Medical School Applicants and Their Activities

Ever wonder about other medical school applicants? Not all premeds start their medical school entry right after completing their medical school admission requirements.

There are a lot of different paths premeds will take before their medical school admission offer arrives or even before applying to medical school. Some applicants may be nontraditional (career-changers), need to obtain additional financing or need to strengthen their application.

Here’s a list of extracurricular activities medical school applicants have engaged in before starting medical school.

Percent of Activities Between College and Medical School Matriculation

  • Worked at Another Career 33%
  • Worked to Secure Financing 12%
  • Took Courses to Strengthen Application 16%
  • Took Premed Courses for First Time 8%
  • Pursued Graduate Studies 13%
  • Raised a Family 4%
  • Traveled 14%

This may surprise you but most individuals who plan on becoming a doctor have worked in another career. This is almost two times more than the number of premeds who have taken courses to strengthen their application.

Disclaimer: when this survey was conducted participants had the option of choosing more than one choice, thus one premed could have traveled, raised a family, etc.

I am sure many of you see it even among your pre-med friends that nowadays not everyone is going directly from college to medical school.

A Surgeon's View on Time Off

If you speak with doctors you will find a lot of them support the idea of taking time off before starting medical school. I once had “dinner with a doc” (premed event) and the surgeon at our table avidly supported this concept.

He even stated as a breast cancer surgeon he finds time in his busy schedule to travel for weeks at a time. Such as taking three weeks off to go mountain biking and hiking in South America.


If you have the option to go abroad either while in college or right after, definitely take advantage of this opportunity.

Travelling will give you a new perspective on life and also provide many talking points which other medical school applicants will not have throughout all stages of the medical school application process.

In the words of the breast cancer surgeon…

You guys and girls are all relatively young and this is the time to go out and explore before you have family and career responsibilities.

You will have the rest of your life to devote to medicine and family so take time now to do what you enjoy.