Is "Home Health" considered clinical experience?

jtsmalls

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May 26, 2011
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    I'm having a VERY difficult time finding clinical experience. Where I live, they don't let volunteers anywhere near the patients. No exaggeration. I've contacted many hospitals and medical centers, and attended their orientations to find out you basically can't get past the information desk or waiting room. Similar with nursing homes and hospices I've checked with. They all site "liability" issues.

    I've come to the conclusion that I'll have to get certified in something and get employment if I ever want to have patient contact. Problem is, I can't fit even a modest part-time job into my school schedule.

    Someone suggested home health care to me. That means you go into someone's home and help care for them. Usually once or twice a week for a few hours. Take vitals, blood glucose, help them take a shower... stuff like that.

    I'm assuming this isn't a common premed job. Has anyone ever done this, and how is it perceived in regards to clinical experience? I'm so frustrated at the lack of good local volunteering options...
     

    bucks2010

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      Yea the vols at my place don't get too much contact either... mostly passing out cookies if anything. I do imagine there is some kind of liability attached to it though. for example, vitals are usually taken by aides, who work under the RN's license, giving them liability ... so you couldn't even do that in a hospital b/c you're not eligible to work under the RN's license, if that makes sense.

      however, what you described for home health:

      "Take vitals, blood glucose, help them take a shower... stuff like that." is exactly what aides do, so I think it would be an excellent experience. it's certainly better than nothing. like you said, it will be difficult to get any meaningful clinical pt contact w/o employment. if you really want to get pt contact in a clinical setting, I would try calling up some free clinics in your area and asking about what you could do. if I had to guess I'd say these places will prob let you do a little more since they're smaller and have (presumably) less red tape.
       

      motomed

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        IMO, home health would be a great thing to have on an application in terms of showing your willingness to serve and care for others. just make sure you're also shadowing physicians, as home health will give you zero insight into what a physician does. volunteers and aides in the hospital at least get to see physicians working, and even they need to do official shadowing to convince some people they understand what a physician does.

        home health is no joke though, so make sure it's something you actually have a heart for or you'll never last in it.
         
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        Isoprop

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          I have a hard time that a hospital, hospice, or nursing home won't let volunteers NEAR patients. You don't have to be taking vitals to be getting clinical exposure. You have to, you know, be there. Maybe get a new pillow or talk to them.

          Especially the nursing home. Oh GOD will they let you talk to patients in a nursing home.
           

          Isoprop

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            Oh and yes home health definintely counts as clinical experience in my book. What those people do will get them automatically into the special heaven where angels are your personal servants and God is your limo driver.
             

            jtsmalls

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              Thank you to everyone for responding. I hadn't even thought of the fact that there aren't any other medical professionals around when you're in a home health setting.

              I have been doing some shadowing. I enjoy it.


              I have a hard time that a hospital, hospice, or nursing home won't let volunteers NEAR patients. You don't have to be taking vitals to be getting clinical exposure. You have to, you know, be there. Maybe get a new pillow or talk to them.

              Especially the nursing home. Oh GOD will they let you talk to patients in a nursing home.

              Funny you should mention the pillow thing. Last week I had someone tell me, "we can't even let you make the beds here." I don't consider talking to the patients to be clinical experience. That's just my opinion. Plenty of people apply to medical school with real, meaningful patient interactions of a clinical nature, and that's what I'm going to strive for.
               

              Hoya2009

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                I volunteered as a patient escort. Maybe you could look into that? Transporting patients from room to room to treatments, etc...
                Got a lot and really good interactions with patients/family/crazy family/doctors/RNs/techs/etc... And all kinds of patients, peds, surgery, geriatrics, etc...
                You pretty much interact with everyone in the hospital. That would be worthwhile if you could find it.
                 

                jtsmalls

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                  You are entitled to your opinion but I don't share it. Talking with patients in a clinical setting is very much a clinical experience.


                  So you're saying that pretty much any volunteer position in a hospital is clinical experience, or are there some that aren't?

                  I just feel like helping out in a waiting area isn't clinical. It only feels clinical to me if it's *direct care* of some sort. For instance, I consider answering a call light or transporting a patient (..I can't find those opportunities) to be clinical, but working at an information desk to help people navigate the hospital is not. Granted, I'm talking to patients at the information desk, but I'd also be talking to patients if I worked the phones.
                   

                  LizzyM

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                    So you're saying that pretty much any volunteer position in a hospital is clinical experience, or are there some that aren't?

                    I just feel like helping out in a waiting area isn't clinical. It only feels clinical to me if it's *direct care* of some sort. For instance, I consider answering a call light or transporting a patient (..I can't find those opportunities) to be clinical, but working at an information desk to help people navigate the hospital is not. Granted, I'm talking to patients at the information desk, but I'd also be talking to patients if I worked the phones.

                    Patience, ability to listen well and communicate clearly, ability to deal with the public even those who may be frazzled or nervous and chosing to take it out on you, willingness to do the same thing over and over for different people.... those seem to be skills that physicians need, no?

                    I wouldn't count the gift shop as clinical or a back room in the pharmacy counting pills but most of the other volunteer gigs for college students would require face to face interaction with patents.
                     

                    Tapepsi

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                      Patience, ability to listen well and communicate clearly, ability to deal with the public even those who may be frazzled or nervous and chosing to take it out on you, willingness to do the same thing over and over for different people.... those seem to be skills that physicians need, no?

                      I wouldn't count the gift shop as clinical or a back room in the pharmacy counting pills but most of the other volunteer gigs for college students would require face to face interaction with patents.

                      I agree with LizzyM 100%. You can encounter patients in a variety of settings, and any interactions you can get with them face-to-face is a clinical experience in my book. Even when I was volunteering at a hospital the only thing I got to do was refill water pitchers. It was the patients who I communicated with that made the experience meaningful.
                       
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                      shezadeh

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                        You are entitled to your opinion but I don't share it. Talking with patients in a clinical setting is very much a clinical experience.

                        Would you consider the case of one who took care of a chronically ill family member (bedridden, pain IV's, nutritive IV's, use of ambu bag on a number of occasions) to be clinical experience? It's not in a hospital, but like the OP, many of us find ourselves in situations where shadowing is difficult.
                         

                        LizzyM

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                          Taking care of a family member is a gray area. It is a loved one and you do it out of love and, perhaps, obligation. It is not a stranger. It is someone with whom you can communicate easily or at least with familiarity (perhaps through non-verbal commuication on their part depending on the nature of their illness/disability). So in many ways it is quite different than the experience you would get doing simple things for strangers in a clinical setting.

                          The point of clinical experience prior to medical school is not to know how to adjust an IV drip or use an ambu bag but to become more comfortable dealing with strangers who are sick or injured or otherwise in need of comfort. Physician assistant programs put a larger emphasis on having clinical employment before admission but medical school expects that you will learn all of those skills in medical school but it is essential that you understand that the environment is going to include strangers who are not all sunshine and rainbows and lollipops.
                           

                          Xlorgguss

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                            Taking care of a family member is a gray area. It is a loved one and you do it out of love and, perhaps, obligation. It is not a stranger. It is someone with whom you can communicate easily or at least with familiarity (perhaps through non-verbal commuication on their part depending on the nature of their illness/disability). So in many ways it is quite different than the experience you would get doing simple things for strangers in a clinical setting.

                            The point of clinical experience prior to medical school is not to know how to adjust an IV drip or use an ambu bag but to become more comfortable dealing with strangers who are sick or injured or otherwise in need of comfort. Physician assistant programs put a larger emphasis on having clinical employment before admission but medical school expects that you will learn all of those skills in medical school but it is essential that you understand that the environment is going to include strangers who are not all sunshine and rainbows and lollipops.

                            I thought that in a previous thread you didn't consider HHA's clinical experience because they were considered "residents" and not really "patients". For the past 8.5 months I have been working as a sort of HHA in a residential setting for people with developmental disabilities. They are also aging so it's sort of interesting seeing the combination. But on top of the stuff like showering, cooking, driving around, monitoring, etc, I do stuff like passing medications, taking vitals, assisting in physical therapy protocol and exercises, and to some extent assisting in individuals with their own self advocacy. I mean I certainly have gotten tons of experience that I never thought I would get. I now have experience working with a variety of developmental disabilities (cerebral palsy, down's, etc) and the challenges of aging (dementia, Alzheimer's).

                            But I was really bummed when I thought that my employment wasn't really seen as clinical because honestly it was a motivating factor in leaving my previous employer.

                            I think the thread I'm thinking of was about Equine Therapy or something like that?
                             

                            LizzyM

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                              I thought that in a previous thread you didn't consider HHA's clinical experience because they were considered "residents" and not really "patients". For the past 8.5 months I have been working as a sort of HHA in a residential setting for people with developmental disabilities. They are also aging so it's sort of interesting seeing the combination. But on top of the stuff like showering, cooking, driving around, monitoring, etc, I do stuff like passing medications, taking vitals, assisting in physical therapy protocol and exercises, and to some extent assisting in individuals with their own self advocacy. I mean I certainly have gotten tons of experience that I never thought I would get. I now have experience working with a variety of developmental disabilities (cerebral palsy, down's, etc) and the challenges of aging (dementia, Alzheimer's).

                              But I was really bummed when I thought that my employment wasn't really seen as clinical because honestly it was a motivating factor in leaving my previous employer.

                              I think the thread I'm thinking of was about Equine Therapy or something like that?

                              Employment is listed on the application as "employment, non-military". You write the description. The adcom takes your employment into account when evaluating your application.

                              Volunteer experiences are classified as "clinical" or "non-clinical". Frankly, this year some adcom members surprised me by putting much more weight on non-clinical volunteerism that had some aspect of community service because they were looking for people who put an emphasis on serving those in need in their community in their free time (time outside of school or work).

                              At the same time, whether through work, volunteerism or shadowing, you should know what doctors do, how they structure their time (the proportion spent actually talking with and doing things to patients vs paperwork, meetings, continuing education, etc ).
                               

                              KMCAT

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                                Maybe a rescue squad might be good for you.. There is a LOT of patient care involved. If you are interested in ER, you might also get to meet some doctors (not often -- once in a blue moon)

                                If you don't want to get certified as an EMT, how about maybe first aid (CPR). It's a lot to talk about during interviews and it's a great volunteering experience?
                                 

                                Ohyeah

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                                  Good ideas posted in here already. I agree that shadowing is a strong alternative, considering that you'll be able to observe all kinds of cases and procedures, daily demands of various physicians, and general function of different clinical settings.

                                  Another possible way to get direct patient interaction is via a medical service trip. See if any organizations at your school offer these. You can get great experience directly helping the poor and underserved abroad. Just be aware of the potential ethical issues surrounding these types of trips.
                                   

                                  Cambino

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                                    I'm having a VERY difficult time finding clinical experience. Where I live, they don't let volunteers anywhere near the patients. No exaggeration. I've contacted many hospitals and medical centers, and attended their orientations to find out you basically can't get past the information desk or waiting room. Similar with nursing homes and hospices I've checked with. They all site "liability" issues.

                                    I've come to the conclusion that I'll have to get certified in something and get employment if I ever want to have patient contact. Problem is, I can't fit even a modest part-time job into my school schedule.

                                    Someone suggested home health care to me. That means you go into someone's home and help care for them. Usually once or twice a week for a few hours. Take vitals, blood glucose, help them take a shower... stuff like that.

                                    I'm assuming this isn't a common premed job. Has anyone ever done this, and how is it perceived in regards to clinical experience? I'm so frustrated at the lack of good local volunteering options...

                                    Start your own non-profit fundraiser and donate it all charity. $10,000 >
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