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good places to volunteer/research for people with social anxiety?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by fourstar, May 3, 2004.

  1. fourstar

    fourstar Member
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    yes, social anxiety disorder, an actual psychological disorder, not just "everyday shyness" or the phase most everyone goes through

    S.A. is one of the main reasons that i haven't seeked for volunteering positions or tried talking to a professor about a research position and I'm about to enter my JUNIOR year!

    so please offer some good places to volunteer/research/ or any other kind of EC activity
     
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  3. camstah

    camstah running thru dandelions
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    how do you know if you have social anxiety disorder? what are the symptoms?
     
  4. maoeris

    maoeris Senior Member
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    If you have Social anxiety disorder why do you want to go into medicine? You need to get treatment if it is serious. I know people who take medication for it, so before seeking to volunteer I would seek treatment and join a support group.
     
  5. sacrament

    sacrament somewhere east
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    Bah. I don't have social anxiety disorder but I have a strong dislike of human interaction that makes it appear to others as though I have a social anxiety disorder, and the whole "why in the world would you want to go into medicine?" question drives me crazy. Like only one sort of person with one sort of motivation would be interested in medicine... There are as many different reasons to pursue medicine as there are people on earth, and a fair number of them are completely valid.
     
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  6. KatieOConnor

    KatieOConnor Senior Member
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    Does medication help? You're going to have to fight this, because you're going to have to deal in social situations during/after medical school.

    At some hospitals, you can volunteer in a back room, helping with filing and stuff. You can do similar things in some research labs.
     
  7. sacc

    sacc Member
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    Hey Fourstar,
    If you're looking for possible volunteering places, try volunteermatch.org. You can enter your zipcode and then it lists a bunch of opportunities. You might find one that doesn't have a ton of person-to-person contact.
    If you want to ask a prof or someone for research projects maybe email would be easier for you than asking in person. Then when you do meet in person it might take some of the edge off?
    I got a volunteering thing in a hospital lab once by calling them and telling them that I just wanted to watch how they did CBC's, urinalysis, etc and that I could only work at night. They said sure. So every Friday night I'd volunteer there until like 1:00 or 2:00am and it was great because there were only two people in the lab at that time and not very many people in the hospital. If large crowds make you uncomfortable then something like that might help.
    Lastly, I have to agree with other posters that if you're not seeing someone about your anxiety then you might think it. Even if you go into an area of medicine where you don't get much patient contact (i.e. pathology, radiology), you still have to deal with people throughout medical school and your residency. Also, if you don't have it, "The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook" is great for learning techniques like cue-controlled relaxation, progressive muscle relaxtion, thought stopping, etc. The ISBN is 1567315011. Anyway, good luck!
     
  8. sleepyincal

    sleepyincal Member
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    I have Social/Generalized Anxiety Disorders too and didn't do any extracurriculars for my first 3 semesters. I went to my school's counseling center for a few months, and now am on medication that helps. I'm comfortable enough to be a peer counselor and work in a hospital (although large-group activities are still uncomfortable for me...). I suggest not letting an anxiety disorder limit your options.
     
  9. CalBeE

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    I'm gonna throw in some ideas as well. I think for a person with anxiety disorder, it's probably easier to volunteer in places where one doesn't have to initiate and carry on the conversation

    For eg. Phone Helpline--most of the time you're listening, but you inject comments every once in a while

    Or at places where you have very specific sets of questions to ask

    For eg. At the hospital I volunteer in, some people do patient survey about their hospital experience. Therefore, they're asking a set of questions on paper, and it's less anxiety-inducing. Of course, the survey can trigger a casual conversation with the patient.
     
  10. ajnak182

    ajnak182 MCATretaker4life
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    Sacrament, I was wondering what drives you to become a doc if you don't like dealing with people? I figure that medicine involves an incredible amount of human interaction, except maybe for research, so I was just curious as to what inspires you to enter the profession when there is something that you probably don't like about it? Most people I talk to that are interested in being docs like the profession for the fact that you get to interact with so many people, so it'd be interesting to get a new perspective from ya.

    AJ
     
  11. I'm also curious. To the OP - do you have generalized anxiety disorder? Have no meds worked well for you?

    There are certain fields that don't require as much human interaction - rads and path come to mind. You will still have to hack it through med school and residency, however.

    To those with social anxiety, what is it that drives you to becoming a physician? Maybe you could use this to help quell your fears. Talking about it with a therapist would definitely help too.
     
  12. sacrament

    sacrament somewhere east
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    Some people just can't resist. :D


    The answer to this is extremely complicated, and would result in about 99% of SDNers condemning me for going into medicine for "the wrong reasons." (Needless to say, I think this is total BS.) But a portion of the answer is this: I don't think you have to enjoy people in order to enjoy taking care of their health. Already in my clinical preceptorships I've observed that I don't much care for interacting with the patients, but I do enjoy seeing that they've gotten better during follow-up visits. It's a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that exists separate from any enjoyment or lack thereof that comes from interacting with them.
     
  13. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    It does seem to be more problematic to volunteer when you have a social anxiety disorder.

    Here are some suggestion though...

    1. the City Morgue- you could get a first hand look at pathology
    2. learn chemical chemistry and analyze blood chemistries
    3. research lab- send an e-mail first with your interest and resume and then maybe you can avoid the meet with the prof until he is really interested in you.
    4. clinical research at a hospital- often deals with data entry and minimal social interaction

    If you want to conquer this and force yourself to be around people:
    1. become an EMT or CPR/First Aid instructor
    2. Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchen etc.
    3. work in a hospital setting.

    Good luck!
     

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