Working direct care at ACR is a great way to round out your med school application, according to Madison Duffy. It offers the perfect opportunity to gain pre-med experience in patient care as well as some unique additional opportunities for growth, says Madison, who will be graduating this Spring with a biology degree from the University of Minnesota. After a short break, she’ll be starting in with medical school at the U of M—her first choice school!
Madison wasn’t looking for a job when she learned about ACR Homes. She went to a Hiring Bash with a friend and realized ACR offered a great way to gain some pre-med experience in patient care that she knew she would need. She applied and was hired on the spot. Now two years later, she shares some of the experiences that helped her med school admission process.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
First of all, working direct care is definitely a humbling experience. Even after two years I still have questions. Sometimes I think, “I should know that!” You don’t get to be great right away. I started out part-time, and ended up doing full-time awakes for about five months. I think it’s a good idea explore different opportunities within direct care as your schedule allows. I floated a couple of times last summer and got to meet other staff and residents—it was great experience to put myself out there and be vulnerable.
You hear everyone in school looking for an internship to put on their resume. When I started working at ACR I noticed that ACR advertises internships and I thought, “Wow, this is incredible—patient care experience and an internship at the same job.” I was working with a resident who had a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and decided to do a research-based internship on MS. The research enabled me to better understand the science behind why she was having pain. Beyond the research component and being able to apply it directly with my resident, the internship allowed me to communicate with people across ACR, including the Residential Supervisor, the Program Director, the RN, and even the CEO Jim Nelson! I really liked the internship seminars led by Jim, and the opportunity to see what other interns were doing and bounce ideas off other people.
Additional experience and income
Another experience I took advantage of at ACR is that I became an on-campus recruiter for ACR at the University of Minnesota. Recruiting really helped me with my med school interviews, I think. As an OCR I had to constantly talk about my ACR experience with strangers and help them see the meaning and value of this job. It taught me how to translate my experiences into applicable and valuable experience for that given field. Recruiting is also a great way to boost your income with bonuses—I still can’t believe the benefit of that extra income. Being an OCR added a few activities to my schedule but it actually lowered my stress level because I had more money for the things I needed.
I was so pumped when I found out about the new mentoring program, too, where long-term staff mentor new hires. Those first couple of weeks at your house as a new hire can be so overwhelming. Being a mentor and supporting new hires is enjoyable and it’s another opportunity for personal growth in communication, to be able to initiate conversation and to be a leader. I have to have empathy and to learn each person’s preferred way of communicating.
ACR Internships also offer networking activities like the internship trip to the Mayo Clinic. In an internship seminar I told Jim Nelson about my interest in anesthesiology and as a result of that conversation he contacted an anesthesiologist he knew and arranged a networking seminar with him for myself and other employees. I also went on the Mayo Sports Medicine trip this past summer, and have seen lots of other professional development opportunities offered. Let people at ACR know what you’re interested in, and from my experience, they’ll help make opportunities happen if they can.
Reflection on pre-med experience at ACR
You get to list 15 involvements in the activities section of your med school application. Being involved in a variety of things, even within the same company, conveys that you are a well-rounded person. From my work at ACR I was able to include being a direct care professional, an intern, an on-campus recruiter, and a mentor—all great experiences. It’s a good idea to spend time reflecting on what you liked about each activity and why it was important, so that when you get an interview you can point out specific meaningful details in each one. Working at ACR, you have a lot of unique and meaningful pre-med experiences to pull from that another job in a different field isn’t necessarily going to give you. Almost all of my interviewers already knew about ACR so that was really easy. I didn’t need to take time out of my 7 minutes to explain it—I could just say, “I work for ACR Homes, do you know what that is? OK. There was this one time….”
Come to an ACR Hiring Bash to network with ACR employees like Madison who are headed to grad school and med school and learn how you can take advantage of all the opportunities ACR has to offer!