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Finding Creative Experiences to Supplement Canceled Activities Due to COVID

Wondering what to do, now that your apprenticing/shadowing experiences have been canceled? Your place of service has closed down for this pandemic? How to learn and serve in this unique time is another challenge you might be facing. Here are some things you can do. But think of some on your own! Be creative! People on admissions committees will LOVE hearing about things you did. 

  1. How about a “tour” of the organ systems? Here’s what I mean. Take a couple of weeks to several weeks to do this on each, depending upon the system and how much you want to delve into things. It is important to BE SYSTEMATIC and log your hours just like you would if it was in-person shadowing.

First, choose a system! Visual system (my personal fave!); Cardiovascular System; Respiratory System; Digestive System; Renal System; Muscular System; Nervous System; Endocrine System; Immune System; Reproductive System; Skeletal System; Integumentary System


  • Spend some time with the ANATOMY of the System. Look at illustrations and cadaver dissections
  • Ask yourself, then find answers about the vascularization in the system, the innervation in the system. What parts of the anatomy perform which functions? Are there important relationships in this system?
  • Explore the PHYSIOLOGY in various parts of the system.
  • Find some common DISEASES AND DISORDERS in this system.
  • What LABORATORY information and IMAGING techniques are used related to this system?
  • What are the TREATMENT MODALITIES used for these problems? Surgical? Medical?
  • What QUESTIONS should be asked in the History and Physical exam related to this system?

This is the best one:
Go to YouTube and search for “How to perform a physical exam in the                   system.

It’s certainly not the same as being IN THE ROOM with a doctor who is taking care of a patient and their family, but it will be fun and interesting.

  1. Read a book by a physician. There are some wonderful physician authors out there. Start with these, but then go explore on your own. Again, BE SYSTEMATIC, log your hours, do it regularly, and make notes!
Don't know where to start? Here are some great physician authors:
  • Sir William Osler
  • Abraham Verghese
  • Richard Selzer
  • Oliver Sacks
  • Atul Gawande
  • Perri Klass


  1. Read a book about medicine. Do you love medicine? Are you excited about this journey? The you’ll love ANY of these books – another way to spend some QUALITY time while you are staying safe/keeping others safe at home. Again, BE SYSTEMATIC, log your hours, do it regularly, and make notes!
50 Books to Read If You Love Medicine

  1. Offer to help with homeschooling children. Lord knows both the parents and the children who have suddenly found themselves in this situation need your help!

  2. Serve your community: There are still so many people who need us. Think about helping out! Gather some friends to help the effort.
  • Volunteer at a food shelter or food delivery service like SHIPT
  • Work at a grocery store
  • Gather supplies for a non-profit
  • Donate blood or plasma
  • Raise money for a good cause
  • Research how to help the American Red Cross
  • Look in your “local paper” for ways to help

  1. People have also worked as a remote scribe (See the Robin Company) or even found an opportunity to do tele-apprenticing.


  1. Sign up for The Great Courses – they have master teachers in EVERYTHING!! You can diversify yourself by learning about things in other areas. Develop new interests, or learn about something you always wanted to know more about. It’s $20 per month, so make the most of a month or two, or share with a friend. Take notes, be organized and scheduled, and set goals.
The Great Courses


  1. Be a Ted Talk enthusiast. Same thing here, learn something new, explore your interests. Explore medicine topics. Set Goals, log your studies. Start a Ted Talk Group of friends, like a book club, only Ted!


  1. Other miscellaneous creative ideas from recent applicants themselves:


    • Systematic study of Gray’s Anatomy
    • Systematic study of organ systems
    • Reading books by physicians
    • Reading books about patients, diseases, policy
    • Contact Tracing
    • Other municipal efforts During Pandemic: Helping collect and organize PPE, Assisting testing and vaccination
    • Making masks
    • Data Entry
    • E-Scribing (Robin HC, AmeriCorps and more)
    • EMT training with community college OR local fire department
    • Virtual grief counseling
    • Five-week virtual Seminar Series at the CDC
    • Moved to another city which had more opportunity to volunteer at hospitals
    • Medical Reserve Corps: chapters in every state, PH education and awareness; go to to find local corps office
    • Volunteering in the NICU as a baby cuddler


    • Virtual visits to a residential or assisted living facility for residents there
    • Crisis text hotline
    • Food Pantry stocker
    • Food Delivery Service
    • Grocery Store work
    • Developed STEM activity kits for local middle schoolers
    • Tutoring for home-schooled kids to relieve parents
    • Fundraise for a good cause by baking
    • Virtual bike ride (Texas 4000) still able to raise $100+K for breast cancer
    • Virtual 5K for breast cancer
    • Taught/assisted residents of nursing home with ZOOM platform so they could enjoy visits from family.
    • Facilitate a blood drive


    • Learn a language
    • Study an instrument
    • Reading; log your books; start a book club; start a medical book club
    • Dance lessons
    • Took up writing/journaling

Dr. Judianne Kellaway

About the author: Dr. Kellaway is the Associate Dean for Admissions and Outreach at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. She is a board certified ophthalmologist specializing in diseases of the vitreous and retina. Long SOM hosts an online community for prospective applicants where they host webinars, panels, and Q&A sessions at:

Inside Health Education

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