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Pre-med COVID-19 FAQ

From the pre-med student listserv survey

Pre-med COVID-19 FAQ

From the pre-med student listserv survey

Clinical experiences

Healthcare experiences are still available but may be sparse

  • Scribe positions open (many moved to virtual)
  • Caretaker roles

Current students should subscribe to the pre-med listserv and regularly check it for posts for job openings, volunteering positions, or other pre-med related opportunities such as research or internships for summer

Volunteer with COVID TRACE programs

IE3 Virtual International Internships – 3 Health-related ones offered

U of Colorado Virtual Shadowing Program (Free or $50 for certificate)

Take the extra time to get trained and work in healthcare certifications, (often taught at community colleges), i.e.:

  • EMT
  • CNA
  • Phlebotomy

The best way is for current students to subscribe to the Pre-Med Listserv for updated opportunities and links to resources, such as this document with input from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP).

Access to clinics and hospitals is more restrictive for non-essential workers. But you may look into clinical certification trainings (i.e., EMT, CNA, or Phlebotomy) with the goal of getting paid positions. These trainings are usually offered at community colleges. Paid positions are still available and more accessible at this time than volunteer positions.

Most physicians are not allowing students to shadow at this time. Medical schools understand the limitations on students, but will still be looking for healthcare adjacent experiences. There are some virtual shadowing opportunities that you can do to supplement your experiences. You may try to make up for not shadowing by trying to get a paid position as a scribe or getting a certification as explained above in the first and previous question. You can also try doing some informational interviewing with willing physicians to try to learn more about their profession, their path to being a doctor, their daily routines, and their likes and dislikes about their role.

Medical schools are still looking for significant healthcare or healthcare-adjacent activities to be strong applicants to medical school. However, they are aware that these opportunities are limited and will still look for experiences that express your values and your service to others. You may have to rely on healthcare-adjacent activities more that still allow you to demonstrate your core competencies. Learn more about core competencies on the AAMC website.

Try to find activities that still show that you care about people and their well-being. Try to volunteer with organizations that serve your community, especially populations of people most in need. These activities may still be mostly online for now, but do your best to search for opportunities. Current students should subscribe to the pre-med listserv to learn more about the latest opportunities. Check in with your local community organizations and nonprofits (such as Community Outreach and Good Samaritan) to see how they may need support.

Likely shadowing will still be very restricted for quite some time. However, scribe roles are still available. Some companies and clinics have adapted to having scribes virtually, so that may be a growing option for students. Overall, there may be less positions, but there are still some available. So keep an eye out for postings!


Yes, the MCAT is still required for admission to medical school with no change to it being required in sight.

The MCAT has greatly increased safety protocols. They will also offer two times per test day to register for the exam. You can read more about the updates due to COVID-19 on the official MCAT website.

Medical school application process

As a good rule of thumb, you should check individual medical schools to see particular application requirements. You can also review general updates regarding COVID-19 and the medical school application process by going to the AAMC website for AMCAS (the MD school application system) and the AACOM website for updates for AACOMAS (the DO application system).

Make connections with professionals who are your instructors, research PI’s, and others that you work with or who supervise you in the various roles you have. Letters usually come from faculty, supervisors from paid jobs or unpaid roles, athletic coaches at the college level, and other volunteer coordinators. You will need to eventually need to minimally have 2 letters from science faculty and 1 letter from a physician. (You can also have additional letters from non-science faculty). Attend office hours when possible to meet with instructors. Alternatively, you can try to connect with faculty with more one-on-one meetings to discuss class materials, research interests, or other career goals.

For physicians, usually this would come from shadowing. In these times when shadowing is limited, you can try to connect with physicians from your community that may allow informational interviewing. You can try to also get paid clinical roles in which you’d work with physicians or have access to shadow them on the job, such as scribing, medical assisting, phlebotomy, etc.

Schools are doing virtual interviews at this time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each school will conduct virtual interviews differently. Some schools may have that information on their admissions websites, and others may not inform students until they invite them for interviews as an applicant.

The medical school application and review process is holistic. Medical schools want to see everything about you and assess you as a whole. There is not one single most important part. In saying that, they are very interested in your activities and how you reflect on your time you spend doing those activities, the skills and qualities you develop, and the things you learn from them. They also want to know your journey towards medical school through your personal statement. Medical schools value the reflections about who you are as a person, a student, a professional, and a future physician through your letters of recommendation. And they want to see that you demonstrate the core competencies. Learn more about core competencies on the AAMC website.

In general, you should do activities that you enjoy. Don’t just do activities just to do them because you think they’ll please medical schools. Find experiences that you would actually like to do and that incorporates your values and interests. Usually activities medical students do serve their community in some way. You want to demonstrate how you care about people, and that can be expressed in a variety of ways. Research can be a very valuable experience to develop critical thinking and data analysis skills, but it’s not critical that you have this experience if it does not interest you. You should also try to build leadership skills whenever possible, so seek out opportunities to take on leadership roles whenever you can, and it does not have to be just in the healthcare sphere.Try to do experiences that expose you to diverse groups of people from various backgrounds, whether culturally, ethnically, socioeconomically, physical ability, or otherwise. And lastly, find opportunities to challenge yourself and push you out of your comfort zone.

This varies for every individual. Gap years are never a bad thing. They allow students more time to gain valuable experience, build up finances, have other life experiences, solidify their interest in medicine, and take time to possibly address other personal matters that may need their attention.