Germanblossom

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Sep 21, 2015
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So I am getting closer to finishing up my degree and having to get prepared to take the MCAT and then start applications. But something that is giving me an incredible amount of anxiety is volunteer experience. I am sure some people think its ridiculous that I'd have none but I literally do not have time. I have been working since I was 16. And of course I actually had two jobs and still went to school full time. Once I graduated its been the same ever since. I take 5-6 college courses each semester and I have two full time jobs. I barely have time to do homework and I sleep maybe 5-6 hours a night (depending on my course work sometimes less). I work every single day and sometimes get a Wednesday (rare) off, I even work in between classes. I truly cant afford to not work due to family obligations (I help support my mother by helping to pay her mortgage and other bills, groceries ect.) . So its simple if I don't work and pay she loses the house and my sisters and mother suffer.

So my question is, how important is volunteer experience on an application? Am I going to be denied/less of an applicant because of my lack of experience?
 

NotASerialKiller

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I really hope there's a way to justify this that would be satisfactory to adcoms. Very good reason for not being able to get any done during the year. Do you also have no time to squeeze anything in during the summer?

I know in Canada they're much more concerned with hours that you put in on top of school for this very reason. But I guess that's why everyone always says we're the greatest country in the world.
 

GiveMeThatMD

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What job do you currently hold? There must be some way to twist it in your favor. If absolutely nothing can be done, I'd advise approaching your school's admissions office for a possible letter stating the above. It may not excuse it entirely, but it couldn't hurt.
 

Ismet

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The fact that you work 2 jobs and provide your family (you have dependents) should justify a lack of volunteering. You will discuss this in your application. If you can somehow work volunteering in, even a few hours each month, that would be great, but it sounds like your plate is overflowing now.

What's more important is clinical exposure. Be sure you have that.
 

Shirafune

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Can you afford to take a few gap years to fit in your clinical exposure? As mentioned above, you have a good explanation for your time allocation. Could you change one of your jobs to a clinically related one, such as a medical scribe? As you transition out of school, you may be able to find volunteering positions that fit around your work schedule. Keep in mind that volunteering is not necessary, though often times highly (might as well be required) recommended for those much more fortunate than you.

Your experiences will not only make you a more mature and stronger individual, but also a compelling applicant. Stay strong.
 

ZedsDed

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So I am getting closer to finishing up my degree and having to get prepared to take the MCAT and then start applications. But something that is giving me an incredible amount of anxiety is volunteer experience. I am sure some people think its ridiculous that I'd have none but I literally do not have time. I have been working since I was 16. And of course I actually had two jobs and still went to school full time. Once I graduated its been the same ever since. I take 5-6 college courses each semester and I have two full time jobs. I barely have time to do homework and I sleep maybe 5-6 hours a night (depending on my course work sometimes less). I work every single day and sometimes get a Wednesday (rare) off, I even work in between classes. I truly cant afford to not work due to family obligations (I help support my mother by helping to pay her mortgage and other bills, groceries ect.) . So its simple if I don't work and pay she loses the house and my sisters and mother suffer.

So my question is, how important is volunteer experience on an application? Am I going to be denied/less of an applicant because of my lack of experience?
A gap year of clinical experience and volunteering would do wonders for you.
 

Turkishking

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Jul 15, 2015
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So I am getting closer to finishing up my degree and having to get prepared to take the MCAT and then start applications. But something that is giving me an incredible amount of anxiety is volunteer experience. I am sure some people think its ridiculous that I'd have none but I literally do not have time. I have been working since I was 16. And of course I actually had two jobs and still went to school full time. Once I graduated its been the same ever since. I take 5-6 college courses each semester and I have two full time jobs. I barely have time to do homework and I sleep maybe 5-6 hours a night (depending on my course work sometimes less). I work every single day and sometimes get a Wednesday (rare) off, I even work in between classes. I truly cant afford to not work due to family obligations (I help support my mother by helping to pay her mortgage and other bills, groceries ect.) . So its simple if I don't work and pay she loses the house and my sisters and mother suffer.

So my question is, how important is volunteer experience on an application? Am I going to be denied/less of an applicant because of my lack of experience?
That's why medical schools add in volunteer, and shadowing etc.. to see how you are with time management, and with grades.. I think so at least.
 

DocMcMommy

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I'm not an adcom or a med student, I'm still just a lowly premed. However, reading your story my first thought was: if you HAVE to work so hard and you cannot possibly stop because of your obligations to your family, will you be able to devote enough time to and handle the rigor of medical school?

So, that is something I think they could possibly be concerned by? I've read many people say that even just a part time job is almost too much to handle. And I don't know the nitty gritty details of loans, but They might not cover all of your needs.
 
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Lawper

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I'm not an adcom or a med student, I'm still just a lowly premed. However, reading your story my first thought was: if you HAVE to work so hard and you cannot possibly stop because of your obligations to your family, will you be able to devote enough time to and handle the rigor of medical school?

So, that is something I think they could possibly be concerned by? I've read many people say that even just a part time job is almost too much to handle. And I don't know the nitty gritty details of loans, but They might not cover all of your needs.
The situation and circumstances surrounding OP now are drastically different from those OP will face in medical school. Yes, medical school is rigorous and adcoms don't advise people to work, but it isn't that schools will throw OP and others into an ocean filled with sharks. There is a support system and OP can finance her way through loans and financial aid.

For now however, OP should focus on her jobs and volunteering only an hour per week is sufficient
 
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LizzyM

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The situation and circumstances surrounding OP now are drastically different from those OP will face in medical school. Yes, medical school is rigorous and adcoms don't advise people to work, but it isn't that schools will throw OP and others into an ocean filled with sharks. There is a support system and OP can finance her way through loans and financial aid.

For now however, OP should focus on her jobs and volunteering only an hour per week is sufficient
OP can not pay her mother's mortgage with school loans.... what is the plan in that regard going forward? If there is going to be stress and drama during the med school years over family finances, we have a serious cause for concern.

That said, the OP should look for some episodic activities that might work on a weekly basis (1 hr wk) or a half day each month as a demonstration of a willingness to be of service to those in need and to become more aware of the life circumstances of those in need. (Don't discount having some experience in that regard before starting medical school as those people will be your patients or the parents, grandparents, or children of your patients.)
 

Goro

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No clinical volunteering = no acceptances. Non-clinical, I think Adcoms will cut you some slack. But for clinical experience, here's the deal: You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into and that you really want to be around sick people for the next 40 years.

Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.


What are you going to say when asked how you know you are suited for a life of caring for the sick and suffering? “That you just know”? Imagine how that will go over!

I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

I applaud you for supporting you family OP, but once you start medical school, that has to end. You have to be selfish, otherwise your academics will get destroyed.

You may have to wait until your sisters can support your mom, and then apply.


So I am getting closer to finishing up my degree and having to get prepared to take the MCAT and then start applications. But something that is giving me an incredible amount of anxiety is volunteer experience. I am sure some people think its ridiculous that I'd have none but I literally do not have time. I have been working since I was 16. And of course I actually had two jobs and still went to school full time. Once I graduated its been the same ever since. I take 5-6 college courses each semester and I have two full time jobs. I barely have time to do homework and I sleep maybe 5-6 hours a night (depending on my course work sometimes less). I work every single day and sometimes get a Wednesday (rare) off, I even work in between classes. I truly cant afford to not work due to family obligations (I help support my mother by helping to pay her mortgage and other bills, groceries ect.) . So its simple if I don't work and pay she loses the house and my sisters and mother suffer.

So my question is, how important is volunteer experience on an application? Am I going to be denied/less of an applicant because of my lack of experience?
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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What I've seen with my adcom is somewhat different. Clinical experience is required but it can be PAID experience. Some adcom members are very vocal about looking for experiences in non-clinical volunteerism because it isn't a "two-fer", it is pure service unrelated to clinical interests.
That said, something like Ronald McDonald House is non-clinical because the role of volunteers there is hospitality to the families of sick children in a non-clinical setting (no clinical care is delivered in the house unlike a hospital).
 
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Germanblossom

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Sep 21, 2015
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I appreciate everyone's advice. I understand that I cant continue to pay my mothers bills and ect. Its not that she's not trying, she just doesn't make enough. I definitely plan to cut the umbilical chord and move away. I don't plan on financially supporting my mother and sisters forever. I just have no choice right now and perhaps you don't understand that but sometimes you have to do things that aren't so great. I WANT to volunteer. And summer isn't an option either, I still go to school. I am trying to find work in a hospital, so hopefully that works out. I again and again appreciate the advice.
 
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Goro

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Med schools aren't going anywhere, and, in fact, there will be more of them by the time you're ready to apply.

Good luck!
 

moisne

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I don't know your and your mother situation - so I hope this doesn't come across as harsh.

If she cannot pay for her mortage - she needs to relocate to a cheaper house. Short sell her current house - use that money to buy a small apartment in a cheaper neighborhood.

If she truly "cannot afford" living, I'm sure there are some financial aid. I know in some states that having less than 2k of money on hand will qualify you for food aid (it's not much but if she plans, it can satisfy basic needs).
If your sister is a minor still, your mother (assuming is actually poor) should be able to get financial aid (I've heard as high as 1k per minor/month).

Again, I do not know all the details but from your end, you need to do two things:
1. get some kind of medical/clinical/research experience. Some research assistants can be paid.
2. You need to cut down your hours of work and find a work that will pay you a bit more. If you are really good at something, you can tutor and charge upward 25$ per hour. If you get outstanding reviews you can increase your rate up even more. During undergrad, I was balancing between 4 (all part time - each were like 3-4 hours a week) jobs and the most stressful part was keeping track and planning my time but I eventually traded those in for tutoring chemistry and made more with less hours.

Another you can consider is online tutoring - it's much more flexible and you can do it while studying.
 
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