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Clinical Volunteering Sufficient Clinical Experience?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by JAH360, 05.12.14.

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  1. JAH360

    JAH360

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    I've read quite a few threads addressing this, but the answers always seem to be different, so I figured I'd post my situation to get more specific suggestions.

    I'd always planned to do my university's two-semester EMT program my senior year, then work full time for a year after I graduate as an EMT to get clinical experience. However, the EMT course for the Fall doesn't fit my schedule, so I have looked at applying to a local community college and doing their EMT or Phlebotomy program. The issue is that they are requiring high school transcripts, and I graduated high school in 2009 from a small private school that was purchased since I graduated, and thus no longer has my transcripts. The Community College told me I could take the GED test for acceptance, which seems insane to me that I must do that to prove my competence when I scored a 2250 on the SAT and just finished my Junior year in college with a cumulative GPA of 3.994 as a double major in neurobiology and biochemistry. Nonetheless, going through the process of getting a redundant GED is not attractive, so I was wondering if my clinical volunteering counts as clinical experience? I volunteer three hours a week at the NeuroICU of my local hospital. I've been doing it for about a year now, and only have about 50 hours, because they over-hire volunteers, so I always get there with nothing to do and they just send me home. I've also shadowed a few organ procurement surgeries, but probably not enough times to really count for anything. I'm going to try to find ways to volunteer more and thus increase my hours tremendously over the next year and a half. I've looked at medical scribe jobs, but they all require 1 year commitments, which I can't make right now, as I will be moving back home when I graduate in under a year. What are your suggestions?

    Thanks for your input

    Edit: I WILL go through the process of getting a GED if need be. I'll do anything at this point, but I am merely looking for alternative suggestions that would make my life easier.

    Edit again: Also, there are companies that give Phlebotomy/EMT training that aren't associated with a college, but they don't include the required clinical hours for certification. I've been told that once I've taken the classes and passed the certification tests, it's easy to just call up a hospital and ask to Phlebotomy/EMT shadow for the required clinical hours; does anyone know anything about this?
     
    Last edited: 05.12.14
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  3. Planes2Doc

    Planes2Doc 2+ Year Member

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    YES!

    Clinical volunteering is more than enough experience. There's no point in doing entry-level paid clinical work since it's so overdone that it won't set you apart, and it takes up so much time that it might end up hurting your grades, MCAT, and free time. Just stick to volunteering only. ADCOMs are totally fine with that since they only want you to see the clinical environment, and not necessarily learn skills that are largely irrelevant to being a physician. It sounds like the NeuroICU is good, especially since you can also get away with doing nothing. You can spend that down time studying for classes, which is what a lot of pre-med volunteers typically end up doing. If you genuinely want to volunteer more, then find an additional experience. But it sounds like what you have now is the best thing any pre-med could ask for. Just keep cranking out hours until you apply to medical school. Good luck!

    EDIT: I didn't realize they were sending you home if they over-hire volunteers. I would just ask to stay and do your own thing, and then clock in those extra hours.

    EDIT AGAIN: Get to know the physicians there, and see if you can shadow them. Since you tend to have so much downtime, it would be great if you can shadow during your volunteer hours. This will allow you to double-dip and rack up both hours at the same time.

    I'm not advocating slacking off. Of course you should always help when asked, but there's no reason not to take advantage of the laid back environment, especially when you're being completely reliable and honest with them. But no need to mention this to the ADCOMs. :)
     
  4. LizzyM

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

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    Schools vary in what they value and even within a school, things can vary over time. My school puts a premium on paid clinical experiences over volunteer experiences so Planes2Doc's advice would not be applicable.

    First: you graduated HS 5 years ago yet say that you cannot produce a HS transcript? This is absurd. When a facility that grants HS diplomas closes or merges there is an obligation to transfer the records. Dig a little deeper with the school or contact your state's Department of Education.

    After you track down your transcript, go forward with the certification. You should also try to get some shadowing hours beyond your volunteerism.
     
    mvenus929 likes this.
  5. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    IMO, clinical volunteering as the sole source of active clinical experience hours is quite sufficient, assuming enough hours. Shadowing, being an observership, is passive clinical experience, and is listed separately on the application. Most programs will expect both types of experience.

    Can you ask to transfer to another department in the same hospital? Can you work later/earlier hours when no one else wants to be there? If not, stay for your entire shift, watch what's going on, and offer to help with various tasks. Try to meet doctors, enough that you can eventually ask to shadow.

    Also consider moving to another medical facility to help out: skilled-level nursing home, hospice, clinics (free, VA, family-planning, private), rehab centers, surgi-center, etc.
     
  6. JAH360

    JAH360

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    Thanks for y'all's input!

    I don't know why this just occurred to me, but I actually have two uncles who are surgeons, and I just asked one if I could shadow him, and he said I could shadow him or any of his colleagues any time. So I will probably spend this upcoming Christmas break racking up shadowing hours. And since my Christmas break is about three weeks long, and surgery happens 7 days a week, I figure if I shadow 8 hours worth of surgery a day, I could get about 170 shadowing hours over the break.

    LizzyM, I will actually try to call the old principal of the school, who was there when I was there, and see if she can help me find my transcripts, and I will see about going ahead with the EMT certification.

    Again, I really appreciate all of your advice!
     
  7. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Keep in mind that shadowing one person for 170 hours might not be a great use of your time. You might wish to shadow for 40 hours, enjoy your break, and find someone else in a different field to shadow after that. The point of shadowing is to get a taste of a field, and you simply don't need 170 hours to get that taste.
     
  8. mvenus929

    mvenus929 10+ Year Member

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    It's about quality, not quantity. Don't spend your entire Christmas break shadowing. Do enough to get a feel for what the surgeon does, shadow a couple of them to see if there are differences in technique, etc, and then enjoy the rest of your break. Trust me, shadowing a surgeon is only so interesting when you can't see anything and definitely can't do anything. Also, be sure to chat with the anesthesiologist while you're there. And not much surgery takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Most surgeries are still scheduled M-F from 7:30 til 4:30.
     
  9. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Don't limit your shadowing to surgical observation, which won't give you a good feel for doctor-(conscious) patient relationships. Ask if you can observe them during office hours, too. Fifty total shadowing hours would satisfy most expectations. If you can get some time with a primary care doc in there, too (that would be the doc that refers to surgeons), that would help you get a more complete overview.
     
  10. JAH360

    JAH360

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    Yeah, he actually works for a private hospital, so I could shadow all types of surgeons and primary care doctors while I'm there, assuming, as he put it, there are no unforeseeable policy changes in the future.
     
    Catalystik likes this.
  11. JAH360

    JAH360

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    OH, and I should have mentioned this earlier. Because I volunteer in the NeuroICU, we have a lot of brain dead people who are eligible for organ donation. The organization that mediates the organ donations here always lets me sit in with the families when they discuss organ donation with them. I've done this 10 or 15 times. Is this something worth mentioning on a medical school application? Does this count as shadowing?
     
  12. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    If the person having the conversation with the family is a doctor, then it qualifies as Physician Shadowing.
     
  13. mvenus929

    mvenus929 10+ Year Member

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    It is a worthwhile clinical experience, assuming you got something out of it. I'd mention it in the description of your ICU time. It's not the same thing as physician shadowing, though.
     
  14. dudewheresmymd

    dudewheresmymd Slowly Drifting... 5+ Year Member

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    Was not aware of this. Should we mention "paid clinical researcher" as opposed to clinical researcher then in the work experience description if it was paid? Problem is some of my activities were paid sometimes and not paid others (depending on funding for a given year or summer) hence I thought I would just leave the issue out as it would take too many characters explaining what % of the activity was paid/unpaid as some of them were done over the course of several years. Any advice?
     
  15. LizzyM

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

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    Research, even clinical research, is a different category. I was distinguishing EMT-B and patient care techs/nurses aides (plus non-trads who have worked as RNs, etc) from the ED and Child Life volunteers.
     
  16. dudewheresmymd

    dudewheresmymd Slowly Drifting... 5+ Year Member

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    Oh ok got it. For research/lab, is it important to mention paid vs. unpaid, or not so much (if we don't have enough room)?
     
  17. LizzyM

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

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    Not so much... but if you were FUNDED personally, for a summer, that's worth mentioning. Adcom members love to see research staff who support themselves through grants. (e.g. summer research grants awarded to undergrads)
     

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