yanks26dmb

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Nov 7, 2008
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Does volunteer work need to be medically related to hold significance with adcomm's? I have an opportunity to do something pretty awesome, and unique, but not sure if will hold much weight. Specifically, I'm thinking about living in a buddhist monastery in Laos and teaching english/computer skills to the monks living there. Seems like it'd be a great life experience, but was wondering how adcomm's view things like this...Thanks!
 
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Apr 23, 2013
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Medical Student
Does volunteer work need to be medically related to hold significance with adcomm's? I have an opportunity to do something pretty awesome, and unique, but not sure if will hold much weight. Specifically, I'm thinking about living in a buddhist monastery in Laos and teaching english/computer skills to the monks living there. Seems like it'd be a great life experience, but was wondering how adcomm's view things like this...Thanks!
My entirely non-clinical volunteer work has been viewed very, very positively in my application cycle. You need to show clinical exposure in your application, but aside from that, pursue the volunteer experiences that interest you and are interesting--moving to Laos and teaching english and computer skills to monks sounds like an incredible opportunity.
 
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Goro

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Jun 10, 2010
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That's interesting, but I'd rather you show me you want to spend the next 30-40 years around sick or injured people and their families. Teaching English seems more like a vocation rather than a calling.

ECs need to be a mix of both clinical and non-clinical stuff. The former does not always have to be hospital-related.

Does volunteer work need to be medically related to hold significance with adcomm's? I have an opportunity to do something pretty awesome, and unique, but not sure if will hold much weight. Specifically, I'm thinking about living in a buddhist monastery in Laos and teaching english/computer skills to the monks living there. Seems like it'd be a great life experience, but was wondering how adcomm's view things like this...Thanks!
 
Jun 28, 2012
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That sounds like an awesome experience! I doubt that adcomms would look down on your volunteering experience and it would probably serve as a good conversation topic as well as demonstrate cultural sensitivity. I also think that you should gain some kind of clinical experience, whether it's through volunteering at a hospital or shadowing a doctor. That way you can show that you know what you're getting in to as well.
 
Aug 8, 2013
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Michigan
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I would say that the point of volunteer ECs on your application is to show an interest in serving people since that's what the profession is all about. How you define "serving" is very much up in the air, but I don't think any sort of work-without-pay is seen equally. Some people really need service from you - your greater community, sick people, those less fortunate - while there are others who could do fine without your free labor....monks who want to use computers, one of those Euro-farm deals where you work for your keep. Your volunteer opportunity sounds like cheap travel/adventure in disguise. Certainly interesting to talk about on an application, but not really showing off selflessness or a desire to help those in need.
 
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Planes2Doc

Residency is ruff!
7+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2012
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Honestly it's getting harder and harder to come up with "unique" things these days. It's probably been done before.

With that said, just make sure that you do a few things. First of all, make sure you check off the check-boxes that need to be checked. You'll still need clinical experience and a sexy amount of hours to go with it to appease the ADCOMs. Of course it's good to do things that you genuinely enjoy and can write about or talk about passionately as well.

Also be sure that whatever you do doesn't negatively affect your grades or MCAT. Those are the most important things when it comes to your application. ECs won't save poor numbers.
 

alpinism

Give Em' the Jet Fuel
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Nov 6, 2011
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Volunteering doesn't have to be medically related.

Find something you're passionate about and try your best to make a difference.
 

organdonor

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Jul 29, 2009
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You'll want plenty of clinical exposure; you'll also want some kind of volunteer work to demonstrate altruism; these do not have to be done in the same activity.
 
Oct 15, 2013
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Does volunteer work need to be medically related to hold significance with adcomm's? I have an opportunity to do something pretty awesome, and unique, but not sure if will hold much weight. Specifically, I'm thinking about living in a buddhist monastery in Laos and teaching english/computer skills to the monks living there. Seems like it'd be a great life experience, but was wondering how adcomm's view things like this...Thanks!

That sounds amazing!!! I would do that in a heartbeat.. If there is any way you can add a public health component to it, like raising health awareness in the area or something, it will be the ultimate experience. Or maybe you can look for involvement in the local clinics/ hospitals and volunteer there in your free time?
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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Mar 7, 2005
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Service need not be "unique". If you can alleviate suffering in your community through service to the poor, homeless, illiterate, fatherless, etc, you are meeting an otherwise unmet need and learning more about the lives of the people (or types of people) who will someday be your patients.
Service in another part of the world, while important, is not as highly value as you might imagine. Teaching English and computer skills on the surface doesn't appear to alleviate suffering. Are these skills the monks can use to be self-supporting? I concur with the person who said that this looks like an exotic vacation. I wouldn't put any effort into finding an additional volunteer gig in a clinic or hospital there; it would be very low yield unless you are very familiar with the language and culture; if you think American hospital voluneering is boring (folding blankets and stocking shelves), imagine how much less you can do if you are unable to understand what is going on, unable to communicate with others, and have no clincial skills to offer.
 
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