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If I hate to volunteer does this mean I'm not going to like medicine?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by NemoFish, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. NemoFish

    NemoFish Member
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    Hello,

    I am volunteering, both clinically and in an underserved community, though I hate my volunteering and hate all the other volunteering I've done for med school application purposes. To tell you the truth, it's not that I don't like being in the hospital, I just hate VOLUNTEERING. I'd rather be studying, hanging out with friends, going out, etc.--anything but volunteering.

    My quesiton is: do you think this means I'm not going to like medicine? Of course, I'm going to keep volunteering until the day I turn in my AMCAS form, at which point I'm going to stop, never to volunteer again, but I was just wondering.

    And this is a serious question. I'm sure there are others out there who dislike being "forced" to volunteer as part of an unwritten rule about med school apps.
     
  2. Trekkie963

    Trekkie963 Senior Member
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    I do think that's a pretty bad sign. You should think about why it is you think you'd enjoy medicine, and why you don't enjoy experiencing it as a volunteer in a healthcare setting.
     
  3. lukeday99

    lukeday99 Nooby
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    Seriously, dude, you should be going into medicine because you love working with people. Not for the name, not for the prestige, not as something to say to pick up chicks. If you don't like people, what's the point? Go work in a lab with little microbes. All any of my clinical expereince allowed me was the knowledge that I really do want to do this. Really consider this, cause I think its a bad sign.

    In all seriousness, you might be a sweet researcher, however.

    And you will not be able to hide this from your interviewers. They're crafty.
     
  4. evines

    evines peek-a-boo
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    Let's be real . . . I think it's perfectly normal to hate many of the volunteer posts we premeds put up with. Most of it is crap. You have to really look for a position that will be worth the energy and time expended.
     
  5. frick

    frick Senior Member
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    Most of the 'clinical experience' premeds get actually interferes with the process of patient care. I don't see why it's so important to the admissions committies to have 2 years when you could get almost as much out of it in ~2 wks (at least enough to know you're not averse to it).

    Unless you get to the point where you're doing something useful (ie, nursing tasks), there's a whole lot of better ways to spend your time than hanging out around sick people you can't do anything to help. Spend your time enjoying college if you're gonna be in the clinic for the rest of your post-ugrad life.
     
  6. juddson

    juddson 3K Member
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    I agree with evines.

    I didn't like volunteering either. I think how one feels about it has no bearing on whether you will like being a doctor. Most volunteering consists of meaningless menial tasks (or worse, no tasks at all). Being a doctor has nothing (little) to do with babysitting, filling up water bottles or answering the phones at the volunteer desk.

    More to the point, I know MANY people who appear to LOVE what they do for a living. NONE of them would do it for free (or even for half what they currently make) despite liking what they do a lot.

    I suspect the OP is railing against the "forced" aspect of volunteering because he probably feels that most of his time spent there is wasted. I resented it too. The only medical related EC is liked was shadowing, but even then only when I was allowed to get personally involved. In the whole volunteering sucks ass. By and large you are ignored by the docs, treated like **** by the nurses and mistaken for a "call button" by the patients. That's NOT doctoring.

    Judd
     
  7. DrPharaohX

    DrPharaohX Free...your...mind...
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    NemoFish:

    I think it's normal to hate some of the volutneering you've done. As a pre-med who does not know and is not expected to know what's going on with the medical cases, it sometimes requires from the nurses and doctors that they ask volutneers if they want to see something, or come help them with a patient, etc. That makes for a much smoother volunteering experience. I can understand what you're saying, but you have to ask yourself a few things:

    1. Do you hate volutneering because of the fact that you file or do some other mundane task not related to medicine?

    2. Do you hate it because doctors/nurses won't come ask you to help them out or to come see something?

    3. Do you actually not like interacting with patients or their families? Do you not like the hospital/clinic staff that you work with?

    Points 1 and 2 require some participation from the healthcare staff, so that they can provide you with a LEARNING, rather than a passive, experience. However, you could also do something about it. Just keep an eye and ear open to what's going on around you, and don't be afraid to ask. If you see a doctor or nurse next to you writing paperwork or pausing between cases, go up to them! It might be hard at first, I know. Most of the time they'll be glad to have you observe cases with them, and once you just have that one person who wants to help you out, the experience will be a whole lot better.

    Point 3 you have to think about, because that's one of the core basics of working in medicine. If you know you like interacting with people but don't find yourself interacting with those you work with, maybe it's because you put in your mind a pre conceived attitude of hating volunteering. Hence, when you do go volunteer you lose focus and daydream, and continue to foster boredom for yourself. Like I said above, if you're aware of what's going on then maybe you can introduce yourself and ask to see this case or that case. A brief question like "I understand this patient has this ____ Can I observe the case with you please, and can you explain to me what's going on?" helps a lot, and for the most part nurses and especially doctors are happy that you have an interest in medicine and will be happy to explain to you and show you what's going on.

    I hope this helps. Remember, volutneering is what you make of it, it really is. I know sometimes it's hard to initiate or introduce yourself. But these are hurdles we have to overcome. You have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain. :)
     
  8. Plastix.MD

    Plastix.MD Junior Member
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    Volunteering is what you make of it. If you are there holding the kidney basin for an 80 year old geriatric to stop puking with thoughts of "beer, friends, movies, etc." it will be the worst experience ever. But, if you are in the mind set of a potential physician it should and would be different.

    For instance, why is this patient vomiting yellow sputum? Could he have pneumonia or could it even be some form of pulmonary cancer? This is extreme, but when I volunteer I do the "scut" work but I make the physicians and nurses pay me back with their intellect. Utilize this unique opportunity to know the inner workings of a hospital and get a head start on all pre-meds by formulating your own lectures. Most physicians are busy, but if you ask them intellectually stimulating questions they will be more than glad to assist you.

    Also, the medical profession deals with curing the sick. You will be properly trained at obtaining H&Ps and doing a thorough exam in medical school, but try to use this time to work on humanisitc and empathy skills. A lot of these old timers have very interesting stories to share and to my surprise I actually learned a lot of medicine from them too. Just because they are old, crippled, and plagued with morbidities does not make them unintelligent masses seeping for our "scut" work and attention.

    Persevere and go with a proactive approach to volunteering. Well, this what I have found to work for me. Good luck! :p
     
  9. hakksar

    hakksar Senior Member
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    First off, if you don't like volunteering because you are doing menial taks maybe you should volunteer somewhere else (Possibly getting an EMT and volunteering on the local rescue squad, working with the county health department on community education about vaccines, or even tutoring high school kids in biology and chemistry). However, if you don't like volunteering just because you would rather be paid then medicine may not be right for you. In order to be a good physician you have to put the patient before yourself at all times - even if you will not be paid for your efforts. This means working 80 hours a week for minimal pay during residency, answering pages from the nurses station at 3 in the morning when your patient has an unexpected complication or your orders were not understood, and even forgoing holidays with family because your patients need you. Volunteering teaches you to put others in front of your own needs (and if you think hanging out with friends, studying, or sleeping are more important than helping others than medicine may not be the right career for you).
     
  10. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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  11. uclacrewdude

    uclacrewdude the uclacrewdude abides
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    if you dont like volunteering, youre gonna hate clinical yrs and residency (aka, indentured servitude).
     
  12. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member
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    Nemofish is apparently a MS3 trying to choose a specialty.
     
  13. kito

    kito Big Evil
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  14. bella_dottoressa

    bella_dottoressa make it happen
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    I didn't read all the replies so forgive me if this is redundant....

    I don't think its a bad sign, I just think you may not have found the RIGHT volunteer positions. When I volunteered doing super mundane stuff in the hospital my freshman year of school, I didn't really get a thrill out of it either. But once I started looking outside of the hospital....free clinics, hospice, a suicide prevention line, a first aid service corps....I found truly rewarding volunteer experiences that I not only didn't dread going to each week but looked FORWARD to doing. Some of these positions were the first times in my life I'd felt like I was doing rewarding, fulfilling work. I would suggest looking for stuff where you can have a really active role; often these types of positions involve more training than say, a hospital volunteer position...but still. If you are dreading your volunteer work now, it's going to be really hard to fake enthusiasm about them when interview time rolls around and you're discussing your passion for them.
     
  15. 34140

    34140 Senior Member
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    I volunteered in two different hospitals, but both in the ER, one of them I absolutely loved, the staff really cared about volunteers, and answered any questions you had. The other made me do paperword in the back room, i never saw a patient. I think it depends on where you are. But since you hate both your volunteering places, have you tried research? Maybe you'd like that better, I hated research, it was like being back in o chem lab. It just depends, the question is do you really hate working with the people, or being at the low end of the pole?:confused:
     
  16. jlee9531

    jlee9531 J,A,S
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    hahaha...

    i love the abuse tho...hence i love volunteering...

    my experience at the childrens hospital oakland...one of the main influences into why i want to head into medicine. not the most important reason...but it helped me focus on what kind of medicine i wanted to do.
     
  17. Mr Reddly

    Mr Reddly Snowglobe!
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    I didn't much care for a lot of the volunteering I did either.

    I remember being in fast track and a patient's mother asked me what high school I went to (the patient, her son, was in the 8th grade). I told her I was an electrical engineer.

    Multiple times, nurses would seem surprised that I was still there late at night. They would ask if my mother was OK with my being there. I would respond "Why? It's been a while since I lived with her? But you're right. My boss will be upset if I'm late for work in the morning. (it's the red hair. I look young)

    Now, that's not to say I don't like the patient care environment.

    At work, I love going and watching surgeries or talking with 'our' patients because I'm no longer the "high school kid that shouldn't handle sharps cuz its too dangerous". Now, I'm the guy that gets called when problems arise. I?m the guy who can answer your questions. ..same environment, totally different feeling. Instead of just looking in, I'm now apart of the system/solution.

    As for outside the hospital, most were the same? wasn?t needed. Then, I volunteered to read to/with a student at a local grade school. Totally awesome. I was actually helping and was wanted.

    ...let the flaming commence.:(
     
  18. ericdamiansean

    ericdamiansean High Profiler
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    you are not alone, there are bound to be quite abit of students who do not like volunteering, though i do, medicine's more of a calling for me than as a career.

    perhaps you would like to get into research after you grad?
     
  19. Spitting Camel

    Spitting Camel Anteater for Life!
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    What's with the three first names?
     
  20. TheRussian

    TheRussian Life Size Mirror
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    I did very little volunteering while in college. This is not because I don't like it, I'm just poor and needed money. So I took an EMT course and worked for a private company. I don't think it hurt me that much during the application process.
    At one of my interviews my interviewer asked me what the weakest part of my application was and I proceeded to talk about how I haven't done as much volunteering as I wanted to because I needed money to pay for school. And as I was explaining it, he interupted me and said "well you did do EMT work right? That's almost the same thing."
    The point is that you don't have to volunteer to be a good applicant. As long as you have relevent EC's it doesn't matter whether you get paid for doing the m or not.
     
  21. Maxip

    Maxip Member
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    Yes... not enjoying filing paperwork and delivering cups of ice IS a problem. That's crap; volunteering sucks because it has nothing to do with medicine, at least the positions I got. It's just a hoop... jump through it.
     
  22. Trekkie963

    Trekkie963 Senior Member
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    I think other posters have covered this already, but if you find the right volunteer opportunity, you won't just be filing paperwork and delivering cups of ice. I spend at least 12 hours a week volunteering as an EMT, organize hospice and ER volunteer opportunities and have travelled to Uganda and Kenya to gives AIDS awareness presentations and help construct clinics. I love all the volunteering I have done, and because of that I know I will love being a doctor.

    I didn't just jump through hoops. I explored what's out there in the field of healthcare, learned about health issues, etablished relationships with people in real need and did my best to make a difference.
     
  23. g3pro

    g3pro Dr. Mogley
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    I'm really curious why people like volunteering, especially when the volunteering involves menial tasks. Further, I'm really curious if people volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts or if they do it just to pad their applications.

    "Empathy skills"? Is the objective of volunteering to learn how to be a phony? Or is it done so that you can talk about something during your interview?


    I have experienced this same problem in undergraduate admissions. Do you guys have any ideas why so many people volunteered at summer camps for children affected with muscular dystrophy? I can tell you for sure that they didn't do it out of the goodness of their hearts...



    I think this is the dilemna of admissions. The adcoms want students to get some experience in the clinical setting. But students are greedy, they want an edge over other students. So what do they do? They do hospital volunteering during the summer in Uganda! This is getting quite ridiculous where students feel obligated to volunteer.

    And this is the heart of the problem: obligation. Volunteering would be fun if you did it out of your generosity. However, as the original poster stated, wouldn't you rather be hanging out with your friends or studying? And I know this for a fact: most people would rather be doing other stuff than volunteering. They think they need to volunteer, though, to pad their apps. And with this I challenge those who 'truly' enjoy volunteering: why are you doing it in the first place?
     
    LeenoRocks likes this.
  24. g3pro

    g3pro Dr. Mogley
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    oh sorry, trekkie, i didn't see that you already posted. :p
     
  25. Trekkie963

    Trekkie963 Senior Member
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    That's alright. I can still briefly address some other reasons why I actually like volunteering:

    -I am exposed to things that I wouldn't normally be exposed to. Learning about other people and other cultures helps me to approach problems in new ways, which I think will ultimately not only help me to be a good doctor, but has already helped me to just be a good friend and enjoy my own life more.

    -I am able to help people. This is an honest reason why volunteering can be "fun." It feels really, really good to have people appreciate something you do for them.

    -I can develop new skills. Volunteering often places you in situations where you are challenged to extend your capabilities. I have learned all about grant-writing, for example, because that was something I had to do for my some of my volunteer work. As an EMT, I am constantly working with patients, so I have been able to develop my ability to interact with them--ask the right questions, make them feel at ease, etc.

    I don't think its necessarily a bad thing that pre-medical students are sort of expected to volunteer during their undergrad years. Honestly, I have personally gained a whole lot from my volunteer experiences that I think is going to ultimately help me become a good medical student and future doctor. If not getting paid is the problem some people have with the "required" volunteering, as someone else has already pointed out you could totally just go work as an EMT and get a lot of the same experience. I think that would be a great experience for a lot of these people who are complaining about having to do paperwork or whatever.

    Of course, there are times when I'll be on duty with EMS and all my friends will go out for boba or something and I can't go and I'll be all like "dang, when is this shift over?" But when I get a call that someone just dislocated his shoulder and he thanks me profusely when I finish my checkup and my supervisor tells me I did a great job and she's going to miss me when I go off to med school next year, well that feels great. It's a tradeoff. It's also, to use a cliche, an investment in my future.
     
  26. DMO

    DMO Diving Medical Officer
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    I guess the reason most people hate volunteering is that most of the jobs are menial and does not give an adequate view into medicine. If I could not get a "good" volunteering spot, screw it. I'd rather take classes to be an EMT or CNA. That kind of stuff would be more interesting and meaningful.
     
  27. MichiMO

    MichiMO Senior Member
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    Volunteering can be about something different than either the profound desire to "help people" or the profound desire to look better on your medical school applications!
    I began volunteering after a medical shadowing program in high school. I volunteered because I just wanted more exposure to the medical field. Some days were boring and some days I really felt that I had kept someone company who really needed their day to brighten up a little. Of course I wasn't getting "clinical experience." I wasn't trained to do anything clinical! But I was getting an idea of what it would be like to work in a hospital, deal with sick people, to take on the role of the caregiver. All of that was very valuable and I did enjoy it. But I also kept my expectations of it at a reasonable level.
    I also did the whole volunteer in Africa thing and this was something that changed me as a person...in a way I cannot explain. It was not about one-uping all of the other applicants...I really desperatly wanted to work in Africa for many years and, yes, for the record, I do want to go back there to work...more than I could tell you.
    I think the reason schools want you to volunteer is because they want you to have some sort of varied life experience. They also want you to have some experiences that motivate and test your desire to enter medicine.
    If volunteering isn't giving you this, then don't do it. I don't think volunteering is on some mandatory admissions check off list. If you can't talk about it in any meaningful way in your interview/personal statement, I really don't think it is going to help you. You want things that distinguish you...that show what you are about. Hopefully this is something that will make you a better doctor in the future.
     

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