By Nancy Jiang, HBSc, MD

Nancy received her HBSc in Health Sciences from McMaster University in 2009 and MD from the University of Toronto in 2015. She is currently a radiology resident at McMaster University (Class of 2020). She was the recipient of the regional Best Volunteer Award from the Canadian Diabetes Association (2011).

Applying for medical school is a long and hard journey. Rest assured that it would be worth all your effort in the end! If you are thinking about medicine, having a good GPA alone is not enough. What distinguishes you are your extracurricular and volunteering experiences. Find an area that you are passionate about and get involved. For example, you can volunteer with a community organization or local chapter. National cardiovascular or cancer care associations are just some examples of organizations that have regional branches recruiting volunteers.

Here are five key points to keep in mind when identifying volunteer opportunities:

1. Ask around for volunteer opportunities; your friends, classmates, local community leaders, career centers at your school, etc. The chances are that there are always new programs and projects starting. You can be the founding member of a new initiative, or take on a leadership role and work on an existing initiative.

2. Work hard. Show dedication and your passion for providing a service to helping others. Bring your heart and enthusiasm into the experience!

3. Have fun. “Volunteering should not feel like a chore.” Consider your skill set and devise innovative ways to provide value to the community.

4. Pick your activity wisely. You need to consider your personal interests, areas for personal improvement, and your future career goals. Remember, volunteering is also a valuable opportunity for personal growth and networking. Spend some time to think about what the optimal activity for you will be.

5. Most importantly, it benefits your community! It is an excellent opportunity to experience the altruistic value of volunteering, which has a tremendous positive impact on personal growth and character.

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