Hospital volunteering while studying abroad in the Netherlands?

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So I will be studying abroad (undergrad) in the Netherlands next semester.

Does anyone have any clue if it is common to do hospital volunteer work in Europe? Similar to the volunteer work done in the US?

I sent a few e-mails and the person who responded seemed confused, hah.

Any advice on this?
 
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Richardh

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I would imagine that doing hospital volunteer work in Europe is common as in the US? In regards to if it is similar type of volunteer work like in the US, I don't think so. Even in the US, the type of volunteer experience varies from hospital to hospital.

But I think it's pretty neat for you to do hospital volunteer work in Europe. You can share your unique experience during either your interview or your personal statement.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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I'm pretty sure it's possible, but chances are you'll need a visa (not just the 6 month student visa you get at customs) to do so as volunteering can be construed as working. I don't know the Dutch requirements, but this was true of the U.K. at least.
 

eli20

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I'm not entirely sure about the Netherlands but volunteering while studying abroad, at least in Europe can be a very complicated and difficult thing to set up. In my personal experience I had difficulty even with the required visa and in the end wished I wouldnt have gotten it. If you join any clubs at the university you're studying at it's often easier to just slide in unnoticed with the group. Also if you really want to learn a lot about the differences in health care systems, which is something I was interested in I think the best source of information is having conversations - with students, people in a coffee shop, I even set up a few interviews with providers.
 
Sep 29, 2009
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I'm not entirely sure about the Netherlands but volunteering while studying abroad, at least in Europe can be a very complicated and difficult thing to set up. In my personal experience I had difficulty even with the required visa and in the end wished I wouldnt have gotten it. If you join any clubs at the university you're studying at it's often easier to just slide in unnoticed with the group. Also if you really want to learn a lot about the differences in health care systems, which is something I was interested in I think the best source of information is having conversations - with students, people in a coffee shop, I even set up a few interviews with providers.
On that note, shadowing is NOT something you need a visa for. I was told that I did in fact need a visa to shadow a physician in the U.K. and I went through a ridiculous amount of trouble to get that visa. Then I got there and found out it was completely unnecessary.

Shadowing abroad was fun. The doctors were all really excited to hear my opinions about the medical system in the U.S.
 
Jul 17, 2010
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So I will be studying abroad (undergrad) in the Netherlands next semester.

Does anyone have any clue if it is common to do hospital volunteer work in Europe? Similar to the volunteer work done in the US?

I sent a few e-mails and the person who responded seemed confused, hah.

Any advice on this?
I studied abroad while I was in undergrad too in Spain.

I have no idea how common or how much effort it took to shadow in a hospital because it never crossed my mind.

I did NOTHING related to medicine and science while I was there. I have to admit that it was pretty awesome.

I can understand how it would be interesting to be in a foreign hospital system and see how it works. It would make interesting interview conversation too. But most likely, what you learn about the system doesn't matter much because you will be practicing in the US (unless health policy is your thang).

This is not to discourage you from shadowing or volunteering abroad. But being abroad is your chance to throw aside your regular responsibilities and try completely new things. While volunteering abroad is different than in the US, it is still volunteering after all. In Europe, there are so many things to experience that are impossible to find anything remotely like it in the US. Go enjoy that stuff.
 
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Thanks for the advice everyone!

Part of the reason I was trying to see if I could volunteer abroad is because I actually haven't done any hospital volunteering yet...I am a junior and I only recently started thinking about med school. I will probably apply to postbac programs, and I am trying to get some clinical experience and see if I actually like it before I commit. Unfortunately, the timing is such that I will be in Europe until just a few months before I'd have to send my postbac applications, so I'm trying to squish everything in to a small time frame. On that note, I shadowed a doctor for the first time today and it was great!
 
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If volunteering might be too complicated ('work' permits and such), how about shadowing abroad? Do you think I should approach that the same way I would here in the US (call up and ask, politely of course)?
 

SarahBellum1

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I studied abroad in New Zealand last semester, and I was intending on volunteering at one of the hospitals there. I e-mailed the few hospitals in my area and even a nursing home but they said they wouldn't allow it (bc I was only there a short time). And they said that they only let medical students shadow doctors. So, I hope you have better luck than I did! :-\
 
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Don't do it.

I just studied abroad and spent a lot of time on a research project that was amazing, but that I realize now could probably have been done at my home university. I feel like I missed out on the things that you learn from studying abroad - this is cliche, forgive me - the types of things you learn about yourself. Go out and experience a different life, rather than clinging to what you have in the US. Your character will grow and change, which is so, so important, even if you can't put it on your MD application.

Furthermore, things to consider (some already mentioned):

- near-impossible to volunteer in Europe if you're not completing an organized clinical
- from my experiences, they have very few volunteers here, and most have specific medical skills (ie: do you have anything special to offer them?)
- if you don't speak the language (fluently, not the "dutch in 60 minutes" sort of thing), you will be more a burden than an asset
- most countries' student visa requirements ban all types of non-academic work, so read the fine print carefully
- you'll find once you're here that there are so many more things you want to do than you anticipated. don't over-commit yourself to the types of things you'd do in the US. that was my mistake.

good luck!
 

SarahBellum1

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You know...now that I'm actually thinking about it...I'm kind of glad I didn't volunteer! (Though I am still curious as to how the hospital system worked in NZ) I didn't feel obligated to do anything, so I was able to really experience the whole country by traveling to a different place almost every weekend. Not to turn you away from volunteering there, especially if you haven't really done any yet, but this is an amazing experience that you should take full advantage of by completely immersing yourself into the culture without having to worry about medical school too much--travel around the country as much as you can, learn about the culture and language, meet lots of friends and build lasting relationships :) Every medical applicant volunteers in hospitals. The experiences you have abroad could potentially set you apart from the rest (assuming you aren't just going abroad just to "learn how to party in a different country" haha), or at least it would give you something to talk about in your med school interviews...