Sep 24, 2009
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  1. Pre-Medical
I need help deciding whether I should continue non-clinical volunteering this upcoming semester. Right now I have five months (4 hours per week) volunteering as a tutor for immigrants (last spring) and 3 months (4 hours per week) volunteering as a wetland monitor for the city I live in (summer). I am planning on continuing volunteering as a wetland monitor for the next two summers.

My plan is to have 14 months of non-clinical volunteering (5 months as a tutor and 9 months as a wetland monitor), 18 months of clinical volunteering, and 18 months of research.

My adviser told me that volunteering for more than a semester in a non-clinical setting is a waste of time, but I think that medical schools would like to see me stay at the tutoring place for more than one semester. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do both clinical and non-clinical.

If I volunteer as a tutor this semester, that would increase my non-clinical to 18 months, but decrease my clinical to 14 months. I would like to continue as a tutor because I really enjoy it, but my adviser thinks it's a really bad idea. What would you do in this scenerio?


Advisors can be out of touch, sometimes. Take it from those of us who are actually in the process.

Your volunteering is going to be great. It looks long term and impactful, however clinical volunteering is more weighty than non clinical so I would recommend spending more time in a clinical setting which is what your current schedule supports. Stick to that. Research looks good too, but its not as important as that clinical volunteering. You are fine. Good luck!

Donald Juan

7+ Year Member
May 22, 2011
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  1. Resident [Any Field]
I don't think +/- 4 months clinical vs. nonclinical will make any sort of difference. Every premed should want some clinical experiences on their app; I don't think 14 months compared to 18 months is a big difference. Do what you enjoy in your extra time.
Jul 6, 2006
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The type of volunteering you do doesn't matter.

The type of clinical experience you do doesn't matter. It's all about demonstrating that you understand what a physician does. If you can do that through volunteering, great. If you do it through shadowing, great. If you do it through work, great.

You do not have to volunteer to get clinical experience, as that is not the point of volunteering. Many people like to kill two birds with one stone, but I think non-clinical volunteering is more worthwhile as an undergrad--once you get to med school, you can generally actually do things, so clinical volunteering tends to be more fulfilling.

So I agree with the poster above that 14 vs 18 months of clinical volunteering isn't going to make a bit of difference on your application. Do whichever you enjoy more.
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