Anyone volunteer at a Free Clinic?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by woohoo, May 28, 2002.

  1. woohoo

    woohoo Senior Member
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    I've heard from many people that volunteering at a free clinic is a great idea - hands on experience, and it's different than going the traditional hospital volunteer route. So I found a clinic close to home and worked there for a day but there's two problems: one, the clinic is only open for about 4 hrs once a week --would this be enough time if it were the ONLY health experience I have (I plan on doing it as long as possible) or should I also be a hospital volunteer in addition to this?
    Second, since doctors & staff are all volunteers, there's different people there every week, making it hard to get to know them and therefore get a LOR - although that isn't my only goal.
     
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  3. BlueJayBill

    BlueJayBill Member
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    i worked at one for 3 years. fortunately, the doc was the same throughout. Unlike working in a clinic, I had a much more hands on experience. I was able to take histories, give shots, and do a lot of the "dirty work." I personally found it much more rewarding than my other hospital expierences in which i could only watch and talk.

    -Bill
     
  4. Soda pop

    Soda pop Member
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    I work at a free clinic and it's the best clinical experience you can get.
    About your problems, well...
    1. I think 4 hours is enough, as long as you get something out of it. I don't think it's the number of hours that matter but your experience at the clinic. Especially, since you are planning on volunteering there for some time, I don't think you will NEED to volunteer anywhere else, unless you WANT to. Afterall, it's the commitment and dedication that med schools want to see.
    2. Don't you have a volunteer coordinator? And even if the doctors change every week, I am pretty sure they still have a schedule, like where they come in every second week of the month or something of that nature.

    My clinic has volunteer doctors come in once a month, but we also have couple full time doctors. So, I was able to get a LOR from one of them.

    Hope that helps.
     
  5. ssd

    ssd Senior Member
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    i helped found a nutrition clinic at one of the free clinics in los angeles. i only work 4 hours/week, but that was by far the biggest asset to my application this year. every interviewer made some comment or asked some question about my experiences at the clinic.

    i also agree that a free clinic is a great place to get valuable experience. at most clinics there are only a few staffed physicians, and several others who are also there as volunteers. with this kind of environment, you are usually free to do much more than would normally be allowed in a hospital volunteer setting. i've loved every minute that i've spent at the clinic, and i feel that i have gained valuable experiences that otherwise would not have been possible.
     
  6. Mansoor

    Mansoor Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by ssd:
    <strong>i helped found a nutrition clinic at one of the free clinics in los angeles. i only work 4 hours/week, but that was by far the biggest asset to my application this year. every interviewer made some comment or asked some question about my experiences at the clinic.

    i also agree that a free clinic is a great place to get valuable experience. at most clinics there are only a few staffed physicians, and several others who are also there as volunteers. with this kind of environment, you are usually free to do much more than would normally be allowed in a hospital volunteer setting. i've loved every minute that i've spent at the clinic, and i feel that i have gained valuable experiences that otherwise would not have been possible.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Do you have to have qualifications and experience to work at a free clinic? I would imagine you would need to have some training to be able to do things like sticking needles and taking histories. Did you guys have to go through any training, or have any specific qualifications?
     
  7. leafs

    leafs Member
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    I volunteered at a sliding scale clinic in Baltimore for a year. What that means is the cost of the visit and treatment was determined by income of the patient....often in essence it was like a free clinic.
    From conversations with my friends who decided to volunteer in the local hospital, I found that i was given much more responsibility and opportunity than them as the clinic was understaffed. I also found it very easy to get along with my fellow co-workers who were thrilled to have volunteers (clinic was not in best area of Baltimore).
    I loved my experience and found it extremely rewarding
     
  8. nebula7

    nebula7 Senior Member
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    I volunteered/worked at a free clinic for 1 year. There was only 1 dr at this clinic, and she was on a paid basis. I did get to know her, so she wrote me a LOR, as did the director of the clinic. I'm sure if you volunteer a while you will get to know some of the Drs, even though they may rotate. If you have contact with the director too, you may be able to get another LOR there.

    I also think 4hrs/week will be enough...the most important thing is if you enjoy it and learn from it. Since it is a free clinic, your donating your time here would possibly be more beneficial to all involved than would volunteering at a hospital or other for-profit place. I volunteered at both types of places, and I must say the free clinic experience was much more rewarding.
     
  9. Winston Smith

    Winston Smith i didn't do it
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    Out of curiosity how did you guys find out about the free clinics in your area?
     
  10. Michelys

    Michelys Senior Member
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    That's really cool that you all are looking at "free" clinics--I decided to volunteer at the local Health Care Center for the Homeless. I found it by calling my local hospital and asking them where the homeless can go for health care. Although I only participated in it for about two months, the experience was totally different than the usual hospital stuff in that I was allowed to do more "off the record" stuff, like checking in patients and doing their file work before they saw the doctor. It was great...and I hope you all enjoy yourselves doing it as well!
     

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