure can be defined as direct interaction with patients in hands-on involvement in the care of people in the healthcare related environment, attending to their health maintenance, progression or end-of-life needs. It is important that the applicant becomes audible with working with and around people who are ill, sick, injured or diseased.

So what are the minimum number of hours the student should aim for? We typically look for at least 35 hours of this direct patient care experience, however the average successful applicant probably has closer to 50 hours or more. Remember though counting the number of hours is less important than the exact meaningful interactions you may get from each experience. These experiences will shape how you talk about your clinical exposure within medicine as well as how you write about it on your essays and secondary applications.