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Jul 2, 2020
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Hello,

I have been seeking non-clinical volunteering opportunities lately. I have a deep passion for volunteering in some way as just being a peer mentor or being a friend to someone who is lonely perhaps, just because I was so lonely growing up. The population I would be working with would be visually impaired people. I have found an organization that does this. Would this be considered as non-clinical volunteer hours for a med school application, or is it too simple? For me it would be a very important experience I believe to be able to give to others in a way I never received. That's the only reason I'm very fixed on this idea.

The description: "Volunteer visitors are matched with a specific client and provide companionship and assistance with reading, completing paperwork, going on walks, shopping, or other tasks as needed."

However, I am also considering other opportunities:
hospice musician
emergency room volunteer
crisis line advocate
childhood abuse advocate (also close to home)
volunteering to just mentor high schoolers or middle schoolers

Any insight into the best use of my time would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
-absoluteidealist
 

candbgirl

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I think it’s just fine. If you are passionate about it by all means do it. I also like the hospice musician. That’s such a good idea too.
I think emergency volunteering is clinical volunteering. Good luck.
 
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LizzyM

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If you are directly helping people who are not in the role of patient and you are providing something they cannot do for themselves and that they could not afford to pay for, then you've got yourself a good non-clinical volunteer position. If you feel passionate about the cause, you have an excellent position.
 
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ArteryStudyPainting

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No matter what, do it to better you first and foremost.

The rest will come.

Better yourself and the rest will follow.

Don't ever. Check boxes.
 
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Jul 2, 2020
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If you are directly helping people who are not in the role of patient and you are providing something they cannot do for themselves and that they could not afford to pay for, then you've got yourself a good non-clinical volunteer position. If you feel passionate about the cause, you have an excellent position.
Thank you very much for your helpful reply, LizzyM, and I have previously appreciated many of your informative posts. I actually have become interested in volunteering for my local Big-Brothers-Big-Sisters organization, where I would basically be investing time befriending a child who may be lonely and in a poor family environment. I balk at whether this may be considered non-clinical volunteering just because typically people do not pay for friendships; however, I know from personal experience that it is far more valuable than something people could pay for, so I would be very curious and appreciative to hear whether you think this may be a good match for non-clinical experience.
 
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If you are directly helping people who are not in the role of patient and you are providing something they cannot do for themselves and that they could not afford to pay for, then you've got yourself a good non-clinical volunteer position. If you feel passionate about the cause, you have an excellent position.
Because I value your advice greatly, I wanted to take the chance and ask you directly a couple of related questions, if that is not a burden or time-consuming. I have referred to your posts to get an idea of how to prepare for apps ever since I started planning for medicine! 😁

1. I volunteered delivering food trays for a year in grad school without any intent of using that experience for anything. It was great, and will definitely show I care compassionately because I had no intent of medicine at the time. In total, that experience was 20 x 4 = 80 hours. Is it okay if the reference for this event was just a friend of mine who was part of the student leadership team? I contacted the man officially responsible requesting a reference and he never replied.

2. I also volunteered for 6 years caring for an intellectually disabled woman as a respite person who took her to events like special olympics, theatre showings, bowling etc. Should I include these experiences? If so, would it be reasonable to just estimate them at 150 hours or so, since typically I'd spend the day with her and there were at least 20 times I spend the day with her? I stopped in undergrad and literally have no reference person for that experience, unless I put my mom who often supervised my visits with the woman when I was in middle/high school. Both the person I served and the caretaker of that person are deceased. Can I include this experience? If so, who should I put for the reference?

3. I also volunteered as a research assistant for various labs throughout undergrad and grad school -- do these experiences count as nonclinical volunteerism? Or would they just count towards research? I am assuming this could count as volunteering because I was not paid for it and the researchers needed my help for things they couldn't due alone unless they really stretched their limits.

4. I am working remotely as a medical scribe due to covid. Would it be better to work in person in order for this to be classified as clinical experience, or would remote be accepted as clinical paid experience given covid restrictions? Also, because I have all of this clinical paid experience (it will have been like 2000 hours) do I need to volunteer clinically? It is impossible to do traditional clinical volunteering with covid.

I am grateful beyond measure to have the chance to put these questions to you. Thank you taking the time to read this. I would be most appreciative to hear your thoughts! I have edited these replied to ensure quality questions are asked.
 
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LizzyM

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Thank you very much for your helpful reply, LizzyM, and I have previously appreciated many of your informative posts. I actually have become interested in volunteering for my local Big-Brothers-Big-Sisters organization, where I would basically be investing time befriending a child who may be lonely and in a poor family environment. I balk at whether this may be considered non-clinical volunteering just because typically people do not pay for friendships; however, I know from personal experience that it is far more valuable than something people could pay for, so I would be very curious and appreciative to hear whether you think this may be a good match for non-clinical experience.

You are a volunteer. The people you are working with are not patients. Therfore this is non-clinical volunteering. When I say people who could not pay for your services, I mean that it is different to volunteer to, let's say, serve as a volunteer tennis coach to students at a private school in an affluent community vs. being a mentor to a child who comes from a poor community and a poor family environment.
 
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LizzyM

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Because I value your advice greatly, I wanted to take the chance and ask you directly a couple of related questions, if that is not a burden or time-consuming. I have referred to your posts to get an idea of how to prepare for apps ever since I started planning for medicine! 😁

1. I volunteered delivering food trays for a year in grad school without any intent of using that experience for anything. It was great, and will definitely show I care compassionately because I had no intent of medicine at the time. In total, that experience was 20 x 4 = 80 hours. Is it okay if the reference for this event was just a friend of mine who was part of the student leadership team? I contacted the man officially responsible requesting a reference and he never replied.
[/QUOTE]

It is okay to use a member of the student leadership team as a reference for 80 hours of volunteering in a facility.

2. I also volunteered for 6 years caring for an intellectually disabled woman as a respite person who took her to events like special olympics, theatre showings, bowling etc. Should I include these experiences? If so, would it be reasonable to just estimate them at 150 hours or so, since typically I'd spend the day with her and there were at least 20 times I spend the day with her? I stopped in undergrad and literally have no reference person for that experience, unless I put my mom who often supervised my visits with the woman when I was in middle/high school. Both the person I served and the caretaker of that person are deceased. Can I include this experience? If so, who should I put for the reference?
If you did this i middle/high school, most people would tell you not to inclued it in an AMCAS application, particularly if you are an older applicant. You should have 14-15 newer things to list.

3. I also volunteered as a research assistant for various labs throughout undergrad and grad school -- do these experiences count as nonclinical volunteerism? Or would they just count towards research? I am assuming this could count as volunteering because I was not paid for it and the researchers needed my help for things they couldn't due alone unless they really stretched their limits.

No, you 'd be better off tagging these as "research". Each work/activity gets one tag. Some things can be classified in more than one tag such as paid employment/research, volunteer/research, paid employment/teaching etc. The trick is to pick the best tag so that you had a variety of tags and show the breadth of your experiences.
4. I am working remotely as a medical scribe due to covid. Would it be better to work in person in order for this to be classified as clinical experience, or would remote be accepted as clinical paid experience given covid restrictions? Also, because I have all of this clinical paid experience (it will have been like 2000 hours) do I need to volunteer clinically? It is impossible to do traditional clinical volunteering with covid.

I am grateful beyond measure to have the chance to put these questions to you. Thank you taking the time to read this. I would be most appreciative to hear your thoughts! I have edited these replied to ensure quality questions are asked.
Remote medical scribe is clinical experience. It is paid experience. Clinical experience can be paid or unpaid (volunteer). It doesn't matter if clinical experience is paid or unpaid. You need volunteer experience. It can be clinical or non-clinical. Some adcoms prefer to see non-clinical volunteering as it is not a "two-fer" -- you aren't getting credit for both altruism and clinical experience but only for service to those in need.
 
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