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So I found volunteer work at a hospital...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Arc, May 6, 2007.

  1. Arc

    Arc 2+ Year Member

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    ...But the tasks that I do are boring as hell. Pharmacy is nice to do volunteer work at, but sub-acute/permant resident halls are boring jsut becuase one cant really interact with most of the patients there. I'm tempted to just cut back on the hours there and see if I can get something going at a hospice. Any suggestions as to what deparments I can ask to volunteer at to get some better tasks?
     
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  3. Tired

    Tired Fading away 7+ Year Member

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    Well what kind of tasks are you looking for? Frankly, I doubt you will find much of anything you can do as a volunteer very interesting. I suppose you can take patients their newspaper in the morning and have a chance to talk to them, or you could volunteer in the playroom for pediatrics. But if you're looking to do anything "medical" you can probably forget about it.

    Did you go through the volunteer coordinator at your hospital to get this gig? Probably your best bet is to go back to them and discuss what kinds of things you'd like to be doing.
     
  4. Johnny_one_eye

    Johnny_one_eye Phleboptimist 2+ Year Member

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    Agreed with the above poster. At our hospital, sometimes volunteering in the Emergency Dept gives you some better experiences than other floors since you get to see some pretty cool stuff sometimes and sometimes people are more willing to let you help. But let's face it, unless you've got some real training under your belt, they're probably not going to let you help with anything too cool.
     
  5. Vano

    Vano 7+ Year Member

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    Without any particular training you won't get to do anything nearing 'cool' status. If you have an emergency dept. ask them to transfer you there, at least there without even doing anything cool you will have a chance to observe something more exciting once in a while.
     
  6. greg1184

    greg1184 10+ Year Member

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    I volunteer on the burn unit/trauma floor of Ryder Trauma center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The key is that you have to search for residents, interns, doctors on the floor you are on. I often find residents teaching 3rd years or 4 years. Residents/Interns are very helpful and tell you about the patients they are seeing. Sometimes they even took me to the Resuscitation floor to see what is going on there. A great example of something I saw was a resident teaching medical students how to remove a chest tube. I also have a helpful nurse tell me when a dressing change of burn patients are happening and when doctors are doing procedures like the one i mentioned. It sure beats changing bedsheets or giving water. You can get out of your volunteer experience anything you want, you have to find it.
     
  7. tkatchev

    tkatchev 2+ Year Member

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    I volunteered in the ER of a really busy county hospital and it was an awesome experience. I didn't have any kind of medical training but when I got to know some of the residents they let me help with some things not only approaching cool but pretty much surpassing it. I got to staple a guys head laceration, I held a guys leg while the orthopedic attending inserted an enormous pin all the way through it, I "cut" while the resident sutured stuff, I irrigated a compound elbow fracture and got to feel around inside, I held a really large ladies breast out of the way while they inserted a chest tube (not glamorous, but I got to watch up close as they put the chest tube in).

    Now I shadow a surgeon at a children's hospital and I've gotten to scrub in and help during surgery a couple of times, which was pretty damn exciting. But I think that was only for the fact that I was starting medical school in a few months and so they kinda figured I was already pretty much a student doctor.

    The moral of the story, if you get to know the right people, they're often very willing and happy to let you "play doctor" for a while and most of them like it when people are interested in them and their work.
     
  8. Anastasis

    Anastasis caffeinated for safety Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Find a free clinic. Seriously - my experiences were amazing and I already know the basics of how to take a patient history and vitals. Plus the doctors usually will let you follow them around. Plus if you get one that likes to teach, you can learn some really cool things. I learned about heart murmurs and reading EKGs (not that I understood most of it without the background knowledge but it was still pretty interesting).
     
  9. msundi83

    msundi83 Chilled Out Entertainer 5+ Year Member

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    in all my meetings with volunteers at my hospital, i find that they don't get anywhere near the experience they want. they just end up stocking shelves and doing stupid stuff like that with virtually no patient interaction. real experience comes from being a tech or some sort. A nursing assistant or EMT maybe.
     
  10. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    You're at the bottom of the totem pole as a volunteer in a hospital. As a result, it's tough to get an assignment doing glamorous stuff. Your best bet is to quit and find a free clinic or go to a children's hospital.
     
  11. Sucks to be you......and your situation reminds me why I'm glad I actually have useful skills in a healthcare setting. :laugh:
     
  12. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Attending Physician 10+ Year Member

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    The point of volunteering at a hospital is to get some exposure to what it's like to be in a hospital, and to give back to your community by helping others. It is not designed to be a pre-meds ticket to free shadowing or the ability to work as a tech. If you want to shadow, call up a doctor and get the clinical exposure you are looking for. If you want to help out a department in the hospital, by stocking, transporting patients, cleaning up stuff, etc. then volunteer. If you happen to get to know some doctors and nurses that let you see/do stuff, then great! But don't bitch about it because you are there to serve, not be served. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Dayfed

    Dayfed 2+ Year Member

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    If you want to be more one-on-one, become a CNA at a hospital. It's not for everyone, but will definitely show you if you like helping patients.

    What I'm planning on doing is keeping my CNA job, and for volunteering, be a part of Habitat For Humanity, or maybe a free clinic. I want to do something for volunteering, I want to help those in need, not just follow a doctor, because I could just call them up and shadow instead.

    Oh, the great thing about being a CNA is that it's an actual real job. You get paid better than flipping burgers and it's more worthwhile, in my eyes. Also, if you're around long enough, you'll definitely meet patients that will change your life, trust me.
     
  14. drlisa0318

    drlisa0318 Member 7+ Year Member

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    Two summers ago I told the volunteer coordinator that I wanted as much patient contact as possible...preferably in the ED, which is where I happily am volunteering. No one has ever asked me to do any clerical work, though most volunteers seem to do just that. In fact, I never ASKED if I could do what I do...I just DO it. I go from patient to patient to see what I can do for them. Sometimes it's mundane things like getting pillows/blankets or food/drink (if they're allowed). Sometimes I relay questions from the patient/family to the doctor or nurse, since it's easier for me to track them down. Quite often they just want someone to talk to. I pay particular attention to patients who are alone, those who are elderly, or are very young. We have a supply of stuffed toys for the little ones. None of the doctors or nurses have ever asked me to leave when they come in. Patients have sometimes ASKED that I stay with them. This year I DID ask the charge nurse if it would be possible for me to watch procedures (I watched an ortho set a 9-year-old girl's broken arm [radius and ulna both] just last week) and traumas. Since this is the busiest ED in Oklahoma and much of the surrounding area, I'm sure I'll get to see a LOT this summer.

    Unless they've told you something is strictly verboten or that you're allowed to do ONLY specific things (like clerical or housekeeping stuff), sometimes it can be better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.
     
  15. drlisa0318

    drlisa0318 Member 7+ Year Member

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    Every time someone bitches about volunteering, in response someone needs to post a direct link to the above post. Thanks LifetimeDoc!!
     
  16. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

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    MDApps:
    Agreed. Free clinics give you awesome experiences and let you really see what the medical field will be like. No one can claim you don't have enough medical experience if you've worked as an MA or something in a free clinic.
     
  17. Eh....OK.....if you say so. :laugh:
     
  18. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

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    MDApps:
    Why did it happen to someone?

    I dunno, I guess I'm going off personal experience but if you've been an MA in a free clinic once a week or so then you've seen the lifestyle, the challenges, the procedures, etc. etc. etc. and if you don't get in then its not because you don't have enough clinical experience.

    I just can't imagine too many adcomms honestly rejecting an applicant who's done that work for "not enough clinical experience." And if they are claiming that then its got to be a form letter.

    But I guess that depends on the free clinic and what you do in it. I guess my point was - its typically more in depth than anything you'll get to do in a hospital or shadowing some doctor and you are much less likely to have problems of "not enough clinical experience."
     
  19. Point taken.....I sometimes have to remember to reset my frame of reference.... :laugh: But then again you won't catch me working in a free clinic in the US....I see enough lice, fleas and dirty people who sponge off of society in the ED thank you.
     
  20. Arc

    Arc 2+ Year Member

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    Wasn't exactly looking to go volunteer at a hospital jst to jot it down on my application. If anything, its becuase I got kinda curious after doing a job shadow with an ER physician. To be honest, if it wasnt for that, I dont even think I would even look into a career in medicine right now.

    Previously I voluntered at a food bank, and there, I always had my hands in doing something, whether it be helping a disabled person put their food in their car, or stocking the shevles for certian foods, and making sure every family's box has the right amount of food for the next two weeks, there was always something to do. I guess I expected too much when I expected to have a handfull of things to do most of the time at the hospital.
     
  21. philios

    philios 2+ Year Member

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    i volunteered first in the ER then on the patient floors. I found both these positions to be extreeeeemely boring and unsatisfying because there was literally NOTHING they would let me do. then i switched into surgery and loved it. I could help out with small things during surgery, and after surgery there was always a lot to do. It was also very interesting to watch the procedures as well.
     
  22. Tired

    Tired Fading away 7+ Year Member

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    If you liked the free clinic, you're going to love the hospitals (not as a volunteer, as a med student/resident). Believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet in terms of "lifestyle, challenges, and procedures" from just a free clinic. :thumbup:
     
  23. Arc

    Arc 2+ Year Member

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    Pharmacy Tech certification comming in 3~6 months. :p
     
  24. Good luck with that! :D
     
  25. msundi83

    msundi83 Chilled Out Entertainer 5+ Year Member

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    Giving back to the community is good yes. The thing at my hospital is...whenever we have a premed kid who wants to volunteer come in to our unit he is given busy work that really doesn't need his assistance anyways and we are actually working to find things for him to do. Its the same in many units as well. Volunteers have to fight for work. I guess the point i'm trying to make is that one should make sure the place their volunteering at actually requires their time and isn't just "allowing" them to volunteer because its someting to put on AMCAS. I'm sure the volunteers i met could have spent their time volunteering in other settings. This is just my experience of course and i don't know what its like at other hospitals. I bet the free clinic idea is a good one.
     
  26. emaj1n

    emaj1n M1 2+ Year Member

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    Take the advice of a current pharmacy tech: it's not worth six, or even 3, months of training. OMG I hate my job. Retail pharmacy is the absolute worst in a highly-populated area.
     
  27. Anastasis

    Anastasis caffeinated for safety Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    :laugh:

    I actually worked in a border free clinic so it felt more like international health in a way. None of them spoke English, but there was nothing wrong with their personal hygiene and since they were illegal they weren't taking anything from our government (except maybe WIC - which I welcome them to have.) They worked hard, gave back (many couldn't pay so they would bring us home-made lunches on our breaks or the men would help with the landscaping around the clinic), and they loved their families. Other than economic factors, I found, even from my white, whitey Irish background, I had a lot in common with the patients.

    But I'll admit my experience with free clinics is different than the experience you'll have in just about any other area of the country.
     
  28. Arc

    Arc 2+ Year Member

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    Acually reading the book, and preparing for the PTCB test, and I may take it in the Sept.~Dec. timeframe.
     
  29. scgroat

    scgroat New Member 5+ Year Member

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    After spending time in ICU, ER recovery, and telemetry, I can say that I was most stimulated in the gift shop. I got to interact with patients, throw around some token advice, and people actually appreciated my help. I can't say that for any of the others. In addition, I got to put hospital volunteer on my application. And, yes, I told my interviewer that I gained the most from my gift shop shifts. If you're truly trying to take something away from your volunteer experience, then you wouldn't volunteer to stuff linens, stock medical equipment, or copy files. It's a hoop, though, and if you are not lucky enough to spend a summer in a third world country deworming orphans (Legally Blonde), chances are you'll be a grunt at a local hospital. Just soak in everything with your eyes and ears, and don't expect to make much of a difference. You can make a difference when you become a doctor.
     

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