Jan 5, 2021
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Hello!

I’m interested in pursuing National Health Corps for my gap year experience. If anyone’s been through it or knows anything please let me know if you have the answers to the following questions.

1) I wanted to take two gap years, but I know the National Health Corps program is just 10.5 months. Can I do two terms back to back, whether at the same host site or not? Would I have to go through the application process again?

2) Could the program be considered as clinical experience? That’s the main thing missing from my application, as I think I have a lot of research experience as well as community service. I’m passionate about community work especially, but I know I don’t need more of it which is why I am drawn to National Health Corps since I can do what I love but also get some clinical experience. I’m not worried about the stipend as I’ll be living at home if I get in.

Thanks!
 
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LizzyM

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Here's what a quick search turned up regarding the tasks National Health Corps volunteers take on:
Some of the services members provide include teaching health education workshops on topics such as diabetes, nutrition, sexual health, and smoking cessation; enrolling patients in health insurance and pharmacy medication assistance programs; promoting and coordinating health screening and testing; and recruiting volunteers.

So, I see the word patients once but it is unclear whether these activities take place in health care settings or if they are in community centers, county buildings, etc. If you would be working in a clinical site where patients are receiving clinical services, then you might count it as clinical experience but teaching and promoting screening programs might be a bit of a stretch as "clinical", particularly if your application is light in that regard. You need to get into a place where you are working or volunteering in close proximity to licensed health professionals and where patients are being cared for.
 
Jul 24, 2020
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Here's what a quick search turned up regarding the tasks National Health Corps volunteers take on:
Some of the services members provide include teaching health education workshops on topics such as diabetes, nutrition, sexual health, and smoking cessation; enrolling patients in health insurance and pharmacy medication assistance programs; promoting and coordinating health screening and testing; and recruiting volunteers.

So, I see the word patients once but it is unclear whether these activities take place in health care settings or if they are in community centers, county buildings, etc. If you would be working in a clinical site where patients are receiving clinical services, then you might count it as clinical experience but teaching and promoting screening programs might be a bit of a stretch as "clinical", particularly if your application is light in that regard. You need to get into a place where you are working or volunteering in close proximity to licensed health professionals and where patients are being cared for.
Some sites are hospitals, some are community centers. It just depends on which state/site you apply to and are assigned to.
 
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LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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Mar 7, 2005
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Some sites are hospitals, some are community centers. It just depends on which state/site you apply to and are assigned to.
If you need clinical experience, that should factor into your decision to apply to/accept a given assignment. If you won't know where you'll be and what you'll be doing until after you commit to the program, I'd think that is too risky given your goals for the year.
 
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Oct 15, 2019
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Hi! I'm currently a National Health Corps member at the Florida operating site. There are other operating sites as well in different parts of the country, but hopefully I can still help answer your questions!

First, I just want to clarify something real quick! For National Health Corps specifically, you are able to choose what location and what host site you prefer/are applying to. In other words, you will know what the position is before you commit to it so it takes a lot of risk out of the equation. There are other AmeriCorps programs that assign you to be somewhere, but this is not the case for National Health Corps.

To answer JFromMars' questions:

1) You can definitely do two terms back to back, so if you wanted to spend both of your gap years you could definitely do so. There are a few members this year who have done just that! You would have to go through the application process again, and there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to the same host site. In the application process, however, you do interview with both the program director and the host site supervisor, so it might help that you already have some kind of rapport, but again, there is no guarantee. You would also be able to apply to one of the other operating sites if you would like to as well.

2) In regards to clinical experience, I would say that most of our member positions can be considered clinical experience but that depends on your host site. Host sites and positions are different depending on the operating site that you are at. My position is at an addiction treatment center where I serve both patients currently in the my host site's detox clinic as well as in my host site's residential treatment program. I teach health education classes and facilitate recreation activities like art or gardening for the patients, but I also spend my time meeting with patients one-on-one. But again your tasks really do vary depending on your host site. Some members are at host sites that are large clinics or hospitals such as Sulzbacher, UF Health, St. Vincent's Medical Center, and more so there are definitely positions that may be able to offer you more clinical experience than others. That being said, all of our positions are health related whether it be health education, community health outreach, enrolling patients in prescription assistance programs, case management, discussing medical eligibility, screening, etc.

I'm sure you've probably already been on the website, but just in case you haven't, it has a lot of details on the different positions that each operating site has. Here is the link: National Health Corps I am not sure which location you are interested in applying to, so I just linked the general website! Most of the position descriptions are pretty comprehensive, so I would take a look through those to get an idea of what the positions might look like to see if they would fit into your goals of getting more clinical experience. When I applied, I was afraid that the description would kind of exaggerate the tasks and I would not be doing all the tasks listed for my position, but I've honestly not found that to be a problem because both the program director and host site supervisor (at least in my experience) kind of go off of that description to assign tasks, etc. I also know that the descriptions are updated pretty frequently so that they match up with the actual experience. That is definitely a solid resource to go through! I think that if you are looking for a way to serve the community and get some clinical experience, National Health Corps is a really good option. Just make sure to read through the position descriptions so that you can apply to one that suits your goals because each members' tasks really do depend on the host site.

I also wanted to add that besides service at your host site, there is also a ton of outside service opportunities available, and you can cater those to your goals. If you are looking for clinical experience, it is totally doable to do service at your host site, then volunteer at different places (specifically in Florida, at least) such as Mayo Clinic, a free clinic for the uninsured, UF Health, the Salvation Army homeless shelter, and several other places. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the specific commitments of National Health Corps, but there is a 1,700 hour commitment for the 10.5 months, and these outside service opportunities could count towards that as well! It is really a program that promotes professional development and allows you to volunteer or even shadow as part of the program commitments, which is really awesome. I will be honest, however, that COVID-19 has really thrown a wrench in my plans to volunteer at many clinics around the area, but I have still been able to find and take advantage of a lot of different opportunities around the area. And I'm sure this is true for the other locations as well.

Sorry, I know that was a lot, but hopefully you found that helpful in any way! If you or really anyone has any more questions or wants any more details about the program, please feel free to PM me or reply! I'm happy to help :)
 
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Jan 5, 2021
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If you need clinical experience, that should factor into your decision to apply to/accept a given assignment. If you won't know where you'll be and what you'll be doing until after you commit to the program, I'd think that is too risky given your goals for the year.
Thank you for your response! I recalculated and will likely have 200+ hours of clinical volunteering experience by the time I graduate. It’s less about the hours that I need and more about how I want my clinical experience to be more varied. All my clinical experience will be volunteering in a pediatric hospital, albeit in different departments.

I reached out to NHC and they said, “Our service positions are not clinical- they are primarily health education, care coordination and patient navigation; as a direct service program, patient interaction is a key focus of all of our positions.”

From what it looks like on their website and from the NHC members I’ve spoken to, it seems like while they work in a center that has health professionals, they have patient interactions but usually don’t work in the same room with the physicians. Would this be enough to count as clinical experience or is this more service oriented? Like I said, I’m not too worried about the hours, but I don’t want to commit to something risky as you said.

Thank you and thanks to everyone for your help!
 
Jul 24, 2020
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Thank you for your response! I recalculated and will likely have 200+ hours of clinical volunteering experience by the time I graduate. It’s less about the hours that I need and more about how I want my clinical experience to be more varied. All my clinical experience will be volunteering in a pediatric hospital, albeit in different departments.

I reached out to NHC and they said, “Our service positions are not clinical- they are primarily health education, care coordination and patient navigation; as a direct service program, patient interaction is a key focus of all of our positions.”

From what it looks like on their website and from the NHC members I’ve spoken to, it seems like while they work in a center that has health professionals, they have patient interactions but usually don’t work in the same room with the physicians. Would this be enough to count as clinical experience or is this more service oriented? Like I said, I’m not too worried about the hours, but I don’t want to commit to something risky as you said.

Thank you and thanks to everyone for your help!
Clinical Experience doesn't mean you have to work with a doctor. From their description of "patient interaction is a key focus.." it seems like what an adcom would define as "clinical."
 
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LizzyM

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It depends on what you are doing and if the people you are doing it with are "patients". If you are doing community outreach and working with adults (and/or kids) around health education topics in a community center, you aren't working with people who are "patients" at the time you are working with them. If you were staffing a clinical facility and talking with people who were there to be tested/treated, then they are patients and you are doing clinical work, even if your job is to locate other community resources that could help them (health insurance, SNAP benefits, etc).

In part it depends on whether adcoms take a soft or hard approach to what they consider "clinical". As long as you have had some work in a hospital setting, you should be fine to augment that with any other health-related service program.
 
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