Help planning next steps for getting clinical experience

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DOCOC15

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I applied this last cycle and didn't get in, with just 1 interview and waitlist. My stats are good (517 MCAT, 3.85 GPA). The feedback I got was that I need more clinical experience, as all I had was working as a caregiver for 1 academic year. I'm non-trad and have a full-time job that's not healthcare related.

The options I'm looking at are either:

a) Some sort of hospital based clinical volunteering where I can get a lot of hours after work/on weekends
b) Taking an evening EMT course that runs through December, then doing weekend volunteering as an EMT. I would also try to do clinical volunteering while taking the course, but I'd only have 6 months of volunteer EMT work before applying and the number of hospital volunteering hours would be lower than option a.

Is the EMT course worth it if I'm only able to get 6 months of work in before applying?

Thanks

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Don't bother with the EMT course. Go for real clinical exposure.

Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

Some types of volunteer activities are more appealing than others. Volunteering in a nice suburban hospital is all very well and good and all but doesn't show that you're willing to dig in and get your hands dirty in the same way that working with the developmentally disabled (or homeless, the dying, or Alzheimer’s or mentally ill or elderly or ESL or domestic, rural impoverished) does. The uncomfortable situations are the ones that really demonstrate your altruism and get you 'brownie points'. Plus, they frankly teach you more -- they develop your compassion and humanity in ways comfortable situations can't.
 
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I agree that you don't need an EMT course but you do need service in a clinical setting where patients are receiving services from physicians in your presence. Scribe work is very common these days and certainly would fit if you could get some work hours evenings and weekends. This would mostly likely be in an emergency department setting.

You could also look into the possibility of volunteering in an emergency department or a NICU on weekends. The point should be that the location is in a hospital or clinic given that your previous experience appears to be outside of that setting which could be part of the reason it was considered "less than".
 
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Echoing the above, I'd say you need to find quality clincal experience. In my neck of the woods, that was hard to find as a volunteer. I opted for an EMT class, then worked as a CNA in a hospital--the cert is transferable. Point being, I wanted to do more than just hand out blankets and stock shelves. I think, as a fellow nontrad, it will be easier for you to accumulate meaningful experience as an employee than as a volunteer. 6 months of full time work will provide plenty of stories. You can also work as a scribe or medical assistant.
 
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I agree that you don't need an EMT course but you do need service in a clinical setting where patients are receiving services from physicians in your presence. Scribe work is very common these days and certainly would fit if you could get some work hours evenings and weekends. This would mostly likely be in an emergency department setting.

You could also look into the possibility of volunteering in an emergency department or a NICU on weekends. The point should be that the location is in a hospital or clinic given that your previous experience appears to be outside of that setting which could be part of the reason it was considered "less than".

Thanks for the info. I'm not sure how feasible scribing is with full-time work given the training timelines and only being able to work limited hours.

I don't think volunteering where you're with a physician providing care really exists. I found hospital volunteering where I can work with patient's directly, but I don't think a physician is present most of the time. Do you know of any specific types of volunteer roles directly with doctors? Or is being in a hospital and working with patients enough? I thought the typical pre-med experience of directly watching physicians came from shadowing.


Here are a few different volunteer programs I'm looking at. Do any of these descriptions sound like they'd be appropriate options? If not, I'll look more closely into scribing.

1) Every Hospital patient is more than his or her illness. By exercising compassion, responsiveness and excellence, Patient Care Volunteers can make a major contribution to overall treatment and recovery. In this role, you will gain hands-on experience on a hospital nursing unit as you provide comfort and communicate with patients of all ages. On any given shift, you may be responsible for pharmacy and lab rounds, responding to call bells, feeding patients or fulfilling patient and family requests. Working as part of the nursing team, you will have an opportunity to enhance the quality of life of hospitalized patients. This program is ideal for volunteers considering a health profession.

2) Discover whether a career in healthcare is for you by taking the time to volunteer in the clinical environment. You will be rounding on patients, answering call bells, engaging in conversation, escalating concerns, and supporting their nutritional needs at mealtime. You will also support staff by running errands, assisting with projects, and stocking supplies. You will work closely with nurses, nursing assistants, and unit clerks, among others.

3) Emergency department visits often generate high levels of anxiety for patients and family members. As a Project Contact volunteer, you will facilitate various aspects of the visit to improve the overall experience and contribute to quality healthcare. You will work directly with patients, families, and medical professionals while observing and learning in a modern fast-paced emergency room. You will help feed patients, attend to non-medical needs, stock supplies, transport patients and retrieve medications as you make the most of compassionate care and good communication skills.

4) Delirium Program volunteers provide non-medical interventions to promote cognitive stimulation, reorient to the environment, and increase mobility. Volunteers serve as part of a team to treat active cases of delirium and prevent delirium in high risk cases and gain one on one patient experience in medical and surgical unit settings. Orientation, ongoing supervision and education will be provided.

5) Emergency Department (ED) volunteers assist Emergency Room personnel in creating a comfortable environment that respects and nurtures the dignity of our patients. Volunteers provide companionship to lonely and anxious patients, serve as a liaison among patients, families, and staff, greet patients and visitors in the waiting area, deliver messages, and explain visiting policies.
 
I don't think volunteering where you're with a physician providing care really exists. I found hospital volunteering where I can work with patient's directly, but I don't think a physician is present most of the time. Do you know of any specific types of volunteer roles directly with doctors? Or is being in a hospital and working with patients enough? I thought the typical pre-med experience of directly watching physicians came from shadowing.

The idea is that unlike being on a rig on the way to the hospital, or in home hospice services where people are getting care in their own homes, we'd like to see applicants have experience in a setting (a building) where physicians are at work. You might not be in the same room with the physician but you are in the same unit (emergency department, hospital nursing unit, or an outpatient clinic or doctors' office. It is good to get to know how hospitals are run, what some of the rules and expectations are, and the roles of various team members. You really don't get that in home or pre-hospital care settings.
 
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