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How Important is Clinical Volunteering?

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deleted804295

    I was speaking to an MS-4 and he mentioned to me that 4 years back when he was applying clinical volunteering and having at least 100 hours wasn't necessary for him.

    How important is Clinical Volunteering actually? Is it as important as SDN makes it out to be?
     
    D

    deleted804295

      If clinical volunteering will help you score one of the (limited number of) seats in medical school ... the short answer is yes.
      I get that but this conversation sprang up after we shared our mutual hate for volunteering at the hospital.

      Stocking shelves will hardly prepare me for medical school and if anything it makes me want to avoid the hospital.
       
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      willow84

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        I get that but this conversation sprang up after we shared our mutual hate for volunteering at the hospital.

        Stocking shelves will hardly prepare me for medical school and if anything it makes me want to avoid the hospital.

        When I volunteered in the ER I shared my shift with a traditional undergrad (I'm an older nontrad). I happily stocked everything, asked for stuff to do to help out, etc. My fellow volunteer spent most of his shift on his phone because, "this won't help me be a doctor." Well when it came time for a volunteer to observe in the trauma bay guess who was asked? Definitely not the guy on his phone who thought everything was below him. Part of this journey is paying dues. We're going to be the bottom of the totem pole for awhile. Learn to embrace having to do work that you don't want to or that you think won't help you in some way. If you don't now the rest of this journey is going to be bumpy for you.
         
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        LnSin

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          I get that but this conversation sprang up after we shared our mutual hate for volunteering at the hospital.

          Stocking shelves will hardly prepare me for medical school and if anything it makes me want to avoid the hospital.

          That’s not the only way to get clinical volunteering hours. If you don’t like doing it, just find another clinical activity that you enjoy. Volunteer at a nursing home, etc.


          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
           
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          el_duderino

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            I don't think "clinical volunteering" is at all necessary. In fact, I think it's something people sort of see as checking a box for medical school admission.

            However, I do think both volunteering and clinical experience are necessary. I don't think they should come together, but sometimes clinical volunteering is the only way for someone to get clinical experience.

            A history of volunteering; that is, donating your time and effort to something that is somehow meaningful to you, is essential. That could be at a soup kitchen, a church camp, an outdoor club that does trail maintenance, a Little League team, whatever. You need to prove that you understand what service is all about and that you're willing to dedicate your career to it.

            You also need clinical experience to prove that you understand what patients are like and that you want to spend your career interacting with and helping them.

            In other words, you want to prove that you know what you're getting into and that you're willing to dedicate the rest of your life to it. There are multiple ways to do that.
             
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            deleted804295

              When I volunteered in the ER I shared my shift with a traditional undergrad (I'm an older nontrad). I happily stocked everything, asked for stuff to do to help out, etc. My fellow volunteer spent most of his shift on his phone because, "this won't help me be a doctor." Well when it came time for a volunteer to observe in the trauma bay guess who was asked? Definitely not the guy on his phone who thought everything was below him. Part of this journey is paying dues. We're going to be the bottom of the totem pole for awhile. Learn to embrace having to do work that you don't want to or that you think won't help you in some way. If you don't now the rest of this journey is going to be bumpy for you.
              Thank you. I understand the importance of staying at the bottom of the totem pole while embracing humility but I've often found myself coming short of tasks to do after stocking shelves.

              In the past I would spend all of my time on my phone after I finished my work but recently I started bringing up homework with me to work on but I feel it's inappropriate to do on my unit.

              I also find myself getting tired after I finish everything because there is no variation in it so rather than ask to do more things I just rest after finishing my tasks assigned to me because I find the work to be so boring
               

              Siromas

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                Agreed with @willow84 above- gotta pay your dues.

                It doesn't end once you're finally in med school, either. I've heard of residents gawking at tasks that were "below them". As I've been advised, keep a smile on your face, place your phone in your pocket, and try to understand that every task you get isn't always designed to directly "make you better" doctor.
                 
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                Green Turtle

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                  According to the AAMC in 2015, clinical/medical volunteering/community service was ranked the most valued experience among applicants. In this case, clinical volunteering. It was ranked higher than shadowing, leadership, and non-clinical volunteering. The reasoning behind this is that it shows your altruism, which a doctor must have, and shows that you have experience in the field and know what you're getting yourself into.

                  fMkx7CL.jpg


                  To answer your question: Yes. It is important, but it does not have to be done at a hospital in the ER. Find a local free health clinic or hospice. You want to find a volunteering opportunity where you can "smell patients" as Lizzy says. This means that you don't have to necessarily have to be talking to patients, but can't be filing papers in the back. On the other hand, interacting with patients will help you create humbling and memorable experiences to for PS, and to help you confirm your dreams of becoming a doctor.

                  And to echo @willow84, my clinical volunteering experiences have led to shadowing experiences as well.
                   
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                  Doctor-S

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                    I get that but this conversation sprang up after we shared our mutual hate for volunteering at the hospital.

                    Stocking shelves will hardly prepare me for medical school and if anything it makes me want to avoid the hospital.
                    I am appreciative when a pre-med student (who is volunteering at the AMC) asks me if there is anything they can do to help me or the residents.

                    Very much appreciate their willingness to be a team player as well as their enthusiastic and positive attitude - thank you. :)

                    Although they may not be allowed to resuscitate a patient or perform life-saving surgery (cuz they're still pre-meds if yanno what I mean!), I have been known to allow them to observe medical procedures and/or join everyone on rounds. Just saying.

                    [It's advisable to be prepared for plenty of boring tasks in the future because physicians have to be prepared to deal with lots of boring ho-hum work, too.]
                     
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                    Med Ed

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                      I was speaking to an MS-4 and he mentioned to me that 4 years back when he was applying clinical volunteering and having at least 100 hours wasn't necessary for him.

                      How important is Clinical Volunteering actually? Is it as important as SDN makes it out to be?

                      Two things you need to be competitive: (1) service, and (2) clinical exposure. Non-clinical volunteering addresses the former, shadowing the latter, clinical volunteering can potentially do both. Most applicants who receive serious consideration mix-and-match based on availability.
                       
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                      ciestar

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                        I had zero clinical volunteering. I gained my clinical experience in a much different way than most pre-meds...
                        but I am convinced my nonclinical volunteering set me apart and got me the interviews I did. (I think my passion for it shined through my secondaries and I had no issues talking about it. It came up at all of my interviews).

                        Short answer: no. You dont NEED clinical volunteering, clinical experience? Absolutely.
                        You can serve your community in other ways that are more meaningful. You can also gain more meaningful clinical experience pursuing other avenues. (Hospice is a great one. Or a VA hospital)
                         
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                        Goro

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                          I was speaking to an MS-4 and he mentioned to me that 4 years back when he was applying clinical volunteering and having at least 100 hours wasn't necessary for him.

                          How important is Clinical Volunteering actually? Is it as important as SDN makes it out to be?
                          What are you going to say when asked how you know you are suited for a life of caring for the sick and suffering? “That you just know”? Imagine how that will go over!

                          From the wise LizzyM: I am always reminded of a certain frequent poster of a few years ago. He was adamant about not volunteering as he did not want to give his services for free and he was busy and helping others was inconvenient. He matriculated to a medical school and lasted less than one year. He's now in school to become an accountant.

                          Here's the deal: You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into, and show off your altruistic, humanistic side. We need to know that you're going to like being around sick or injured people for the next 40 years.

                          Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

                          We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.

                          I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

                          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 Alzheimers 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.

                          Whether it's via volunteering or employment, one needs clinical exposure, period. Your MS4 may have had tons of nonclinical volunteer to make up for the clinical side. Or, he may have been a Stanford student with tons of research. They like research at Stanford.
                           
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                          DBC03

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                            As an anecdote (take with a grain of salt), I know someone who got into UPenn with no formal clinical exposure, but significant non-clinical volunteering experience with a specific underserved population in Philly. So I believe that volunteering is of the utmost importance. Proving you know what you getting into is also of the utmost importance (this friend had many many family members in the medical field and clearly understood it). Clinical volunteering gives you exposure to the medical field while also giving you the opportunity to give back. I have thoroughly enjoyed my position at a free clinic where I live and it reminds me why I'm going into this field. So it doesn't have to be boring - find a position with a clinical service you are truly interested in.

                            I second @willow84 - I started off by stocking medical supplies and getting water for the patients, but they quickly moved me into patient rounding where I asked the patients how they were doing and made sure their needs were met. I always offered to do anything needed no matter how seemingly boring. Jumping in no matter the role you are given will lead to more patient contact opportunities. Having the attitude that the work is below you will lead to more of the same.
                             
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                            deleted804295

                              I currently got over the 100 hour clinical volunteering barrier and I really just want to quit this.

                              Every shift I'm in feels like hell and although I don't want it to seem like I'm checking another box I can't stay here any longer without milestones to keep me motivated to volunteer more.

                              Restocking shelves just isn't the type of work I want to do. I started volunteering with something I enjoy lately and now every single time I compare my other volunteering experience with hospital volunteering I question why I do it.

                              Should I get to a specific hour mark with volunteering to make it seem like I'm not checking the boxes? I hate this volunteering position and it's pushing me away from wanting to be in the hospital period.
                               

                              LizzyM

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                                I currently got over the 100 hour clinical volunteering barrier and I really just want to quit this.

                                Every shift I'm in feels like hell and although I don't want it to seem like I'm checking another box I can't stay here any longer without milestones to keep me motivated to volunteer more.

                                Restocking shelves just isn't the type of work I want to do. I started volunteering with something I enjoy lately and now every single time I compare my other volunteering experience with hospital volunteering I question why I do it.

                                Should I get to a specific hour mark with volunteering to make it seem like I'm not checking the boxes? I hate this volunteering position and it's pushing me away from wanting to be in the hospital period.

                                Why do you think that being a medical student in a hospital is going to be any different? Do you ask for other tasks after you finish your assignment? You reported getting tired after doing one task. Do you have sufficient stamina to be a medical student? How are you building stamina to be able to do boring or repetitive tasks hour after hour? Sometimes docs have to do that, you know.
                                 
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                                deleted804295

                                  Why do you think that being a medical student in a hospital is going to be any different. Do you ask for other tasks after you finish your assignment? You reported getting tired after doing one task. Do you have sufficient stamina to be a medical student? How are you building stamina to be able to do boring or repetitive tasks hour after hour. Sometimes docs have to do that, you know.
                                  I don't know. I'll start shadowing over the summer to see if medicine is the right path for me. Volunteering with this other organization that I enjoy has been the best decision I've made so far in college because it has made me really question whether I want to continue with medicine or go down a different path.

                                  Thanks for these questions.
                                   
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                                  Matthew9Thirtyfive

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                                    I don't know. I'll start shadowing over the summer to see if medicine is the right path for me. Volunteering with this other organization that I enjoy has been the best decision I've made so far in college because it has made me really question whether I want to continue with medicine or go down a different path.

                                    Thanks for these questions.

                                    Then it was definitely worthwhile. Definitely shadow, because the actual practice of medicine isn’t what most people imagine it is. Better to find out now than after spending thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
                                     
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                                    PhilzCoffeeAddict

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                                      Sunbodi! How are you? =]

                                      I kind of agree with @Siromas that you need to pay your dues. You need to just do a 100 hours to experience it. It sounds like they're letting their volunteers serve as payless help... we've been there and done that. It sucks but once you get it, go and do something else more meaningful. Most of my MEANINGFUL volunteer work were outside of clinic/medicine and my interviewers loved what I did. I personally felt I was making more use of my time and make more a difference with my non-clinical volunteer work than being a volunteer at a hospital. If you do decide to do something like this, I highly recommend you find some kind of medically-related shadowing/internship/job that can show that you are still involved in medicine in one way or another if you still decide to become a physician. Good luck!
                                       
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                                      FlavivirusProtease

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                                        I was speaking to an MS-4 and he mentioned to me that 4 years back when he was applying clinical volunteering and having at least 100 hours wasn't necessary for him.

                                        How important is Clinical Volunteering actually? Is it as important as SDN makes it out to be?

                                        I think there's one factor that you may be missing. Med school is significantly more competitive to get into today, even as of four years ago.

                                        The 2014 entering class (The one that a current M-4 would be in) had an average matriculant GPA of 3.51 and an average MCAT of 27.2, which is approximately a 502.

                                        So even though he applied a few years ago, the information he has is out of date, and doesn't really apply to you.

                                        Edit: Let me explain why I only mentioned GPA/MCAT. Since GPA has gone up so much (Average of 3.71) you need a different way to differentiate applicants. Because really, what's the difference between someone who has a 3.79 and someone who has a 3.82? Not much at all. This is the same with the MCAT. Average then was 502ish, now it's 510ish. So the criteria have moved from GPA/MCAT to extracurriculars. Today, having a high GPA/MCAT is a given, even as few as 4 years ago, it wasn't.
                                         
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                                        bluemamba7

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                                          Why don’t you try actually interacting with/helping patients instead of restocking shelves.... I mean that’s the whole idea of clinical volunteering, and it makes your “job” 9999999999x better and more rewarding
                                           
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                                          deleted804295

                                            Sunbodi! How are you? =]

                                            I kind of agree with @Siromas that you need to pay your dues. You need to just do a 100 hours to experience it. It sounds like they're letting their volunteers serve as payless help... we've been there and done that. It sucks but once you get it, go and do something else more meaningful. Most of my MEANINGFUL volunteer work were outside of clinic/medicine and my interviewers loved what I did. I personally felt I was making more use of my time and make more a difference with my non-clinical volunteer work than being a volunteer at a hospital. If you do decide to do something like this, I highly recommend you find some kind of medically-related shadowing/internship/job that can show that you are still involved in medicine in one way or another if you still decide to become a physician. Good luck!
                                            Hey Phil! I am doing well, how are you? I always love talking to you! :)

                                            I'm greatful that somebody else has also felt this process before. I will definitely shadow because I don't want to lock myself into a path like medicine that requires so many sacrifices if it is not what I want to do 100%.
                                             
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                                            deleted804295

                                              Why don’t you try actually interacting with/helping patients instead of restocking shelves.... I mean that’s the whole idea of clinical volunteering, and it makes your “job” 9999999999x better and more rewarding
                                              Trust me, I've tried :).

                                              The unit that I volunteer on has very sick patients that really just want to rest and not have to deal with a stranger attempting to make conversation. I have had a couple great experiences with patients here and there (such as experimenting with languages that I barely know, and interacting a lot with children) but for the most part this isn't what I'm doing. :)

                                              I've come to learn that working with children is what I enjoy the most and almost all my meaningful experiences was with patients who had children visiting and who interacted with me so I'll probably end up in a field that works with children. Either pediatrics if I decide to stick with medicine, or teaching, I'm really not sure yet.
                                               
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                                              Deleted member 737595

                                                Trust me, I've tried :).

                                                The unit that I volunteer on has very sick patients that really just want to rest and not have to deal with a stranger attempting to make conversation. I have had a couple great experiences with patients here and there (such as experimenting with languages that I barely know, and interacting a lot with children) but for the most part this isn't what I'm doing. :)

                                                I've come to learn that working with children is what I enjoy the most and almost all my meaningful experiences was with patients who had children visiting and who interacted with me so I'll probably end up in a field that works with children. Either pediatrics if I decide to stick with medicine, or teaching, I'm really not sure yet.
                                                Also, go the ED in the inner city. I 100% guarantee that you will have interesting conversations and LOTS to do if you prove yourself useful.
                                                 
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                                                deleted804295

                                                  After nearly two years of volunteering at the hospital I can finally say that...

                                                  It's actually not bad. In fact I actually like it! There's a philosophy to volunteering at the hospital as there is a philosophy to arranged marriages. You might not know each other at first, in fact you might not even like each other, but as time passes by you start to grow on each other. I think the same can be said for this experience with me. :)

                                                  I've started to befriend staff members, nurses, nursing assistants, I've started to become more open with patients and my whole entire perspective has changed from initially starting to please medical schools to now going there because I genuinely enjoy it and I actually like serving patients! I'm no longer doing this for myself and I think this change in perspective has made me enjoy stacking shelves all day.
                                                   
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