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Advice- Peace Corps

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gonnif

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1) taking a year after med school, delaying residency, likely reduces residency matching chances.
2) trying to serve after residency may have financial considerations
3) do it before and @Goro, it will be a huge plus in medical school chances
 
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gonnif

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should I take 3 years off and study for the mcat after serving? won't the material be less fresh in my head

thats true but trying otherwise may not work.

you can do anything you want,
you cant do everything you want
 
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@Hazel-rah

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You should not try to join the Peace Corps as a physician. I don't think they would take you. I would recommend MSF (Doctors Without Borders) although there are a million other ways to work in the developing world before, during, and after medical training.

PC is special because you are serving your country, the U.S., as well as your host country. It's rather selective, make sure you meet the minimum requirements!

If you've always wanted to do PC, DO IT!! You will probably never never regret it.

I would recommend reading a couple Peace Corps volunteer blogs in their entirety to decide if you want to do it. Also find your nearest PC recruiter and go to RPCV panels.

Yes I would recommend you take MCAT just before leaving and if it expires, it will be much easier to retake it when you come back, because those neuronal pathways will already be laid. In fact you could probably do like 10 practice questions a day during your whole service to stay fresh on MCAT. Also , some people don't make it through the whole two years so if you have to come back, your MCAT may not be expired...

Feel free to PM me with any questions if you decide to go for it. I'm an RPCV.
 
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Turkishking

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I'm planning on doing it as well. You can take your MCAT before hand, or when you come back, then apply. Depends on how you handle things.
 

RangerBob

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Do it before and it will make you a far better person, and candidate.

I agree with this. The one thing I wish I did differently in life is not doing a 1-3 years of some kind of service (PeaceCorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, US Military, etc.)

That's the kind of opportunity you really can only do when you're younger, single, without a family, increased financial obligations, etc. I'm in my final year of residency, married, with a baby on the way. I need to pay off a huge student loan burden (plus my wife's). That really knocks out any volunteer opportunity. Being married and with a baby on the way kind of eliminates any active military service because my wife wants to settle down in one spot--the military moves you around and tells you where to live.

The odds of you doing any kind of deep/extended service commitment like these drastically decreases once you start medical school. Take it now if it's something you want to do at some point in life--it will make you a better person and more interesting candidate. You will also be more mature/confident. I am glad I started medical school a little late (did a post-bac for a year, then worked full-time for 2 prior to starting), as it helped me mature a lot.

My only regret in life. Hopefully when the kids are all grown up my wife and I can find some service commitment to do together in old age.
 
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deleted480308

Let's be honest here, you won't join the peace corps after med school
 
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LizzyM

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I do know a physician who joined the Peace Corps but it was a mid-life activity after the kids were in college. Peace Corps will take docs for shorter tours than the typical 27 months required of younger folks.
 
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Waillin

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It will be extremely difficult/impossible to fly back for interviews if you apply while volunteering. If you wait and apply after PC then your MCAT will be expired (if you take it before you leave). Also be aware that you will likely not have consistent internet to apply or take online practice tests if you intend to take the MCAT while overseas. I was in your position and ultimately decided to apply to medical school and then do the PC later in life since I prioritized being a physician over joining PC.

On a side note, PC will definitely accept physicians for their normal 27 month volunteer gigs where you will likely work in public health, or you can do a shorter more medically specific volunteer service working with medical education (GHSP).

Good luck with whatever you decide!
 

TMC07

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Peace Corps has a special program for doctors and nurses called the Global Health Service Partnership Program. However, it is VERY different from traditional Peace Corps in that those who participate focus on teaching in professional schools and teaching hospitals. They also do not typically live with families, truly learn the culture, or learn any of language. This is because it is a one year program geared toward older people.

If you want "the Peace Corps experience", you won't get it from that program since it is designed for Returned Volunteers who have become health care professionals and those who are older and not able to endure the challenges of traditional Peace Corps. You cannot join this program immediately after medical school or residency because you must have at least five years of experience to be eligible. So, this doesn't fit with your plan.

Traditional Peace Corps has been moving away from accepting highly skilled applicants since they find it difficult to adjust to being in a childlike state again and are less likely to finish their service than young, fresh college grads. I doubt they would accept you for a public health program as a physician. The work those PCVs do is well bellow the skill level of a health care professional and it is mostly based on education. Everything they do, they're taught how to do during their three months of training. As a doctor, you'd just be a headache for Peace Corps because you'd cross lines. This wouldn't be a good fit.

If you truly want to join Peace Corps, do it before medical school. And don't plan on serving anything less than the two years. You make a commitment to your community for two years, so they plan to have you for two years.
 
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Waillin

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Data from the Peace Corps website that appears to support favoring younger volunteers

Volunteers

  • Current number of Volunteers and trainees: 7,213
  • Gender: 62% female, 38% male
  • Marital status: 95% single, 5% married
  • Minorities: 29% of Volunteers (excludes non-responders)
  • Average age: 28
  • Volunteers over age 50: 7%
 

holdthemayo

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Data from the Peace Corps website that appears to support favoring younger volunteers

Volunteers

  • Current number of Volunteers and trainees: 7,213
  • Gender: 62% female, 38% male
  • Marital status: 95% single, 5% married
  • Minorities: 29% of Volunteers (excludes non-responders)
  • Average age: 28
  • Volunteers over age 50: 7%

The Peace Corps takes older volunteers. Older people however are usually less willing/able to uproot their lives/families/careers and move across the world for two years than young, single, recent graduates.
 

DrfluffyMD

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You should do PC. It will change your life forever. You will lose your current romantic relationship though.
 

sazerac

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If you do Peace Corps it will add +1000 points to your medical school app, if you choose to apply to Tulane. They really love them federal volunteer programs.
 

DameJulie

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How's Ameri-Corp look like on application? How about comparing it to PeaceCorp?
 

TMC07

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How's Ameri-Corp look like on application? How about comparing it to PeaceCorp?

In terms of your application, they are both great things to have. However, Peace Corps is in now way comparable to AmeriCorps. In AmeriCorps, you don't learn a new culture or a new language. You also don't give up everything you've known in order to serve those less fortunate in an environment that would make 99% of America cringe. They share the feature of service to others, but they are night and day different. The commitment is also significantly longer for Peace Corps than for AmeriCorps.
 

sazerac

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How's Ameri-Corp look like on application? How about comparing it to PeaceCorp?
Again, if it is a federal service program it will ridiculously boost your application at Tulane. I don't know why they love those programs so much, they just do.
 

veh213

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So I've wanted to join the Peace Corps for some time. I'm on the fence about whether to join before applying to med school as most people say you need at least 3 gap years total to apply, since applying while serving is very difficult. 3 years seems like a long time to me- although some of you might have a different perspective to offer on that. The alternative I am considering is serving for a year after Med school/res (if I get in somewhere) and being able to do more rewarding work as a physician. Thing is, I've heard lots of people say to do what you really want to do before applying to Med school. What are your thoughts? also sorry for such a long post!


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I know this is a little late, but do Peace Corps first. So what if your MCAT expires. If that's still what you want to do when you return, then you'll make it happen. It's also very possible that your entire life will change and you'll decide on a different career. That's exactly what happened to me. I planned on getting a PhD before Peace Corps, but here I am now applying to optometry school after serving in Peace Corps for 3 years and then going back to undergrad. I had to start at the bottom with 18 year old students in undergrad (I'm 30 now), and work through my pre-reqs. I'm 100% certain this is what I want to do with my life so the age difference and career gap (as compared to my friends) doesn't bother me.
 
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