sharona1121

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Hi folks,

I am looking into getting some extra experience and was hoping to get some advice / thoughts from ppl...

I am interested in getting some clinical volunteer experience or medical research experience. Any ideas on how to go about getting this?

I have looked at a bunch of hospital websites but it seems like most of the hospital volunteer positions are not "clinical" per se... they are talking to families in waiting rooms, relaying information from one desk to another, wheeling patients around etc. Am I incorrect in assuming the above is not considered "clinical experience?"

As a bit of background, as an undergraduate, I did a lot of volunteer work with health focused after school programs that took place in hospitals. They involved collaboration with doctors, working with patients of those doctors, working with their families etc... basically, I have a fair amount of volunteer experience related to health under my belt and am looking for more "medical/clinical" volunteer experiences (for lack of better words). I saw that a fair number of hospitals have hard core programs in the ER department but it seems like these are geared towards undergraduate pre-med students.


Anyone have any thoughts on what I should do, what I should be looking for and how to go about finding this? Do you think, given my health related volunteer experience I should try to get exposure to research? I have the normal restraints of a workign professional... (work 7am to 6pm).

I also was wondering what you guys thought of getting EMT training and certification. I think this could be interesting and perhaps after certification
I would have more medical volunteer opportunities? Do you guys think an EMT cert would help, especially during post bac years, in looking for a good volunteer job?

Thanks so much!!
 

DrMidlife

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I have looked at a bunch of hospital websites but it seems like most of the hospital volunteer positions are not "clinical" per se... they are talking to families in waiting rooms, relaying information from one desk to another, wheeling patients around etc. Am I incorrect in assuming the above is not considered "clinical experience?"

Yep, incorrect assumption. Clinical experience means you can smell patients, and these volunteer gigs are excellent. You don't get to do interesting work until you have medical training.

As a bit of background, as an undergraduate, I did a lot of volunteer work with health focused after school programs that took place in hospitals. They involved collaboration with doctors, working with patients of those doctors, working with their families etc... basically, I have a fair amount of volunteer experience related to health under my belt and am looking for more "medical/clinical" volunteer experiences (for lack of better words). I saw that a fair number of hospitals have hard core programs in the ER department but it seems like these are geared towards undergraduate pre-med students.

You're not an undergrad premed? Are you sure? If you want to go to med school and you haven't started med school yet, you're an undergrad premed. Also don't kid yourself that these "hard core" programs are any more hands-on than the volunteering you've already done. ER volunteering is more intense and fun, but you're still pushing stretchers, not actually performing patient care. They don't care if you have CPR training: you don't do CPR as a volunteer, period, for example. You might get to hold an arm while a resident casts it, if the nurse manager isn't watching.

I also was wondering what you guys thought of getting EMT training and certification. I think this could be interesting and perhaps after certification I would have more medical volunteer opportunities? Do you guys think an EMT cert would help, especially during post bac years, in looking for a good volunteer job?

If you don't specifically see volunteer gigs where they're asking for an EMT cert, then no, it's not a leg up on more volunteering. In my view, working (not volunteering) as an EMT is a good, garden variety extra curricular, that is one step above ER volunteering. I don't see a point in taking on EMT training if you (a) don't need a paying job, and (b) are getting other clinical exposure. If you want to work as an EMT as a part time job when you go back to school, and the training is manageable, that's not a bad idea at all. It's not a high paying job. Also true of getting a CNA or MA cert.

Best of luck to you.
 
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I am a full-time EMT and I volunteer saturday mornings in the ED. I have gotten to know a lot of the nurses and attendings/residents. When I volunteer they use me as they would their patient care techs. I dont mind the work - I mean its not paid, but it beats running specimens to the lab and folding towels ya know.

Point is, its STRESSFUL. It can be easy at times, (EMS=Earn Money Sleeping) but rewarding at the end of the day. If you can get on a volunteer First Aid squad they usually pay for the hours you need to do to get certified (110 in NJ) and pay for your sitting of the State test. National Registry, you are on your own. If you have the time and drive to do it, the GO FOR IT. If not keep on volunteering. Believe it or not most nurses and docs are willing to teach they like inquisitive volunteers. Have fun!
 
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NewmansOwn

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I feel compelled to offer a counter-opinion to that of DrMidlife in this particular instance. To the OP: I actually agree with you that shuttling papers around/carrying bags of urine to the lab should not really be considered "clinical experience." I have heard the "if you can smell patients" point before, and in many cases, it holds true. However, I disagree with the notion that you can't do anything "cool" until you've had medical training. True, volunteer opportunities are limited, but I think you may be looking in the wrong areas.

Large hospitals aren't hurting for volunteers. They have the money to pay a large full-time staff to do many of the things you'd like to be (and be capable of) doing. My advice is to seek out free clinics, many of which are associated with medical schools (student-run type places). Consider JeffHOPE in Philadelphia, Jefferson Medical College's network of free clinics. Staffed entirely by medical students with the supervision of a physician (usually FM or IM) who volunteers a night of their time, they will allow a select few pre-medical students to come and act basically as a med student in the clinic. Not making any decisions alone, of course, but taking histories, participating in physical exams, bandaging, assisting with injections, etc. This is cool stuff if you haven't done it before, and it's the kind of stuff no large hospital would even dream of letting you do. But these free clinics need the help and if you can get into one, they'll let you do things most pre-medical students only dream of.

I'm an EMT and it's ok, but I agree that unless you're really going to use it in a unique or truly devoted way, it's probably not worth the time. It's a fair number of hours per week and you have to attend several all-day weekend sessions, as well as pull 2 12-hour shifts in the ER to hone your clinical skills.

And for the record, I also don't see "pre-med" as being so black and white, either. There's a difference between having completed undergrad and having some life experience under your belt and just starting to think about maybe being a doctor when you're 18 years old. The former should rightly be interested in richer volunteer experiences, and hopefully you will find one. All the best.
 

sharona1121

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Thanks for your opinions guys.

So what do you think I should do in my situation?

During my four years at college I basically led volunteers at an after school program (the attendees had chronic illnesses and this after school program was designed with doctors. we didn't do anything "medical" per se but a lot of the cuirriculum was about how to deal with their illnesses and homework help. I also had a lot of physician interaction while designing this program). I oversaw several other programs for youth (each served youth with a different illness) simiilar to the one I led.

I pretty much devoted all my non class time to this organization. Looking back on this experience I guess it will definitely fulfill the volunteer component that med schools look for... it's a bit tricky because these were defnitely health related and all our attendees were regular outpatients. i just don't know if this counts as "clinical" experience. i'm guessing not.

but because of the nature of waht i did... i don't know if there's much benefit to doing a "clinical" experience like interacting with patients / or their families in waiting rooms / delivering flowers to patients etc. i want to do something that gives me a more hard core "clinical" expereince... the suggestions of the free clinic are great. i just have to figure out if those exist around me (i'm in manhattan).

if i can't find something more "clinical" should i try to find a research posn? i doubt i can find one given the fact that i work though.

what kind of experience / research / ecs do you think i should invest my time for the next year? should i try to shadow a physician? what's the best way to go about doing this? is the better approach finding a physician who has a small practice or someone who is pretty well known / busy but will mentor (do those kind of physicians exist?)

Thanks guys!!
 

NewmansOwn

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Thanks for your opinions guys.

So what do you think I should do in my situation?

During my four years at college I basically led volunteers at an after school program (the attendees had chronic illnesses and this after school program was designed with doctors. we didn't do anything "medical" per se but a lot of the cuirriculum was about how to deal with their illnesses and homework help. I also had a lot of physician interaction while designing this program). I oversaw several other programs for youth (each served youth with a different illness) simiilar to the one I led.

I pretty much devoted all my non class time to this organization. Looking back on this experience I guess it will definitely fulfill the volunteer component that med schools look for... it's a bit tricky because these were defnitely health related and all our attendees were regular outpatients. i just don't know if this counts as "clinical" experience. i'm guessing not.

but because of the nature of waht i did... i don't know if there's much benefit to doing a "clinical" experience like interacting with patients / or their families in waiting rooms / delivering flowers to patients etc. i want to do something that gives me a more hard core "clinical" expereince... the suggestions of the free clinic are great. i just have to figure out if those exist around me (i'm in manhattan).

if i can't find something more "clinical" should i try to find a research posn? i doubt i can find one given the fact that i work though.

what kind of experience / research / ecs do you think i should invest my time for the next year? should i try to shadow a physician? what's the best way to go about doing this? is the better approach finding a physician who has a small practice or someone who is pretty well known / busy but will mentor (do those kind of physicians exist?)

Thanks guys!!

Everything is more competitive in Manhattan. A research position will be difficult to find and, at this juncture, may not be the best use of your time. Free clinics are abundant in NYC; you just have to ask around. If I were you, I'd give the Dept. of Family Medicine at NYU or Columbia a call and ask if they have any suggestions of free clinics in the city where you can get some decent hands-on experience and maybe even make a difference. Chances are, they'll be happy to help.

Shadowing is tricky. On the one hand, you want to shadow whoever lets you have the most interesting and diverse experience. However, letters of recommendation are key so... if you have the opportunity to shadow a prominent academic physician, that may be advantageous to your application. Honestly, shadowing is just sort of an obligatory thing, I think, so get it done and do your best to get something (a great experience OR a letter of recommendation) out of it.
 
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