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Atlantis students in the 2,000-year-old city of Toledo, Spain (an Atlantis site) (2016).

Individual Pre-Health Stories

Alpha Epsilon Delta vs. Phi Delta Epsilon: How do I know which one (or if one) is right for me? – One Pre-Med’s View

Marissa profile

About Marissa

Marissa is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Health Sciences. During the summer of 2019, Marissa participated in the Atlantis shadowing program in Trento, Italy, and now works as an Alumni Representative with the company. She is currently applying to medical school where she hopes to become a primary care physician.

If you are a student interested in medical school, then you are probably looking for opportunities to stand out during the application process. Depending on where you go to school, you may have heard of pre-medical societies, organizations that exist to help students navigate and stand out during the path to medical school. Before deciding if joining a society is right for you, take the time to learn about each organization! 

Alpha Epsilon Delta vs. Phi Delta Epsilon: What is the difference?

Alpha Epsilon Delta (commonly known to students as “AED”) is a national health professional honors society that is dedicated to helping students develop as future healthcare professionals. AED functions to prepare and expose students to medicine and other healthcare-related fields, such as dentistry, optometry, and pharmacy. Depending on the chapter, there are a variety of events and opportunities for students. For instance, at my university’s chapter, they often host informational sessions with local healthcare professionals. This is a great way for students to engage with physicians outside of a shadowing setting. If you are a student who is still open to other careers in healthcare, AED can provide a wide-range of exposure. In addition, as an honors society, AED offers four different scholarships each year to students in the organization. Earning a scholarship is a way to help pay for medical school, which can be expensive. 

Phi Delta Epsilon (commonly known to students as “PhiDE”) is an international medical fraternity that aims to shape students into physicians who are passionate about creating positive impacts for those around them. Unlike AED, PhiDE is an organization strictly for aspiring physicians. Uniquely, the fraternity also has chapters available for students currently in medical school. As a fraternity, PhiDE is dedicated to providing service to members in the community. Their main philanthropic partner is Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. Each chapter of PhiDE works with a local CMN Hospital to volunteer and help fundraise. Events that chapters may host include bake sales or 5K races. Participating in philanthropy events through PhiDE is a great way to gain important service hours that medical school admissions are looking for. Additionally, PhiDE provides other fun opportunities such as an immunology study abroad program in London and Leadership Institute Conventions in major cities across the United States. 


Both AED and PhiDE are organizations that provide pre-med students with the ability to network with other students of similar interest. Making friends with other pre-meds is a great way to share resources and tips for success. For example, if you were interested in another pre-medical experience, such as Atlantis shadowing programs, but do not want to participate alone, reaching out to other students in AED or PhiDE is a great place to start. The journey to medical school is often difficult and demanding, so having peers to study with and lean on are excellent ways to maintain positivity and resilience. Furthermore, being a part of societies like AED and PhiDE are great opportunities to seek out leadership positions. Learning how to lead teams and projects is a very valuable skill that medical schools look for when they review applicants. 

It is important to note that you will have to apply to join both of these societies. For more information on the application process, I recommend reaching out to your specific university chapter, as each application may vary between universities. If your school does not have a chapter of AED or PhiDE, you can check out the national websites (listed above) for more information on how to start your own chapter, should you be interested!


When choosing extracurricular activities, it is important to select opportunities that are interesting to you. Joining a pre-medical society may not be the best idea if you are only doing it to look good on applications. In order to get the true benefits of any program, you have to be passionate about their missions and what they aim to serve. I do want to stress that your ability to get accepted into medical school is never contingent on your participation in a pre-medical society.

Even though I chose not to join AED or PhiDE, that does not mean that you shouldn’t take the time to see if these organizations are right for you. There are many benefits that can come from serving in an honors society or fraternity. At the end of the day, medical schools are looking for three main things: healthcare exposure, high academic performance, and specific core competencies. Participating in a pre-medical fraternity is a great way to become a strong applicant for medical school. If you are concerned about balancing a fraternity with your academic load, there are other extracurricular opportunities, such as Atlantis shadowing programs that occur over school breaks. Ultimately, what you choose to pursue should be something that you enjoy. Taking the time to find unique experiences is a great way to embody the qualities medical schools are looking for.

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

John Daines headshot.

John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Megan Branson headshot.

Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
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Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
Kayla Riegler headshot.

Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

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Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.