Is clinical volunteering required? What about primary care shadowing?

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May 4, 2021
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How important is clinical volunteering? I know it is expected, however, I didn't have the opportunity early due to covid, and had a job in the hospital by the time it was allowed, so let it slide. I have about 700 clinical hours working as a CNA, and a couple hundred volunteer hours mostly related to tutoring and teaching, which a lot of my other ecs surround. I also have 80 hours of shadowing an oncologist. Do I need to find a primary care doctor to shadow? Is there any other experience I should try and add? Do I need to seek out clinical volunteering opportunities? If so, how much should I have?

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I asked the same question, and I was told just having clinical work was okay, with no explicit need for clinical volunteering (I'm not an expert though). It is also favorable that you have primary care shadowing if anything I think.
A lot of ADCOM people say that teaching is a different category than non-clinical volunteering. They expect service like soup kitchen, homeless shelter etc
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Volunteering is needed and clinical experience is needed. They do not have to overlap. I agree it may be wise to get some non clinical volunteering directly with underserved populations that's not tutoring/teaching especially if that tutoring was mostly within your college.

I think it would behoove you to do even just one day each of shadowing with primary care and another specialty or two. It's important to see a few different care settings in medicine, and I think important to see a primary care doc because that's what makes up the largest percentage of US doctors.
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Not speaking for everyone, but I consider all clinical exposure, whether paid or volunteer, in the same bucket. Tutoring or teaching especially your peers or in STEM courses goes in this bucket (it shows science competency).
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If you have paid clinical experience, you don't need clinical volunteering.
You do need some kind of volunteering and some adcoms hold non-clinical volunteering in high regard because it is not a two-fer (clinical and volunteer) and it can be something that gets you out of your bubble and interacting with people in desperate need who may be similar to the people you may be caring for some day as a physician.

If the tutoring/teaching was volunteer service with people who are poor (K-12 kids from very poor families, refugees trying to learn English, adults in poverty who struggle to read English), then it could count as "volunteer, non-clinical", you need not put it in the teaching/tutoring bucket. How you tag it is up to you.

If you were a volunteer helping your peer group in college, it might be best to be called "teaching/tutoring". Same goes for lessons offered to children who belong to your religious or ethnic group, call that tutoring/teaching rather than "volunteer, non-clinical".

Shadow a primary care doc in an ambulatory care setting for one work day. Maybe ask the oncologist to introduce you to a hospitalist and shadow in that environment for one day. That should be more than enough.
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