Mar 27, 2010
I'm a very busy, very involved second year pre-medical student and simply do not have the time in my schedule to fit in regular volunteer work in a clinical setting - I do generic volunteering with my frat, but that's about it.

However, my first summer in college (last summer) was spent working 30-40 hours per week for 10 weeks with who I gather is a leading orthopaedic surgeon working out of LA. My time was split between working in the office doing patient followup from previous research, shadowing in the clinic, transporting and accompanying new patients, and sorting and filing/ retrieving medical records, though I also spent on average 2 days per week in the OR observing surgeries - scrubbed in and within the sterile field.

Also, this upcoming summer will be spent working one-on-one with a professor in our Biochemistry department stimulating the production of antibacterial and antifungal compounds made by a certain bacteria for agricultural use. And next summer I intend to be involved in more research of perhaps a more medicinal nature.

Oh, and there's a strong chance that I will be accompanying the same surgeon I interned with on a 2 week trip to Vietnam to participate in free hip and knee arthroplasties as part of an annual charity trip that said surgeon makes.

Would these experiences compensate for the lack of regular volunteerism? Or should I cut back on my activities to make room?


the evil queen of numbers
10+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
Academic Administration
One thing that adcoms like to see is good time management. Another is a sense of obligation to serve or "give back" to the community; sometimes this is called altruism. If you are doing a little service here & there with your frat you are dong something (it should be actually be serving the needy and not throwing a party to raise money for a good cause.)

You could break up the experiences you had in the summer into "volunteer, clinical" and "other" (shadowing). I'd call follow-up with research subjects "volunteer, clinical" rather than research if you had little say in the research question, the design of the data collection process, data analysis, etc.
Jul 25, 2009
New York, New York
Medical Student
I wouldn't worry too much about that right now. Concentrate on your grades and your MCAT. Things can quickly get out of hand if you take on too many things. You appear to have great clinical exposure for a second year. Over time, work in an "altruistic" volunteer experience like, for example, hospice voluntering or a medical mission to Central America.

Don't discount the experience you can gain through your fraternity. I held a leadership position in mine and I made the experience a main part of my application. Very few non-Greeks realize how demanding joining/running a fraternity can be for premeds. I talked about it quite a bit during my interviews and I got a very positive response.