Dismiss Notice

Interview Feedback: Visit Interview Feedback to view and submit interview information.

Interviewing Masterclass: Free masterclass on interviewing from SDN and Medical College of Georgia

Are some clinical volunteering experiences better than others?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by adran49, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    I am curious if certain volunteering opportunities are more "impressive" to adcoms than others. For example, I just recently started volunteering and my job is to make sure that the medical staff follows certain protocols as they are moving patients from the ICU to the OR, before, during and after surgeries in the OR, and transporting back to ICU from the OR. I need to make sure that they're communicating correctly and the right information is being conveyed between team members. This puts me in the OR for entire procedures (if I chose to watch the whole surgery) and the ICU. I am really excited about this experience and think that it's a great experience for a pre-med to have. I don't want to get nit-picky but, would this experience be more impressive to an adcom than someone who is answering phones or directing patients to areas of the hospital, not that those aren't important jobs. I pretty much lucked into my position now.
     
    #1 adran49, Aug 20, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  2. MSclerosis

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    55
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    ... wow, I am surprised that a hospital would allow this
     
    Strudel19 likes this.
  3. md-2020

    md-2020 The Immaculate Catch
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2015
    Messages:
    2,300
    Likes Received:
    3,003
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I did this as well. It required a lot of paperwork/training but it happens more often than you probably think.

    OP, it's fine/cool but I think you'll need some experiences with conscious patients too.
     
  4. sovereign0

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    649
    Status:
    Medical Student
    The "best" clinical experiences, or experiences in general, are the ones which are most meaningful to you. Your experiences can only take you as far as you can throw them - meaning that what really matters is what you learn and how well you can articulate that.

    If you asked me, the best experiences would involve meaningful interaction with the patients themselves, whereas yours seems closer to shadowing than clinical experience.
     
    futuremdforme and adran49 like this.
  5. idontknowwhatnametopick

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    1,306
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I would consider this to be more shadowing/research than volunteering, but it sounds awesome!
     
  6. Goro

    Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    46,885
    Likes Received:
    66,244
    Status:
    Non-Student
    I have a high regard for people who volunteer or work with hospice patients, or those in nursing homes. Ditto for any counselors at camps for sick kids.

    It takes a lot of gumption to deal with our mortality up front. Most people are very uncomfortable with it.
     
    treecat, J Senpai, TUVIX and 3 others like this.
  7. sovereign0

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    649
    Status:
    Medical Student
    You'd be surprised, things vary a lot betweeen hospitals. For one shadowing experience, I had to fill out paperwork several months in advance and I was only allowed to shadow for 3 out of every 5 days. I was just shadowing pulm/critical care.

    At another hospital, I literally just showed up the day of (the physician was aware, of course), they gave me a nametag, and I went straight into the procedure lab. That was to shadow an interventional radiologist.
     
  8. Spector1

    Spector1 Orbis non Sufficit
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1,808
    Likes Received:
    1,907
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    mine lets me do CPR. (which I have done four times already)
     
  9. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
    Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    Messages:
    21,656
    Likes Received:
    27,332
    Status:
    Academic Administration
    I don't see any interaction with patients themselves; you don't speak to them directly or hear their requests. I'd suggest that some experience with patients who are awake and alert might be helpful as well as this which does seem to be more of a shadowing experience (in that you get to observe surgeries).
     
    Goro and adran49 like this.
  10. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    I was surprised at first too since I pretty much lucked into the spot but I'm not complaining, it's frickin awesome!

    I'll keep that in mind and try to get some volunteering work on the other floors of the hospital.

    I totally understand that it's what you get from the experience and interacting with patients may give someone a more overt sense of meaningful interactions. However, I believe that this experience is giving me meaningful experiences in dealing with the "darker" side of medicine. Dealing with those who are so critically ill that they are in need of the most intense medical treatments shows a side of medicine that can truly disturb many people.
     
  11. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    I do respect those who can work with those who are so critically ill, it certainly takes a lot. Would you say that the things I am seeing are among that caliber since those I observe are so ill? Or is it not the same because I am not getting much face to face time with them?

    I know I will not have many personal interactions with the patients themselves but my overall job is to ensure patient safety, which is, in a way, interacting with the patient (well at least their well-being) is that considered when looking at situation like this? Since I will be seeing a wide array of patients and surgeries, and I truly am just a volunteer, I will be putting this experience down as volunteering. Will that hurt me compared to those who volunteered and got more personal interactions?
     
  12. idontknowwhatnametopick

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    1,306
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I don't think surgery disturbs many people who plan on going into medicine... There's nothing wrong with liking what you call "the darker side of medicine" but the way you're talking makes it sound like you're just super into blood and guts, and I doubt that will impress any adcom members.
    In a position like that (which is similar to what I do in my job) I would focus a lot more on the fact that you are hopefully helping improve patient care by making sure nothing is overlooked. Maybe your input will even help improve the way things are done?
     
  13. sovereign0

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2014
    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    649
    Status:
    Medical Student
    The key difference we are trying to establish is the difference between DOING and OBSERVING. Observing is passive, doing is active. As a medical student and physician, you will be playing a very active role in taking care of patients. You want to show that you have experience being actively involved in healthcare, so that you can honestly say that you know what you are getting into.

    Your secondaries are going to make you write pages and pages about your experiences and how they changed you, and how they will make you a better medical student and future physician. Writing essays about your experiences passively observing the practice of healthcare won't be as convincing as those based on your active involvement in people's lives.

    Your experience seems totally awesome, I don't think that anyone is arguing otherwise. However, it is what it is, and what it is does not include meaningful patient interaction - something very important when it comes to applying to medical school. Nobody is saying that you need to quit and find a new position, but we are merely suggesting that you get some additional experiences where you get to work directly with patients.
     
  14. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    Hahaha I just read what I wrote again and it does seem like I'm into blood and guts but to be honest when I first started getting interested in medicine I had to watch surgeries on youtube because it used to make me really queasy :p. I definitely am focusing on the fact that I have the opportunity to make sure that patients are looked after correctly and I can have a role in ensuring their safety. That to me is the biggest part of this job.

    I totally understand what you mean between observing and doing, I didn't think about it that way. I truly believe that I could write convincing essays from this experience and my many others but I will definitely try to get a little more hands-on experience while I'm there. I appreciate your input, I'm going to see what I can do in that regard. Thank you
     
  15. idontknowwhatnametopick

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Messages:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    1,306
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Ok good :)
    Just make sure someone proofreads all your essays so your message comes across more patient-focused ;)
     
  16. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    Oh trust me I will haha. I've always been the type that, when writing essays, I blurt out everything onto the paper and then go back and edit it about a million times so that it is more coherent. I'm not a horrible writer but I have an unorthodox style lol. It doesn't translate that well to forum posting because I don't feel like really editing the blurt :laugh:
     
  17. heebeejeebies

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    506
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I preferred working with dementia and Alzheimer's patients. It was sometimes difficult to engage them and especially difficult during sundowning, but their stories and attitudes were amazing.

    Wouldn't trade it even if they let me scrub in to the OR.
     
    starlite911 and DokterMom like this.
  18. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    It's awesome that you loved your volunteer experience so much. I've worked in a cognitive neuroscience lab for 3 years and have had the opportunity to work with such populations and I found it be extremely satisfying and fun. Keep up the hard work!

    This opportunity was just kind of handed to me after I asked if the hospital needed an volunteers. They were like, "oh you're pre-med, we have this, here ya go." As grateful as I am for the oppounity (I absolutely LOVE it), it seems as if I need to pick up something else that will give me a little more hands on experience with patients.
     
  19. heebeejeebies

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2015
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    506
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Definitely not downplaying your experience! It's wicked cool to work in that role and setting and team.

    But personally I focused on being able to interact with patients for my volunteering. I wanted to talk to them, and I think that's where the value in clinical volunteering lies.
     
  20. efle

    efle not an elf
    Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2014
    Messages:
    11,063
    Likes Received:
    13,884
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Some is definitely better than others. The same overall volunteering program at the local children's hospital has jobs ranging from restocking/never seeing patients and being a greeter/info person and never seeing patients, to tutoring or gameroom where all you do is work with one or a few patients at a time. Research your options people!

    To OP: That sounds like an awesome opportunity but not for patient interaction.
     
    jb94mg likes this.
  21. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    Efle thank you for clearing up some of the confusion. Do you think that if I try to work some more patient interaction into it (talking to patients, making sure their needs are met, asking if they need anything) I can put a spin on the experience to include meaningful patient interaction? I definitely think that I can work closer to the patients and not just be an observer.
     
  22. efle

    efle not an elf
    Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2014
    Messages:
    11,063
    Likes Received:
    13,884
    Status:
    Medical Student
    You're better off asking @Goro these questions! I suspect you'd have a hard time ever spinning it to compete with something like nursing home/hospice volunteering where you are primarily there to interact with the patients, the real standout feature for you is that there's so much shadowing rolled into it
     
  23. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    You're definitely right that I won't be able to compete with hospice work and stuff like that but I know that I can and will make a better effort to get to know the patients and make a personal connection with them. Part of the protocol that I am making sure is followed is that everyone must identify themselves to the patient and say their names, ranks, and what they will be doing. Since I know their operation time, I can certainly go up beforehand and talk with them about why I am there and that I will be doing all I can to make sure safety protocols are followed. That is something that I wanted to make a point to do anyways. @efle

    On a side note, I think what also adds to the amount of shadowing I will be doing is that my hospital is a level 1 trauma center with a trauma ICU but it also has a top ranked childrens hospital with a Childrens ICU as well as 6 other ICU's. I will definitely be getting a wide array of exposure.
     
  24. DokterMom

    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    4,892
    Likes Received:
    10,641
    Status:
    Non-Student
    I think the most "impressive" experiences (to use your term) will be the ones that are least glamorous and, for most people, most uncomfortable. Things like working with Alzheimer's patients, hospice, developmentally disabled or disfigured, homeless, impoverished, immigrant -- working directly with the kinds of patients most people prefer not to interact with.
     
    treecat, jb94mg, Goro and 1 other person like this.
  25. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    DokterMom, after starting this thread and reading all of the great advice that has been offered to me, I totally agree with that sentiment. In the same regard, I was under the impression that many people wanted to stay away from ICU patients considering their state of health, making them a group in which people preferred to stay away from in volunteering situations, much like those groups that you just listed. I thank you for your input and I have learned much from this discussion.
     
  26. Goro

    Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    46,885
    Likes Received:
    66,244
    Status:
    Non-Student
    It's not the same.

     
    mcatjelly and Spector1 like this.
  27. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thank you for the clarification Goro, I will be sure to bolster up on the patient contact in other volunteering endeavors.
     
  28. oopsaloo

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2015
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    63
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Well, now that you've gotten tons of great advice, enjoy this amazing experience! It does sound pretty hard to come by, and you'll probably be able to find a way to use what you learned through this during your medical career.
     
  29. DokterMom

    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    4,892
    Likes Received:
    10,641
    Status:
    Non-Student
    It's definitely NOT the same. An ICU patient won't say something dreadfully inappropriate to you or ask for much in the way of personal connection. An Alzheimer's patient may think you're her daughter or husband and want considerably more physical touch than you're comfortable with. A hospice patient may rage at you or cry, or want to discuss spiritual beliefs that go very much against your own religious views. A developmentally disabled person may consider you their very best friend. (And you may be.) The homeless smell. And homeless shelters tend not to be in nice neighborhoods.

    So not the same. Definitely worth the extra credit points.

    NOT to diminish your present volunteering gig, which actually sounds pretty cool.
     
    Goro likes this.
  30. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thank you so much oopsaloo! I've only been doing it for about 2 weeks now and I absolutely love it. I feel so integrated into the medical team and am getting an awesome up close and personal experience with the entire process while really getting to see what a surgeons job is like. I appreciate the support!

    DokterMom, you definitely make some great points that did not occur to me. I realize now that I will not get those personal experiences with ICU patients but I will still try to talk with them and try to establish connections. I appreciate the clarification and in no way did I think you were diminishing my current opportunity. Thank you :D!
     
  31. nRomaleos

    nRomaleos Sure!

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2015
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    198
    Status:
    Medical Student (Accepted)
    Although I wasn't uncomfortable, this is so true.
    She was the sweetest lady with the strongest southern draw I have ever encountered. I shared the name with one of her kids.

    Regardless OP, if you have time I would suggest finding both a technical & interpersonal clinical experience.
    Each has shown me different sides, both negatively & positively.
     
  32. TUVIX

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    635
    Likes Received:
    403
    Status:
    Medical Student (Accepted)
    I agree. I volunteered in a hospice. Here is an example of a patient interaction: Sitting and spoon feeding a man chocolate ice cream who is so weak that you can barely hear him speak. Wiping drool and ice cream off of his chin. Figuring out a way to make him smile. Returning the next week to volunteer and he isn't there anymore. Extremely different than working in an ICU where patients also die and are very sick but it just is simply not the same experience.
     
    DokterMom, tessellations and Goro like this.
  33. tessellations

    tessellations mornings are for coffee and contemplation
    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2015
    Messages:
    516
    Likes Received:
    679
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    This summer I worked at a nursing home as a CNA and man was it an eye opening experience. It was HARD, but incredibly rewarding. I worked in all the wings, so I dealt with long term care, rehab, and dementia residents. I was pretty awkward when I first started, but as time went on I just naturally became better equipped to deal with my interactions with the residents. I'm so much more comfortable with touching people and providing comfort, and even had two residents that I had worked with die (though never on my shift). On top of that I was able to build relationships with the residents, and when I recently told one of my residents that I was going back to school soon she said some of the kindest things and was so grateful that I came close to getting a little over emotional. I haven't volunteered in a hospital setting but I just don't see people having that amount of patient interaction. I fed, cleaned, cared, and comforted. And on top of all of that I sometimes got to experience the joy of having residents who just refuse to like you no matter how hard you try. You can't make everyone happy in life after all! Nursing homes humble you to your core, man.
     
    DokterMom likes this.
  34. adran49

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    5
    These experiences seem to be such eye opening and wonderful experiences and I am happy that you have all enjoyed them so much. I think next summer when I have some more time I will try to volunteer in one of these settings as they seem to be extremely humbling and show a different side of healthcare. Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences!
     
    tessellations likes this.

Share This Page