How important is length of service? (volunteering)

WildOne

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    Looking for advice. I am considering applying this cycle, but I am a bit hesitant because my volunteer experiences only span over an 8-10 month period. My clinical and non-clinical volunteering hours are at about 140-160 hours each. My GPA = 3.64 and MCAT= 511, if this info helps.

    Should I postpone my application to the next cycle?
     

    LizzyM

    the evil queen of numbers
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      Why did you volunteer? Why did you begin volunteering when you did? When you say 8-10 months, did you begin all your volunteering in fall 2019 or was it a 8-10 month perior that began at an earlier point in time?
       

      WildOne

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        I wasn’t quite sure if medicine was within reach for me until recently.

        I’m a first gen college student that messed up my GPA during my freshman year. I decided to take a break from school to work for a few years while exploring other careers and helping out my parents financially.

        When I returned to school in 17-18, medicine remained an interest of mine...so I decided to try again. My first two semesters were focused on learning how to become a better student, and GPA repair. As things began to look better academically, I decided to begin volunteering to gain experience.

        Yes, I began around fall 2019. Aside from the above, the delay was also due in part to some trouble finding and securing opportunities in a small rural town.
         
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        HouseJC

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          Hello there! To follow up on LizzyM's post, I think she is asking you the WHY, as this is what you need to write and communicate to Admissions Committee members in your work/activities descriptions and personal statement.

          Hours and consistency are important, but explaining WHY (pertaining to Lizzy's question) is even more important! Why did you volunteer? How did those experiences strengthen your desire for a career in medicine?

          Good luck!
           
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          LizzyM

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            Thanks @HouseJC. I am getting to the motivation for volunteering. What drove the OP to volunteer? Was it understood to be a requirement like Physics or Chemistry that you fit into the schedule when you can or was there some other reason for doing it? If there was some other reason, is there a reason that it was pushed aside for as long as it was?

            If volunteering is done just to meet an expectation of the adcoms, doing it for a short period of time (even if the hours of service are average or above) will be more likely to be seen as a check box and less likely to be considered evidence of altruism and a passion for community service. This is not to say that such evidence and passion is required for admission but it can be one factor among many in a holistic review.
             
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            HouseJC

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              (Edited to remove PS info)

              Yes, we all have our story. To add on to Lizzy's point, it's not JUST a numbers game. Your story, intent and your actions/activities all form the overall package of who you are. I'm also applying for medical school this year, but when choosing my activities and writing my statement, I made sure everything flows. Don't just add something in because of what you may think Adcom wants to see. Be who you are, as that's that what the Adcoms care about the most.

              Good luck and I hope we are successful this round :)
               

              WildOne

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                Thanks! I decided to skip this cycle and apply next cycle instead based on the comments I received. It was a painful decision as does mean another year of waiting, but I hope it is ultimately the right choice. Good luck to you this cycle!

                The issue I am having right now is finding a clinical volunteer opportunity. The clinics and hospitals are not accepting volunteers at the moment given the pandemic. Wonder how long the "shortage" will last, and how it will affect future cycles.
                 
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