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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by premedrose, Jun 20, 2008.
What did you guys get to do when you were volunteering in a clinic (or hospital)?
I was in an ER, and I did: bed making, throwing out paper, moving paper from one place to another, bringing patients magazines, feeding patients, getting patients cabs, translating, bringing visitors to patients, you get the idea,....
I did bed making in the ER too, got stuff for patients, took patients places by wheelchair, watched suturing, bedside procedures, so films and scans (but didn't ask too many questions about them), restocked things, went to the lab and pharmacy. I got to do a little bit of hands on stuff, such as holding peoples limbs during splinting and suturing and I got to ventilate a couple of times
In a different department I also got to observe a few deliveries in the OR.
I guess it really depends on where you volunteer. You have to apply and interview for the program that I participate in, we were also required to do CPR training. I've heard of other volunteers getting to do CPR
I have a slightly different but related question - how important is volunteering to your application? I have not volunteered in a hospital since high school (and briefly shadowing a neurologist back then too - it was ~6-7 years ago); I have pursued my passion in college and grad school, but I feel I know well the tribulations (as well as the benefits) of being a physician - I have had four months of research experience in an HIV lab (which fits well with my interest in global health/policy), but will my lack of recent volunteering block me from getting interviews, or will I just have to work harder in the interviews to show them I know what I'm getting into?
I started out on the floors in the ER and CVICU visiting patients, getting blankets for them, bringing them water, getting a nurse for them when they needed one, etc. After I was there several weeks, I got to know the staff and a nurse practitioner in the CVICU sort of "adopted" me and started teaching me about cardiology. She ended up being a great teacher to me. She gave me patient charts and made me figure out what the patient's problem was, she taught me about different drugs, she taught me how to read x-rays, and she sat down with me and just spent time teaching me. I also went on rounds with her. Another nice thing was that through her I had access to the cardiac surgeons. I was able to watch a coronary bypass surgery and go on rounds with the surgeons. It was really an incredible experience. Unfortunately, I'm not going to that hospital anymore because I'm working full time and I live much further south now.
I watched the clerk answer phones. I think they let me give patients blankets and ice once or twice. Basically it was the worst 4 hours a week of my life. The nurses were annoyed that i was there, the clerk was an idiot. I switched to the children's hospital and worked in the playroom. It was awesome, got to play uno and other games with kids. We also did karaoke and crafts.
I volunteered at a clinic during the semester. I got to do boring things and fun things. Boring things include bringing patients into the waiting area, weighing them, bringing them to their rooms, making phone calls to pharmacies and hospitals, finding patient records and files.
But I also got to do fun things because the clinic is extremely busy and I'm an EMT. They let me take patient histories and vitals and stuff, and sometimes I had to use my limited Spanish to try and speak to Spanish-speaking patients because the Spanish-speaking nurse(s) were busy.
Do you have any recent research experience? If not, that could be a problem.
To the OP. I worked in a free clinic where I was a medical assistant. I did patient intake, vitals, assisted doctors, chaperoned for male doctors doing pelvics, did in-house labs, etc. It was an awesome experience.
The trick is to volunteer at a small hospital that could use the help rather than a big hospital that's doing you a "favor" by "letting" you make charts.
At the smaller hospitals, they like to teach you to do things like take vitals so you can help out the nurses. They're short on staff so if you can chaperone a pelvic or two, they're appreciative. They even let me bandage patients, remove bandages, and chaperone psych patients awaiting transfer.
If you guys are looking for a volunteer thing, you might want to consider doing EMT work as an aid. After about 3 or 4 weeks, they might pay for you to take lessons to become an EMT B.
As an EMT B you can say "Yup I was in a former health care provider" - even though as an EMTB the most I could do was never very much. Nevertheless, you definantly had patients under your care - even though it might have only been half an hour, you still took vitals and did a patient chart and signed your name at the bottom of the paper. Even though you could never do a lot, as an EMT B, you could actually do something simple like a nasal tube or bag valve masking someone....
... Or trying to get a 200 pound patient out of a 3 story house from their bathroom...(work with your crew so that you will not hurt your backs in the process.)