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U.S. Peace Corps

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by mpp, Feb 8, 2001.

  1. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Are there any pre-med RPCV's out there? I'm curious to hear stories from returned volunteers and how their experiences fit into the whole medical school thing. I'm a returned volunteer but didn't "discover" medicine as a possible career choice until recently.

    Peace Corps 40th Anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. To do my part in promoting this institution I'd like to try to use this thread to recruit any Peace Corps curious pre-meds out there who feel they might want a break between their undergraduate education and medical school. So, if anybody is Peace Corps curious out there, feel free to post your opinions/comments/questions.
     
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  3. Stephen Ewen

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    In my 20s, I went with not the Peace Corps, but a U.N. authorized non-government organaization abroad for a ~year.

    All I will say for now is DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

     
  4. Cordoba

    Cordoba Junior Member

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    Hi MMP,

    My brother is an RPVC who taught English in Guinea, West Africa for 2 years. He has always been very supportive of my medical aspirations and firmly believes that the Peace Corps will help me in every way possible to become a doctor. I don't really need to be sold on the idea of volunteering,(I'm as good as gone after college)but I was wondering if you could provide any insight on how you were prepared for the field of medicine during your service time. Anything that you have to say would be greatly appreciated.Thanks.

    --AW
     
  5. Cordoba

    Cordoba Junior Member

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    Sorry, I meant RPCV. (Claro)
     
  6. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    My Peace Corps service had nothing to do with the medical field at all.
    And before I went into the Peace Corps I had no intentions of going into medicine. I had always thought I wasn't smart enough for medicine nor did I have the people skills required to have a good patient/doctor interaction. I was planning to be a PhD physiscist and professor somewhere. But two years in Africa changed all that. I knew I had to do something where I could help people out and at the same time be challenged on a daily basis.


    What I learned in my 27 months in Zimbabwe was that I enjoyed working one-on-one with people. I liked helping people out. It was a great feeling to have some skills (in this case being university educated) and be able to share that with others.

    I also realized the tremendous opportunities I have in the U.S. that 90% of the world's population just don't have. I taught math and science in a rural secondary school in Zimbabwe. The dream job for most of my students (if they could ever possibly get that far in school and then be lucky enough to land a job) was, sadly, to become a bus driver. And I don't mean to say it was totally hopeless for all of them. In fact right now one of my students is in A-Level studies, equivalent to a junior college in the U.S. This is really big time stuff for rural kids and it brings me great joy to think that I somehow made the little bit of difference necessary for him to get this opportunity.

    I can not pass up my incredible advantage of being a citizen of the wealthiest country in the world to educate myself as far as I could so that I can turn around and help those that want my help.

    So, I guess what I'm saying (and having a great difficulty getting it down in words right here) is that Peace Corps gave me confidence and desire to achieve one of the highest goals available in education and simultaneously be trained to help other people.

    I sincerely ask that if any of you folks that are just completing their undergrad and have aspiration for helping people, try the Peace Corps. It's only a couple of years. You'll do a world of good, learn a hell of a lot more about yourself than you ever thought possible and still be young when you get back to the states and head off to medical school. You're never too old for Peace Corps either. I'm in my 30's and served with volunteers in their 50's and 60's as well as some just barely 20.

    I hate to say it now, and I don't think I really believed it until after I left Zimbabwe, but the Peace Corps is the toughest job you'll ever love.
     
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  7. red fish

    red fish Junior Member

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    Hello to all RPCVs and future Peace Corps Volunteers considering medical school,
    I was a non-sci undergrad in health policy & admin (B.S. '94) and wasn't sure where I was headed, career-wise, after college. For me, Peace Corps clarified everything. I did work as a health and nutrition educator, and, like mpp (see previos posting), loved the one-on-one work environment. If you're considering an interlude between undergrad and med school, there's nothing eaqual to a Peace Corps experience. Peace Corps offers limitless opportunities:
    1. foreign language proficiency
    2. cross-cultural adaptation skills
    3. volunteer experience, and, most importantly,
    4. a chance to learn about yourself.
    Take time to grow into your skin....I've been extremely successful with my application to med school (at the ripe age of 29). If anything, I think being older and non-traditional worked in my favor. I did have to do a post-bac pre-med prgm upon my return to the US, but that just further convinced me that I am now headed down the right path. Good luck.

    ---"The best things in life aren't things."

     
  8. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    redfish,

    When and where did you serve? What was your assignment?
     
  9. red fish

    red fish Junior Member

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    Hey mpp,

    Ecuador '95-'97

    How about you?
     
  10. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Zimbabwe '97 - '99.

    I was a teacher in Science and Mathematics at a rural secondary school. What was your assignment?
     
  11. red fish

    red fish Junior Member

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    I was a Rural Health and Nutrition Extentionist on a small island off the southern Ecuadorian coast (La Isla Puna). My primary project was working with women and mothers of children under five years old in reproductive health, nutrition, hygiene, and vaccinations. My secondary projects included an excercise program for women with high blood pressure, a latrine building campaign, and teaching sex ed to high school students.
    My experience working with women in reproductive health was what started me thinking about a career as a physician...
    I had to do a post-bac program after the Peace Corps, but now I'm working in women's health again (as a Medical Assistant in a busy OB/GYN practice). It's the perfect job for my 'lag year' -- i.e. given me lots of flexibility to travel around for my interviews -- and, furthermore, confirmed my decision to pursue women's health in medical school. Can't wait 'till August!!

    -- "The best things in life aren't things."
     
  12. hby

    hby New Member

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    hi rpcvs! i recently returned from pc honduras and i'm headed to nyu med this fall! pc was an amazing life-changing experience. although i was premed before pc, the past 2 years really changed my perspective on, well, everything. [​IMG] for those premeds considering pc and rpcvs thinking of med school, i'd be happy to answer any questions. (and yes, pc definitely helps in admissions, i had below average stats and was successful!) good luck to all.
     
  13. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    hby,

    What did you do in Honduras? To where were you successful in gaining acceptance?
     
  14. marlind619

    marlind619 New Member

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    i'm interested in pc for several reasons, two year break between undergrad and med school not the least of them. understand that it is a very selective process, however....what qualifications did those of you who volunteered have? was there any one thing you had on your resume that you think was most influential in your selection?
     
  15. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    For some reason the Peace Corps has this stereotype of being very selective but I don't think this is entirely true. It is true that only about 10% of the people that fill out applications complete their Peace Corps service but the majority decide against it on their own and it is not the Peace Corps' decision.

    It is a full 2-year committment (actually about 27 months once you include all the training time)...there are no trips home so I think a lot of people get kind of freaked out and decide against it. As an example, I boarded an airplane with a group of 38 other volunteers when I left the states. Only 27 completed their service. Some left a couple days after we arrived in country; others after several months.

    The application process is quite long and convoluted and similar to the medical school application -- you have to do a lot of waiting. You wait for the first reply, then complete a medical/background check, then wait for an interview, then wait for selection, then wait until you start service.

    I don't think there was any one thing on my application that got me accepted. The most important thing is that you have some skills that are needed elsewhere. I had been a teacher and so I served as a teacher. My degree is in physics so I taught math and science. I had several volunteer activities but never held a permanent volunteer position. That is to say that most of my activities were one-time things that I had done like science demonstrations at an elementary school or volunteered at the state fair, etc.

    My school GPA was nothing spectacular (3.4). I did have some work experience for some big corporations for about five years.

    All in all if you apply and you are a normal, decent human being with some needed skill (in many countries just having a university degree puts you at a "skill" level above the majority of the population) I'm sure you will at least get an interview. Write a good personal statement. If I remember correctly I had to write several essays on the application.

    Good luck!

    [This message has been edited by mpp (edited April 04, 2001).]
     
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  17. Shaun

    Shaun Junior Member

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    To all those RPCVS above,

    I am interested in knowing if there are any schools out there that would regard very highly the Peace Corps experience on an application. Is there a particular school that has a rather large contingent of RPCVS?

    Shaun
    Morocco 94-97
     
  18. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Shaun,

    I have heard from an admissions committee member (a student) that MCP-Hahnemann looks VERY favorably on Peace Corps types. I am sure that other schools do as well.

    What did you do in Morocco? It's great to see other African RPCV's. What have you done since you returned?
     
  19. Shaun

    Shaun Junior Member

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    mpp,

    Thanks for the reply. I worked with the Moroccan Ministry of Health for 2 years and decided that I wasn't ready to leave so i moved to a large city and taught ESL for my third year.

    Upon return stateside got a job with a Johnson and Johnson owned medical device company. From that experience, decided that the entire business world wasn't for me and now I am knee deep in post-bac world taking nothing but science courses since I had zero to my name whepn I graduated.

    Being an Ohioan, I plan to apply to all the state schools (5) and a handful of private MD and DO schools. I have no idea which ones.

    Are you currently in med school now? What has your experience been with Peace Corps appearing on your application?

    Shaun
     
  20. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    Shaun,

    I am only applying to medical school now. When I returned from the Peace Corps I realized that I wanted a health-related career. Being a bit older (I'll be 31 this year) I first thought that medical school would be too rigorous and time consuming for me. So, I applied to optometry schools. Every interviewer I met was interested in my Peace Corps experience. I got into every school to which I applied.

    I don't think anyone could possibly see it as a bad thing and staying on a 3rd year really shows your comittment to a program. Because your Peace Corps service was health-realted, I'm sure you will stand out.

    I may apply to Ohio State. Although I am not a resident, I have a relative associated with the school who has asked me to apply. Good luck with everything. Let me know how it goes.
     
  21. Skye04

    Skye04 Senior Member

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    First I would like to say that it is REALLY comforting to know there are others out there who are interested in working in the Peace Corps and also pursuing a career in medicine.

    I would like to do the Peace Corps (hopefully in Africa) right after graduation, then take a year off to travel, and then start medical school.

    Medical school is a well-worn path to a fairly narrow and well-defined social class and lifestyle. This concerns me because I wonder if I will be able to relate to people in the profession. I am very interested in doing projects with Doctors without Borders and other organizations after residency.

    mpp and red fish and any others... any thoughts?
     
  22. merlin

    merlin Senior Member

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    This post is quite a coincidence since just last night I was looking at the Peace Corps website. I am applying this year, but have wanted to go into the Peace Corps since high school. Anyway, I think I am coming to the conclusion that I will join the Peace Corps if I am not accepted, which is looking like a good possibility. What do you think about starting medicine in your late twenties. Do you think that it will limit your options in relation to the direction you want to head in medicine (what specialty if any)? Well thanks for starting this post, it was useful to me. Cheers.
     
  23. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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