Hospital Volunteering = Non-clininical Volunteering?

Mar 30, 2010
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Are the two "equal"?

I will have between 50-100 hospital volunteer hours by the time I apply (non-science major, jumped in on the med school thing a little later than most) BUT I will have various volunteer hours from my clubs.

If I actually have decent experiences to talk about in an interview from the hospital volunteering, will my generally low number of hospital hours hurt me? I don't think it's mathematically possible for me to really rack them up at this point given my schedule and their hours available too (volunteering is apparently in high demand).

Also, a Doc I shadowed said how hospital volunteering was essentially worthless and that I should volunteer for stuff, possibly even non-clinical, that I actually like.

Can anyone provide any input and verify if these assumptions are correct? Esp. those who have been through the interview process in the past.

THANKS!
 

Isoprop

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Most hospital volunteer stuff is crap. Not all, but most. I got asked more about my shadowing and other clinical experience. No one gave a crap about it unless you didn't do it.

I personally had 100 hours of hospital volunteering in various departments. No one cared.

There are other non-hospital clinical experience that's really important. Shadowing is valuable. Also, I got asked a lot about my hospice and nursing home work.

A lot of people were interested in my teaching ECs and my work with homelessness.

I view hospital volunteering as something to "check off" on your EC list but not very important. Only important if you don't have it. I think 50-100 hours is more than enough as long as you have other clinical ECs. And non-clinical ECs are important to have.
 

Cheshyre

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Totally agree with Isoprop, except I'll be less harsh.

Volunteering is good, but not necessary. What Admissions really cares about is whether you have clinical exposure. The important question, assuming that you've proven to them that you're intelligent enough to survive medical school / a decent enough person to not abuse physician privilege, is this: Do you know what you're getting into?
 

TriagePreMed

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Everyone is saying that most hospital volunteering is crap. What is the minority that is hospital volunteering that counts? I can see how front desk worker is BS, but would being a volunteer at the ER count?
 

Isoprop

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Everyone is saying that most hospital volunteering is crap. What is the minority that is hospital volunteering that counts? I can see how front desk worker is BS, but would being a volunteer at the ER count?
The ideal hospital volunteering experience would be in a teaching hospital that allows you to rotate through the hospital from department to department where you have meaningful interactions with patients, families, and staff. They teach you a few things about medicine like a few things about history/physical, how to take vitals, etc. You are given some responsibilities (even if strictly supervised) on patient care.

Most hospital experiences suck. At the bare minimum, you should be able to see and talk to patients (getting blankets, fetching water, talking to families). And even then, nobody cares that you did it. They only care if you didn't do this.
 

Goro

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Also, a Doc I shadowed said how hospital volunteering was essentially worthless and that I should volunteer for stuff, possibly even non-clinical, that I actually like.

Can anyone provide any input and verify if these assumptions are correct? Esp. those who have been through the interview process in the past.

Well, as a member of an AdCom, we DO take hospital and patient contact volunteering very seriously, and we (and other schools) have rejected people who have gobs of research and non-clinical volunteer work. You need to show that you actually like being around patients. The more altruistic you can show yourself, the better.
 

Cheshyre

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Everyone is saying that most hospital volunteering is crap. What is the minority that is hospital volunteering that counts? I can see how front desk worker is BS, but would being a volunteer at the ER count?
I didn't say it was crap. I said it's not necessary if you can substitute it with something else. You could work as an EMT - that would give you both clinical exposure and help convince the AdCom that you're a person devoted to service. Of course, if you wanted to volunteer you could do that as well. I've heard of absolutely amazing hospital volunteering opportunities. I had one as well - I volunteered in the physical rehabilitation department because they wanted someone who could connect with the younger patients better than an older physician or PT could. My assignment was to be there with a weekly group therapy session for kids with cerebral palsy. It was awesome. Lots of patient contact, lots of really close up observations of professionals doing their job.

Now, there is hospital volunteering that is less useful. For example, if you volunteer in the hospital cafeteria as a busboy (I did this - it was fun and a learning experience in its own way because I got to see where families went when they weren't with the docs and what docs were like off the clock)... well, you've put your service hours in. Now, what kind of clinical exposure did you get?
 
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Hospital volunteering experiences can be extremely variable within a single hospital. I've volunteered in 1 department where I got a lot of patient interaction and another department where all I did was janitorial work....while the janitor was there doing the same thing. Essentially, I didn't do anything because the janitor took all the work. What is one to do in a situation like that? I get more comfortable being in a hospital, but I hardly think that my volunteering is actually reflective of my passion for serving patients. I get so much more out of shadowing to the point that it's not even a fair comparison.

I'm basically providing free janitorial services to the hospital. But what makes it worse is that the hospital has to hire the janitor anyway. So I'm not even a cost saving measure for the hospital. I stand there with a sweet uniform and walk around for a while.
 

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my volunteer experience at the hospital was painful. all i did was clean things. i can't muster up any enthusiasm when I talk about it.
 
OP
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my volunteer experience at the hospital was painful. all i did was clean things. i can't muster up any enthusiasm when I talk about it.
+1 billion

And for the record, I really love shadowing a doctor - especially in the hospital. I love being around the hospital, being near the patients, and actually seeing a doc do his/her work.
 

Postal

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There are a couple of hospitals that have good volunteering programs and then there are hospitals where you are sort of an extra with no real role other than to wear the uniform and rack up hours.

I found my shadowing experiences to be much more useful.
 
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I've been shadowing a D.O now for awhile now at her private practice and I'm getting more and more patient exposure plus one on one with the physician which is cool. Outside from this, the only type of volunteering I've been consistently involved with is habitat for humanity. I take pride in using my hands to build something that poor people will live in one day.

Whether your doing it because you love helping people or because you know in your heart your doing it just to get into med school, volunteer at something that your good at doing and you enjoy.
 

Isoprop

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I highly suggest people get involved in hospice volunteering. Like hospital volunteering, there can be a lot of crap, but there are a few moments that can change your life forever.

I got a lot of comments about hospice volunteer work.
 

beckhunter116

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I'll preface this with the fact that I have not been accepted to Medical School!

Volunteer where you feel your strengths will benefit that association, where you learn some type or skill/disposition you are lacking, or where you would gladly spend your afternoon. At the end of each cycle there will be thousands of applicants that will not have an acceptance, at the end of that day you need to be happy with what you've done, not just checking off some type of experience on the path to medical school. If you are happy, confident, and enthusiastic where every you are people will notice, they will allow you to do more, show you more, and go out of their way to assist you on this path! Just my two cents.
 
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my volunteer experience at the hospital was painful. all i did was clean things. i can't muster up any enthusiasm when I talk about it.
I guess I'm in the minority, but I really enjoy my er volunteering, and look forward to it every week. I think it might partly be that I'm in a small department, but I actually get to do stuff like take temperatures, move patients, assist with changing diapers, hold demented people/ children down, and I can observe every interesting procedure or patient that come in, stand right at the head of the bed during codes etc.
 

CunningCaregivr

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... at the end of that day you need to be happy with what you've done, not just checking off some type of experience on the path to medical school.
+1 there. Definitely inquire about what you will spend your time doing. I was able to volunteer in the emergency department, and be exposed to several patients per day. Volunteers elsewhere in the hospital were delivering emails/telegrams to patients and handing out parking validations to families.

Beyond the hospital there are plenty of great volunteer gigs that will motivate you. Just look for it, and do not settle for something you will not enjoy. That is simply a waste of time and ink on your resume.
 
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I volunteer in the ED. Does this actually count as "clinical experience"? I just do the basic stuff... transporting patients, delivering lab specimens, etc so nothing exciting. I am trying to find a doctor to shadow but am not having much luck (also I am busy with other activities during the semester). I am applying this upcoming summer... what do I do?