mwriter394

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I tried searching these forums for the answer to this question, but I've been unable to find an appropriate thread.

Do medical mission trips count as clinical experience? It's sort of a vague area for me as the Panama mission I went on frequently had me in more patient contact roles that a normal volunteering day at the hospital would - it's just that those activities weren't taking place within the walls of a hospital.

Any help is appreciated!
 

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I tried searching these forums for the answer to this question, but I've been unable to find an appropriate thread.

Do medical mission trips count as clinical experience? It's sort of a vague area for me as the Panama mission I went on frequently had me in more patient contact roles that a normal volunteering day at the hospital would - it's just that those activities weren't taking place within the walls of a hospital.

Any help is appreciated!
I wouldnt use this as part of total patient contact hours as can seem to adcom as a stretch or padding. You can mention it in the description
 
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mwriter394

mwriter394

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I wouldnt use this as part of total patient contact hours as can seem to adcom as a stretch or padding. You can mention it in the description
Thank you for the insight. I suppose my primary concern is that I won't have enough time to devote to further "typical" clinical experiences such as hospital volunteering due to some of my other ECs and my studies at school. A lot of the time when I volunteer at a hospital (I've worked at two so far), I simply end up filling glove boxes, answering calls, or doing some other menial task like that, so I tend to get more value from interacting with people and performing community outreach in my other ECs. I honestly wonder how valuable of an experience schools will take the hospital experiences, but I know having that clinical experience is important to solidifying the "med school is right for me" decision.

This mission experience, however, had me addressing patients in Spanish (working toward fluency), gathering and providing prescribed medications for the patients, shadowing doctors, and assisting a dentist in teeth cleaning (as a fun, little side portion). This to me seems a little more valuable than the traditional hospital clinical experience I get as a volunteer, but I certainly don't want to stretch my volunteer hours in a dishonest fashion. I have enough nonclinical volunteer hours (realistically about 500) with a local high school program the YMCA puts on, so I'm primarily concerned about doing just service to clinical experiences.
 
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gonnif

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Thank you for the insight. I suppose my primary concern is that I won't have enough time to devote to further "typical" clinical experiences such as hospital volunteering due to some of my other ECs and my studies at school. A lot of the time when I volunteer at a hospital (I've worked at two so far), I simply end up filling glove boxes, answering calls, or doing some other menial task like that, so I tend to get more value from interacting with people and performing community outreach in my other ECs. I honestly wonder how valuable of an experience schools will take the hospital experiences, but I know having that clinical experience is important to solidifying the "med school is right for me" decision.

This mission experience, however, had me addressing patients in Spanish (working toward fluency), gathering and providing prescribed medications for the patients, shadowing doctors, and assisting a dentist in teeth cleaning (as a fun, little side portion). This to me seems a little more valuable than the traditional hospital clinical experience I get as a volunteer, but I certainly don't want to stretch my volunteer hours in a dishonest fashion. I have enough nonclinical volunteer hours (realistically about 500) with a local high school program the YMCA puts on, so I'm primarily concerned about doing just service to clinical experiences.
Well if you write up in a coherent, concise and compelling way then do it. Unfortunately there is so much medical tourism stuff that applicants do, it casts a shadow on any overseas work, hence why you need to make this mission work clear and well written
 
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candbgirl

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OP there are lots of threads on this subject. Search "voluntourism"! There is even an article describing why these trips are pretty useless in the med school application process. Find some time to expand your US based clinical experience. It doesn't have to be in a hospital. Try hospice centers, skilled nursing homes, planned parenthood etc. . Good luck.


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Catalystik

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Do medical mission trips count as clinical experience? It's sort of a vague area for me as the Panama mission I went on frequently had me in more patient contact roles that a normal volunteering day at the hospital would - it's just that those activities weren't taking place within the walls of a hospital.
This mission experience, however, had me addressing patients in Spanish (working toward fluency), gathering and providing prescribed medications for the patients, shadowing doctors, and assisting a dentist in teeth cleaning (as a fun, little side portion). This to me seems a little more valuable than the traditional hospital clinical experience I get as a volunteer, but I certainly don't want to stretch my volunteer hours in a dishonest fashion. I have enough nonclinical volunteer hours (realistically about 500) with a local high school program the YMCA puts on, so I'm primarily concerned about doing just service to clinical experiences.
Yes, you can list international clinical experience on your application, where you interacted with patients in a helpful way, but it should be counterbalanced by stronger experience in US clinical environments. If you qualified as a translator, be sure to highlight that. The physician shadowing (hopefully with US docs) should be split out and listed with your other physician shadowing; it would not be considered "volunteering" so don't double count those hours in a Volunteer-Medical/Clinical entry.

As a heads-up, take care in how you describe "gathering and providing prescribed medications for the patients" if you are not qualified to perform the same task in the US. Are you sufficiently fluent to explain how to take medication and discuss side effects and interactions with other medications? Was a pharmacist on the premises who oversaw your activities?
 
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Moose A Moose

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My mission experience was invaluable. Never was I so involved on a clinical level.

If you're in the same boat, make sure ADCOMS know it. They'll be able to tell the difference between a mission where you "vacationed" or were hard at work. If conveyed properly, I think it's a very useful part of an applicant's résumé.
 

gyngyn

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Be sure that you can confirm that your presence did not displace a local worker.
Be aware of the conflicts associated with this method of medical care delivery.
Do not appear to be proud of performing duties you would not be allowed to do in the US (or anywhere the patients had the option to refuse an unskilled practitioner).
 

Commer_Knocker

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Some adcoms might eat it up and love it.

Others might think you just spent a ridiculous amount of money most other people don't have, to play doctor in a poor country and take selfies with little kids while wearing a stethoscope.

Medical mission trips for college students are veiwed controversially, and perhaps with good reason.
 
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mwriter394

mwriter394

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Sorry to those who have found other threads on the subject; I'm new to the site and must have been searching with too specific keywords. The threads I did find did not discuss my primary question: how to categorize volunteering on a medical mission trip.

Yes, you can list international clinical experience on your application, where you interacted with patients in a helpful way, but it should be counterbalanced by stronger experience in US clinical environments. If you qualified as a translator, be sure to highlight that. The physician shadowing (hopefully with US docs) should be split out and listed with your other physician shadowing; it would not be considered "volunteering" so don't double count those hours in a Volunteer-Medical/Clinical entry.

As a heads-up, take care in how you describe "gathering and providing prescribed medications for the patients" if you are not qualified to perform the same task in the US. Are you sufficiently fluent to explain how to take medication and discuss side effects and interactions with other medications? Was a pharmacist on the premises who oversaw your activities?
We would simply gather the drugs based on the prescription (the drugs had been placed in bags with directions on them) and a local pharmacist would explain the directions for the medications (or vitamins, if those were requested) to the patients. The local pharmacist made sure we were providing the patients with the proper items.

Thank for you for clarifying the categorical differences between shadowing and clinical volunteering for AMCAS purposes.

Be sure that you can confirm that your presence did not displace a local worker.
Be aware of the conflicts associated with this method of medical care delivery.
Do not appear to be proud of performing duties you would not be allowed to do in the US (or anywhere the patients had the option to refuse an unskilled practitioner).
The goal of the organization was not to provide free service for a short time and then head out. Our larger goal is that of sustainability, so we worked with local doctors, dentists, and other health professionals to provide medical and dental services to an area that normally doesn't have access to such health care. I understand the concerns with voluntourism, but I truly believe that the trip was a part of a larger goal to help this community long-term, not just provide a week of service and then post on Facebook about it while neglecting the actual needs of the community. I'm not one to think that a week of medical service permanently transformed the whole community, but I'd like to think that I was a step toward them being healthy enough to learn about business/banking concepts or civil rights, which other missions would follow up to help with. Thank you for the tips.

Some adcoms might eat it up and love it.

Others might think you just spent a ridiculous amount of money most other people don't have, to play doctor in a poor country and take selfies with little kids while wearing a stethoscope.

Medical mission trips for college students are veiwed controversially, and perhaps with good reason.
I completely understand; I hope to write and talk about the mission trip in a way that makes people value the work we did as part of a long-term goal, not a vacation.

This discussion has made me realize that regardless, I need more shadowing and clinical volunteering experience. Thanks for your help.
 
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gyngyn

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Be aware that these pre-med missions have come to be viewed through a glass darkly.
 
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candbgirl

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We would simply gather the drugs based on the prescription (the drugs had been placed in bags with directions on them) and a local pharmacist would explain the directions for the medications (or vitamins, if those were requested) to the patients. The local pharmacist made sure we were providing the patients with the proper items.
I'm not sure I'd include this description in your narrative about the experience. You wouldn't be able to do this in the US.



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mwriter394

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I'm not sure I'd include this description in your narrative about the experience. You wouldn't be able to do this in the US.
Alright, thank you! I'll have to be careful about what I say in the description; I'll focus on the aspect of cleaning dental equipment & assisting the dentist, shadowing doctors, taking patients' blood pressure, and putting on public health lessons for the kids and adults.
 
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Catalystik

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about what I say in the description; I'll focus on the aspect of cleaning dental equipment & assisting the dentist, shadowing doctors, taking patients' blood pressure, and putting on public health lessons for the kids and adults.
Sounds good to me.
 

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Be aware that these pre-med missions have come to be viewed through a glass darkly.
That's how I'll be viewing my whisky in a few minutes.


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