hospital volunteering: finish committment or stop wasting time with it?

cerulean

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The university hospital that I volunteered at has a 3 semester committment for student volunteers. I volunteered there for one semester during my freshman year and essentially restocked supplies with little patient interaction. I'm trying to decide if I should continue volunteering there to fulfill my committment (2 more semesters) or if I should cut my losses and not bother.

My situation: I'm entering my senior year. I have very little clinical experience (only that one semester of volunteering + watching one open heart surgery). If i don't do the other second semesters of volunteering, I doubt I can rely on being able to list that first semester of volunteering on AMCAS. However, volunteering there was useless in gaining any meaningful clinical experience and I don't see any educational reason for spending 4 hrs/ week for the next 2 semesters doing something that I'm not going to learn from.

I'm not applying until next cycle so I was hoping to do some shadowing in the 2nd semester and then do something more intensive over the summer (volunteer full-time in an international or at least urban medical setting) if possible.

If this plan seems possible to achieve and seems like it would provide sufficient clinical expereince, I'm quite willing to forsake putting the one semester of volunteering down (and thus eliminating the need to volunteer for 2 more semesters). However, if it seems like hospital volunteering would still be beneficial from an application standpoint, please let me know.
 

DoctorPardi

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Volunteering is volunteering, it isn't like you have to be volunteering catching babies falling from burning buildings.

I would say you need to complete your committment. It will give you a good number of volunteer hours to mention if nothing else. Also I don't think you can include watching open heart surgery as volunteer work lol.

4 hours a week is not a lot of work and you could probably fit that into your schedule without hassle. I would say having 100+ hours of volunteer work versus having 30 or so would be beneficial to your application even if you didn't have much patient contact.
 

mvenus929

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You could also ask the volunteer coordinator if he/she could put you into a position where you have some patient interaction... perhaps driving wheelchairs around. Worth a shot.
 
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coralfangs

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ya, switch around til u find something that u like
i switched units 3 times before i ended up at my long term care community

like venus said, talk to ur coordinator and see if he/she can help u (most often they are happy to help instead of losing a nice volunteer half way through)
 

RokChalkJayhawk

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Try and figure out a way that you can get paid. If you're going to be doing senseless stuff, at least make some money doing it.

I worked for a couple years as a patient transporter, which allowed for a lot of patient interaction and was good money. Every big hospital needs a lot of transporters.
 

Everglide

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Volunteering in a hospital hardly counts as clinical experience. I mean we all know that volunteering at a hospital means you're restocking supplies etc... you're attempting to get into med school, obviously you aren't going to be doing any doctor's or nurse's duties.

My suggestion is that you finish out the grunt work of volunteering, and also look into asking doctors if you can shadow them. Shadowing doctors will truely count as clinical experience and it won't boring or lame.

Good luck.
 

notdeadyet

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Everglide said:
Volunteering in a hospital hardly counts as clinical experience. I mean we all know that volunteering at a hospital means you're restocking supplies etc...

Shadowing doctors will truely count as clinical experience and it won't boring or lame.
Take this with a big grain of salt.

Some hospital volunteering gigs are very nonclinical. But many are much more hands on. If it's a big program, adcoms probably know the difference. But at the end of the day, it's volunteering in a clinical environment in which your participation is ultimately helping others. This is a big plus with adcoms. This is why even if you have professional clinical experience, they still want to see volunteer experience somewhere on your app.

Shadowing is great for showing that you have a good handle on what it means to be a doctor. But I would be very careful if this is the only clinical experience that you have. Shadowing can be viewed by many as not being particularly contibutive to the medical process. It's a lot of fun, but oftentimes no one benefits but you.

Many different ways to skin a cat. I've done both. Personally, I found shadowing a lot of fun, but volunteering was more helpful.
 

cdngirl80

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My volunteering experience in the emergency dept was similar but I made an effort to go and visit with patients who were there by themselves. Some of the doctors would let me sit in sometimes while they were treating that particular patient (if I happened to be there when they came in to see them).

I think at the end of the day its what you want to make out of the experience.
 

SeventhSon

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i volunteered in an ER and i initially thought it was wasting my time. However, if you make an effort to make it worth your time (talking to drs./nurses about cases coming in, etc.) you can make it worth your time. It depends whether you get that opportunity and whether or not your heart is truly in it... it sounds like not.
 

gujuDoc

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cerulean said:
The university hospital that I volunteered at has a 3 semester committment for student volunteers. I volunteered there for one semester during my freshman year and essentially restocked supplies with little patient interaction. I'm trying to decide if I should continue volunteering there to fulfill my committment (2 more semesters) or if I should cut my losses and not bother.

My situation: I'm entering my senior year. I have very little clinical experience (only that one semester of volunteering + watching one open heart surgery). If i don't do the other second semesters of volunteering, I doubt I can rely on being able to list that first semester of volunteering on AMCAS. However, volunteering there was useless in gaining any meaningful clinical experience and I don't see any educational reason for spending 4 hrs/ week for the next 2 semesters doing something that I'm not going to learn from.

I'm not applying until next cycle so I was hoping to do some shadowing in the 2nd semester and then do something more intensive over the summer (volunteer full-time in an international or at least urban medical setting) if possible.

If this plan seems possible to achieve and seems like it would provide sufficient clinical expereince, I'm quite willing to forsake putting the one semester of volunteering down (and thus eliminating the need to volunteer for 2 more semesters). However, if it seems like hospital volunteering would still be beneficial from an application standpoint, please let me know.
Volunteer there and then somewhere else additionally that will give more clinical contact.
 

gujuDoc

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Everglide said:
Volunteering in a hospital hardly counts as clinical experience. I mean we all know that volunteering at a hospital means you're restocking supplies etc... you're attempting to get into med school, obviously you aren't going to be doing any doctor's or nurse's duties.

My suggestion is that you finish out the grunt work of volunteering, and also look into asking doctors if you can shadow them. Shadowing doctors will truely count as clinical experience and it won't boring or lame.

Good luck.
\

Not necessarily true. A lot of places say shadowing is poor choice of clinical experience. I think both hold their places but the most comprehensive clinical experience is only that of which you get if you have certification in something like Phlebotomy, Surg tech, EMT, PCT, CNA, blah blah blah.

Otherwise do some volunteering and shadowing as a combo or a med mission trip.
 

jmart

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I volunteer in the ER. I was one of the first to start a new program where we seek patients and enroll them in reseach. There have been little htings that I have done for patietns while not busy that they have really appreciated, from getting a food tray, to teling the doctor to go see a patient who has been waiting for too long. I got a promotion and now I get paid every quarter to make sure things are running smoothly. I love it and it's given me an dopportunity to know some of the techs, nurses, and doctors.
 

MonkeyNuts!

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Volunteered in an ER and stood around most of the time. I was mad at first until I realized that emergency stuff you need trained people for, and also the ER had plenty of staff.

If you find another volunteer position, try to find one in a clinic designed for low income patients, generally you will get a lot more exposure there. Plus it will show you a side of medicine that they usually don't show on ER, House, or Grey's.
 
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cerulean

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eternalrage said:
Volunteered in an ER and stood around most of the time. I was mad at first until I realized that emergency stuff you need trained people for, and also the ER had plenty of staff.

If you find another volunteer position, try to find one in a clinic designed for low income patients, generally you will get a lot more exposure there. Plus it will show you a side of medicine that they usually don't show on ER, House, or Grey's.
I was really hoping to find a volunteer position in a clinic that serves a low-income population, but the only one that's geographically nearby only wants medical and dental professionals to volunteer in their clinic. Other volunteers do clerical work and similar things. So even though I'd be happy that my time was going towards a good cause (i.e. a place that probably has few paid employees and thus is better able to operate due to volunteers' efforts), I still wouldn't get much patient interaction.

I'm mostly frustrated with the thought of continuing hospital volunteering since I'll have a busy schedule next semester (6 science/engineering classes including 2 labs...need to finish graduation reqs and pre-med reqs) plus I'll be involved in extracurriculars that I'm really excited about (10-15 hrs/week). Spending 4 hours/week volunteering at the hospital is doable and really not that much of a time committment, but if I can't handle all of my time committments and spend the time I need on my classes, I'll probably have to decrease my extracurricular involvement. I'm not too happy about the idea of taking time away from activities where I can be of use to people and where I can accomplish more with my time (in small organizations, one person's time can do a lot) in order to spend time where I can't be of much help to either patients or staff and where I'm not learning much from the experience.

Thanks for your input everyone. At this point, I think I'll finish my committment with volunteering and try to get the most out of it and perhaps form contacts to find someone to shadow in the following semester. Anyone have suggestions on what departments to volunteer in? ER vs. pediatrics vs. anywhere else?
 
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