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"Describe your volunteering experiences"?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by circulus vitios, 03.25.12.

  1. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    I live in a small town so my clinical volunteering is limited to two local hospitals. One hospital only allows volunteers to do clerical work or run the gift shop. The other hospital lets volunteers errands: stock shelves, transport food from the cafeteria to different departments, etc. Both options are going to suck horribly but unless I want to drive an hour or two each way, I'm not going to find anything better.

    Given this, how often will medical schools expect me to talk about my 'volunteering experience,' and will it be held against me if I tell it like it is and don't embellish or outright lie?
  2. StoicJosher

    StoicJosher Reality?? Check. Lifetime Donor

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    "If you can smell patients, then it is a clinical experience."

    Edit: My point is that I doubt what you are doing is a clinical experience.
  3. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    I plan on shadowing this summer, which is definitely clinical experience.

    But I think these two scenarios (gift shop and errand runner) are as clinical as my volunteering can get.
  4. StoicJosher

    StoicJosher Reality?? Check. Lifetime Donor

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    Well, I guess the next best thing is try to run errands for the patients, wheel them around, get them food personally etc.
  5. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    It's not even delivering food to patients. It's deliver food to someone who works in the department, and they deliver the food to the patients. :laugh:
  6. DCBFan

    DCBFan

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    It's not about what you do. I certainly never personally accomplished anything of note while volunteering, and even if I had I wouldn't have written about it.

    Treat your volunteering as a chance to learn about your chosen profession, which will be tough to do from the gift shop so maybe try the other hospital. No adcom member wants to read a description of the activities undertaken by a volunteer but they might be interested on what it taught you about the practice of medicine in a small town hospital.
  7. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    Hmm, if you're not getting patient interaction you might need something more. Shadowing is good. Can you get a part-time job at one of the hospitals as a transporter?
  8. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    I really doubt it. I've looked for medically related jobs and they don't seem to hire anything other than professional (licensed) staff.
  9. MT Headed

    MT Headed snow, PBR, and bears Lifetime Donor

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    What about the blankets? Do you get to fold the hospital blankets? I've heard that's important to see on an application.
  10. kexy

    kexy

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    Are there any nursing homes, free clinics, or hospices in your town? If so, maybe try them for something with a little more patient interaction.
  11. Druggernaut

    Druggernaut Lifetime Donor

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    Yep. Every one of my interviews ended with the interviewer throwing a balled-up blanket at me, pulling out a stopwatch, and saying "Go."

    I was waitlisted at one place because my creases weren't crisp enough.:(

    But volunteering doesn't have to be clinical, and I'd argue that the vast majority of hospital volunteering is a complete waste of your time. Try getting involved with a Red Cross program if you can, or volunteer somewhere else that has nothing to do with medicine where you're actually doing something that matters and will actually have some impact on you as an applicant and human being.
  12. pkwraith

    pkwraith

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    Yes, volunteering doesn't have to be clinical. You seem to be caught up in the trap where you associate volunteering with hospital volunteering.

    Big Brothers Big Sisters, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Mentor programs, soup kitchens, free tutoring/coaching, philantrophies. Pretty much any geographical location has some sort of program that's fun to do and contributes to the community. The two choices you listed sound boring and horrible.
  13. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president

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    But you do need to have clinical volunteering on top of that, right?
  14. pkwraith

    pkwraith

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    No, you need volunteering and you need clinical, but not necessarily together. Many people do clinical volunteering because it saves time (2 for 1).

    If you shadow (which you should be doing anyway), you already take care of the clinical experience part.

    There's nothing that clinical volunteering demonstrates which you cannot do with separate clinical and volunteering experiences.
  15. MT Headed

    MT Headed snow, PBR, and bears Lifetime Donor

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    Wow, I bet you really bombed the FCAT too. Did you do enough practice tests?
  16. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president

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    Gotcha, thanks. I was just getting a little confused. I sort of thought you needed shadowing, non-clinical volunteering, clinical volunteering, something to show leadership (like tutoring, clubs), and research. I guess doing shadowing can be considered clinical exposure. Thanks again.
  17. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout barefoot jackrabbit Moderator

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    Shadowing is not universally considered "clinical experience" as it is typically passive observation. Catalystik has commented on this many times. "Clinical experience" may be volunteer or paid employment, but typically consists of interaction with patients (i.e. not just watching the doc talk to them and do everything) in some capacity. The best bet is to have shadowing (direct observation of doctors and what they actually do) and clinical experience (interaction with sick people who will treat you better/worse than they would a doctor. Can't stand to interact with patients? Probably shouldn't be a doctor. This is part of the purpose of the clinical experience "requirement.")
  18. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    Aside from driving three or four hours round trip to the nearest city, what do you suggest I do?
  19. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout barefoot jackrabbit Moderator

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    I would say this:
    And I would also say try approaching a private clinic (easier if your personal doc works out of one, and not one of the hospitals) and ask if you could volunteer to help patients fill out forms in the waiting room or something similar where they (hopefully) wouldn't have to worry about liability.

    The other option is to go with the hospital that has you run errands and see if you can swing delivery of meals to patient's rooms or something.

    Your situation is difficult, though, and I didn't mean to criticize your efforts with my comment about shadowing/clinical experience.
  20. Dei gratia

    Dei gratia

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    This :thumbup:
  21. Joe the Plumber

    Joe the Plumber

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    Agreed. I (at least in my mind) group what I do into clinical experience or clinical exposure. CNA course, CNA work, CNA volunteering = clinical experience. Primary care workshop, shadowing = clinical exposure.
  22. TriagePreMed

    TriagePreMed Removed

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    You are not expected to be saving the world. As long as you have something to say and don't come off as doing it to check a box, you'll be fine.

    Sent from my SCH-R910 using Tapatalk
  23. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    With my options being what they are, I am pretty much doing it to check a box. I sure as hell don't want to work in a gift shop or push around carts of food to hospital workers.

    I guess I'll see if there are any other places I'm missing before I commit to this misery.
  24. pfaction

    pfaction

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    I was in this position before, but I got to deliver medications to the patients bedsides if ICU, or to their carts when it was a regular inpatient. This included the burn wards, etc. It just takes time, at least for me. I was stuck sorting meds for the first year, but the second year I was allowed to go up to the floors, deliver meds, etc.
  25. starfly

    starfly

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    Volunteer because you want to help. Not because you want to get accepted to med school. The point is to show interest and compassion. Find something you care about... even if it's picking bottles up off the beach for an hour a week. Medical schools will ask you about volunteering (as anyone would) but they'll ask WHY you did it. If your answer is "Because I wanted to be accepted to medical school" that won't cut it, the experience will likely be ignored and may even be frowned upon. Its about caring and giving back. Not an application. Not judging! Just trying to be helpful.
  26. AllDaWEI

    AllDaWEI 百戰百勝,非善之善者也;不戰而屈人之兵 ,善之善者也

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    I think that this is a little bit naive. It is well known that volunteering is an unwritten requirement. How many non-pre-meds are lining up at the doors of hospitals in order to do free labor? Pre-meds on SDN have lists full of volunteer activities that make them look like saints compared to anyone who is not pre-med. Are pre-meds just special morally superior people?

    Yes, there are pre-meds who genuinely enjoy what they do. But when everyone is volunteering, they also feel the need to. So do it, or application can be sunk.
  27. starfly

    starfly

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    I completely agree with the fact that it is an unwritten "requirement" (from a competition stand point.) I do not agree that it is a naive response or point of view. Most premeds say that they want to become doctors because they want to "save lives" and "help people." If that is truly why they want to do it, why wouldn't they want to help people throughout college? Medical school isn't the only way to do it. Volunteering is another way.
  28. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    This is pretty shocking, every hospital I've worked or volunteered at have strict limits on who can administer meds. As a CNA I cannot deliver meds. Joint Commission would go nuts if a volunteer was administering meds in my hospital!
  29. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president

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    I doubt most premeds want to go into med school primarily because they want to help people or save lives.
  30. AllDaWEI

    AllDaWEI 百戰百勝,非善之善者也;不戰而屈人之兵 ,善之善者也

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    I'm sure a lot of pre-meds want to help and have a meaningful career. But I doubt too many are looking to provide free labor at the hospital cleaning sheets. Another interesting tidbit is you will get a lot of flak on SDN for admitting you don't want to volunteer. There is double-standard for pre-meds. How many of your non-pre-med family and friends volunteer to the extent of pre-meds? Not many I guessing. So why are pre-meds considered to be poor doctor material if they would rather do other things they enjoy in free time? It sounds like the OP is in a bad situation.
  31. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    I'm not going to lie, I don't want to volunteer. I'm doing it because it's required and I'm not going to enjoy it, especially with my options both sucking.
  32. AllDaWEI

    AllDaWEI 百戰百勝,非善之善者也;不戰而屈人之兵 ,善之善者也

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    Welcome to the medical school admissions game!!! :smuggrin:
  33. Joe the Plumber

    Joe the Plumber

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    Ditto. This is a big-time no-no.
  34. syoung

    syoung MS-1

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    So what's really the consensus on this:
    Get some sort of patient interaction activity (volunteer or work) through hospital, hospice, private/free clinics... that is both dedicated and meaningful and gives you an idea of what it's like to interact with patients? Is that the message? This can include convalescent homes yes?

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