DrewFromVA

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Hello everyone... I've been helped tremendously by this site in the past and I hope you all can help me again... Recently I stopped volunteering at the ER here in downtown Norfolk because 90% of my time was spent sitting at the front desk doing nothing at all. I volunteered there for a little over three months, 4 hours a week, and I did get to see some interesting things, but I felt my time could be put to better use. Well since I quit I've had a hard time thinking of somewhere else I can get "clinical experience." I do not have any training to do much of anything in the medical field (such as EMT classes) and I seem to be caught in a catch-22, so to speak... I can't get a position where I can really get clinical experience without already having experience! How does one get around this? I guess I could volunteer at a homeless shelter, a food bank, or somewhere like that, and at those places I'd probably be kept busy, but I want to volunteer in a medically related way. Well, that is my dillema, and if anyone can help me with suggestions or ideas I would be, and am, very gratefull! Thanks!
 

Sweet Tea

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Hey Drew!

Um, what's preventing you from taking the EMT (CNA, phlebotomy, whatever) classes? That would seem like the answer to your problems-- you don't need any experience to take the class!

If you can't take the class, then I would suggest getting experience in a shelter or nursing home. Granted, you won't be dispensing the medical care, but you will be around lots and lots of chronically ill people, and you will be kept WAY more busy and be more meaningful than your ER position.

Just my $.02!! :)
 

tBw

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If you want more clinical exposure the best way to do it is to shadow a doctor. Not only will you see in intimate detail the clinical encounter, but if you develop a reasonable working relationship with the doctor this can often be a way into actually participating yourself. The best places to do this kind of thing, and the most likely to end in you actually participating is at VA hospitals.
 
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relatively prime

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It seems like everyone wants to volunteer in the ERs these days.... but why? From what I hear ERs are notorious for not using their volunteers.

Volunteering at a hospital is a GREAT way to get clinical experience... but you got to get yourself into the right department. What you do is this: volunteer in a department that doesn't often get volunteers... like geriatrics (sp?), in-patient pysch, pathology, stuff like that.

I volunteered at a rehabilitation clinic. That was great, I was never bored. Now I volunteer in an in-patient psych department... and it's been one of the best experiences of my life. When I'm there, I'm the only volunteer. THey don't see many volunteers so the staff pays special attention to me. Each day they let me do more and more... I learn a lot!

Good luck! and have fun :)
 

oldman

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I have worked two different hospital jobs going in with zero training!

1. Rehab Tech. I helped transport patients from rooms to the physical therapy gym. Then I would help with their exercises while the PT (physical therapist) worked with another patient. I also helped with wound care. I prepared tools, whirlpool, and helped with pulsed lavage.

2. Phlebotomist. I draw blood from patients and interact with all kinds. I draw ICU, MED/SURG, PEDS, Nursery, ED, etc. I trained on nursing home patients for one week before going off on my own.

I was only required to have a GED/High School Diploma for both jobs, but got lots of clinical experience!!!
 

oldman

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Oh and I get paid to get my experience!! No more volunteer work for me. :) Besides my parents wanted me to earn my keep.

Another good thing about working vs. volunteering is you get more responsibility
 

Doctora Foxy

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I recommend volunteering in any free clinic you can find. They let me do patient intake, take blood pressure, and the best of all was translating (but I had to learn how to do that first)....you get both the patient's and doctor's prespectives that way, and you get to learn and do so much!
 

Dr. MAXY

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Like others have mentioned, try taking EMT, CNA etc classes. Also try some free clinic as well as the red cross and local blood banks.
GOOD LUCK
 

SilverAngel1110

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To reiterate what's already been said...

1. The amount of clinical experience you get depends upon which department of the hospital you volunteer in. I volunteered in the dietary department of the hospital near my house, and they had me going around to patients' rooms and helping them choose their meals and such. This was really great because I actually got to sit there and talk to the patients regularly. And helping them with even the simplest tasks really taught me a lot about the attention to detail required of healthcare professionals.

2. Shadowing a physician is an exellent way to learn a lot, and (at least for me) it's kind of stress-free learning. Once a week I take a break from my research job and follow one of the attendings around in oncology. It's a really nice break from the monotony of sitting at the lab bench all day, and it's not like there are any tests to take or lab reports to write or anything. I just learn by watching and listening. And the really amazing thing is that the patients themselves are really eager to teach me about their conditions. After the doctor introduces me and talks to them, they usually end up talking to me about what they're going through, etc etc.

So, to make a long story short, there a lot of things you can do to get clinical exposure without any experience, because I certainly had none. You just have to know where to look, who to talk to, and sometimes, how to worm your way through the beurocracy. ;)
 

The Mysterious Stranger

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I work as a CA (nurse's asst.) in a Children's Hospital which provides very intimate interaction with patients as well as exposure to the scientific aspect of the med field (main duties include taking vital signs, transcribing doctors orders, comforting patients, ordering labwork...). The only prior experience I had was volunteer work in a hospital at the front desk. Most of the other CA's I work with didn't have experience either.

Here's the trick:
The hospital does hiring in groups--b/c of the scheduling and hours involved in orientation, management does not waste time hiring one CA if one CA quits. In fact, I was hired with 8 other CA's. The trick is applying when there will be a need for employees. This is usually at the start of the school year since most of the CA's are in college and will either cut down their hours or quit working. You might want to apply through your human resources office (at the end of summer) at the hospital you volunteer at--maybe your volunteer coordinator could write a letter of rec or put in a good word for ya. I hope this helps.
 

Pinki

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Here's how I got an AWESOME clinical experience in a clinic...
Call your county health department, they usually have low-cost/free clinics.

I got a volunteer job working in the STD clinic, and immediately was doing patient histories (which were quite interesting, and taught me TONS about talking sensitively and openly with patients from all walks of like about their most personal health and sexual issues), vitals and assisted the NPs and PAs and MDs with exams. It also makes for colorful cocktail party banter, to tell people I work at the STD Clinic...you'd be suprised!

Super experience because EVERY premed I know does ER, big deal! Public health work puts you right in the middle of indigent, interesting and integral health care!

Good Luck!
 

angelic02

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Does anybody know the top specialties in which people volunteer? I will be going to undergrad school in a city with a general hospital, a psych clinic, a wound care center, and several other places owned by the same group. Any suggestions of where I should start?
 

angelic02

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By the way, I don't have time for EMT, CNA, or phlebotomy classes b/c I will be taking a full course load.
 
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