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Veterinary volunteer work?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by ManualEvac, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. ManualEvac

    ManualEvac 5+ Year Member

    May 16, 2008
    Sadly, due to cutbacks in hours, I just lost my volunteer spot at a clinic on an indian reservation near my home, and have been looking for place to continue building my resume/application. I enjoy clinical work, but find the type of work I'm able to do as an uncredentialed volunteer (Histories, vitals, urinalysis) has gotten a little mundane in the last year.

    Rather than trying to find something similar, I was thinking of working at an emergency vet clinic. A friend of mine works there and sees EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine: trauma, cancer, auto-immune disease, amputations, exploratory surgeries, as well as some really high-tech interventions that all take place right there. Would it be crazy to try and get some more hands-on experience by working with animals for a while? Less liability, more varied cases, and greater need for volunteers make it more likely that I will be able to get my hands dirty and find out if I really want to go through the rigors of med school. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
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  3. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Assuming your goal is med school, yes this would be crazy. The point of health care volunteering as a premed is to get more exposure to your potential career, see the doctor patient inter-relationship, talk with patients, see what doctors actually do each day. Basically the goal is to make sure you know what you are getting into. Working with animals is not the same. And if you try to spin it as the same you are sure to rub folks the wrong way.

    Sounds like your prior position was exactly the right kind. But you have to bear in mind that if you found that "a little mundane" that should be concerning -- are you sure this is the kind of stuff you want to do as a career? These are the questions you should be asking yourself and using your clinical experience to help answer.
  4. foster033

    foster033 7+ Year Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    I think it sounds like a fabulous idea. Not all your volunteering needs to be in a hospital or clinic. You can learn just as much at a ton of other locations. I think it's easy to draw parallels between this experience and med school. Do something you enjoy and are excited about. You'll have a much better experience. Most schools care more about what you learned from the experience than what the actual experience was. It may not fly for clinical exposure, but you already have that so don't worry.

    Also, it's somewhat ridiculous to suggest b/c you don't enjoy being an uncredentialed volunteer that you should reconsider med school. You're going to school to be a doctor and a lot more responsibility and variation goes along with that than being a volunteer. You don't necessarily have to enjoy volunteering to enjoy being a doctor, they're completely different things.
  5. ManualEvac

    ManualEvac 5+ Year Member

    May 16, 2008
    Thanks for the input! I can see both a benefit to volunteering in a vet setting and a danger to presenting it as parallel to work with humans. As far as relating to patients, I will have been a professional therapist for 10 years once I finally am able to apply for med school, so bedside manner is not a concern. My hope in trying this different avenue for a bit is to get more exposure to the heavy duty med/surg stuff very few get to do as volunteers unless they are able to scrub up in an OR somewhere. i volunteered in an ER a while back, and was able to do little more than mop up afterwards and restock supplies.

    I would ultimately like to be a rural family doc, and I want to be able to handle some basic surgical procedures as well as the usual materia medica and tests available to FPs. My vet tech friend tells me she does a lot of assisting on all sorts of procedures. Sounds like good preparation for me, as long as I don't get my species mixed up down the road:eek:.
  6. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013 7+ Year Member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Getting a vet volunteer position may not be quite as easy as it sounds. There are still liability issues that prevent many places from even considering volunteers. And for those that do, they might be a bit biased towards the pre-vet students than a pre-med.

    I work in 24 hour emergency clinic and honestly there isnt a ton of variety in our cases. And those "high-tech interventions" are rarely used. The more "interesting" the case, the more expensive it usually is to treat, and as such is more likely to be put to sleep instead of treated.

    If the vets are cool and dont just stick you in back cleaning kennels you will definitely get more hands on experience.
  7. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    Just when I thought I'd seen every possible question that could be asked on SDN.... :laugh:

    OP, if you already have significant clinical experience with humans, and you want to do some animal volunteering too, go for it. You can never do too much volunteering of any type; just understand that this is probably not going to count as "patient experience" for a premed. If the vet clinic doesn't work out, consider the Humane Society. It's a good cause, and they always are desperate for volunteers. :)
  8. nontrdgsbuiucmd

    nontrdgsbuiucmd 2+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2008
    my own little world
    I guess I'm with Q regarding this would be good to pursue, depending on when you're applying to school. Some med schools are specifically looking for RECENT clinical experience, it may be good to also look into some minimal hospital volunteer experience. At my hospital, one can volunteer a 4 hour shift biweekly/semi-monthly, as an additional EC.

    A side note - in NW suburbs of Chicago, there is a vet clinic that ONLY does really advanced stuff. (this is going back 6 years but presumably they or a similar practice are still there). They would only accept referrals on cases that were too tough from other vets. This was where our German Shepard was treated for a neuron disorder of some type that could not be figured out by our local 5-vet practice. The place reminded me more of an OR than a vet clinic, it was not cheap. If you can find a similar place and they accept volunteers, you'd get some very varied/interesting experience.
  9. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills 10+ Year Member

    Mar 31, 2005
    I can really see this going both ways. On the one hand, the work will be a lot more interesting than meet/greet scut, and you will be learning useful things. On the other hand I can see a med school viewing it as a sign of being wishy washy about human medicine, and they'd probably say the added techniques you've learned either don't translate (human hubris) or are irrelevant since you'll be taught them in med school.

    I would (I always say this, I know) call a few of your top schools and get their opinion.

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