Engage in additional service activities

Service is one of the key components of a health professions application. If you are worried that your application is lacking in service-oriented experiences, it may be worthwhile to take a growth year (or more than one growth years) and seek out service activities that are meaningful to you and can add richness and depth to your future applications. Keep in mind that service is at the core of any pre-health profession, and it is important to show that you have authentically pursued community service and volunteer opportunities that are important to you.

Nationally, the data shows that around two-thirds of health professions applicants have taken at least one growth year. Given the additional years many people are taking to bolster their candidacies before applying, this means that the average number of service hours an applicant applies with is rising. Historically, our office has encouraged applicants to apply with around 200 hours of community service experience; recently, the AAMC has reported that the average number of community service hours an applicant applies with these days is around 400 hours.

Growth years not only allow for more time to engage in clinical or research work, they also allow additional time to give back. It is important to note that not all community service activities have to be unpaid positions. We have seen plenty of applicants engage in year-long work opportunities through organizations like AmeriCorps.

To view specific examples of non-Uconn related service experiences past applicants have pursued, visit our website’s page about Community Service, linked here.

When thinking about what kinds of service experiences to pursue, our office encourages you to think about what your interests and strengths are, and how you can select opportunities that align with those. For instance, if you know you have an interest in working with underserved and minority communities in the future, seek out experiences that allow you to work with those populations and deepen your sense of understanding around social determinants of health and barriers to accessible care. If you think you would like to work with pediatric populations in the future, choose experiences that allow you to work with children and develop your social skills in that realm.