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Volunteer Hours: Helpful or Necessary?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Tnguyen87, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. Tnguyen87


    Apr 11, 2007
    Hello, I am a sophomore pre-med student who just started to volunteer at a local hospital. I was wondering how much of my time should I dedicate into this? If I volunteer at a constant rate, by the time I apply for medical school, I would have about a thousand hours of healthcare/clinical experience. Would it be a big plus to my application? Would adcoms be more lenient to the numbers?(GPA/MCAT)
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  3. Robizzle

    Robizzle 1K Member 2+ Year Member

    May 28, 2006
    Boston & NYC
    1) Yes

    2) No, you need the entire package.
  4. IceMan0824

    IceMan0824 Holy crip, he's a crapple 5+ Year Member

    Dec 7, 2006
    Welcome my friend, to the world of the pre-med.
  5. Green Pirate

    Green Pirate Neurotic Neuro Enthusiast 5+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2006
    In the long run, you would probably be better off ditching the volunteer position and shadowing some physicians with all that extra time. A little bit of volunteer work looks good, but you'll probably learn a lot more and have a lot more to talk about at potential interviews if you shadow. I'm probably not going to continue my volunteer post after this semester (~50 hours). It's a real waste of time.
  6. happy snake

    happy snake 2+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2006
    Depending on the extent of your extra-curriculars they will cut you some slack (my experience). That's true so long as your GPA and MCAT are atleast worthy of a preliminary screening (less than a 3.4 and 27 generally makes the odds of a rejection fairly high, depending on the school, MD/DO). I know a couple of friends that got in with just a 3.50 into UIC and Rush because of some very substantial clinical/volunteer/other extra-curricular experiences. Decisions are always made on a case-by-case basis.

    Also, how many hours you volunteer should depend largely on how much you enjoy what you're doing. Shadowing is a different experience. For example, if as a volunteer you provide support to families in the surgery waiting room, your experiences will count substantially and will take you far in regards to maturing you as an appplicant. Through shadowing on the other hand, you can learn much from the physicians about their everyday and you could over time gain a solid letter of recommendation. This will carry even more weight if you work in a physican's clinic and he writes that letter as your employer. No volunteer time is too much. Do it if you like it. If you find yourself forcing yourself to do it, then try volunteering elsewhere. Hours matter, yes. But they care more about what the experience did for you than anything else. If you volunteered for 500 hours but you failed to articulate what that meant to you, then it's as good as not having done it at all.

  7. Vano

    Vano 7+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Volunteer however much you want. If you like it then volunteer, if you don't then you should probably consider again whether you want to be a doctor or not.
  8. Tnguyen87


    Apr 11, 2007
    Well, since I am not licensed in anything, I am not allowed to mess with the needles and such but I do shadow nurses around for check-ups, and spectate simple procedures. I am assigned to the MED/SURG department so interacting with patient is a must, so that area is covered. About shadowing physicians, I don't really get a chance to see a lot of them. Even though I can't mess around with syringes and needles, the nurses allowed me to get vitals and temperature from patients. Instead of just volunteering in the summer like other students, I am planning to volunteer year round to make it part of my everyday life. Yes, I really enjoy the hospital environment. I would stay overtime to watch, learn, and help out. Hopefully adcoms can see my dedication. So do they look at the numbers first before they look at EC's?
  9. greg1184

    greg1184 10+ Year Member

    Dec 9, 2006
    It depends how much you get out of your volunteer experience. Other than the help I do with the nurses around, I usually find doctors on the floor I work in and hang around them, follow them around, shadow them. I try to get patient contact through talking with patients, empathizing with them (e.g. person who had a perforated appendix, I had a perforated appendix few years back). I try to avoid the trivial stuff like changing bedsheets (Really, I can do that when I am at home). The nurses where I volunteer at are very nice about helping me out. It's up to you to get the most out of your volunteer hours. I love volunteering at a public hospital like Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
  10. ggman

    ggman 2+ Year Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    I second this. At the very least, split your time half and half between volunteering and shadowing, but if I were you i would shadow a bunch of doctors in different specialties. That way you'll get a better sense of what medicine is like.
  11. thirsty4chicken

    thirsty4chicken New Member 2+ Year Member

    Aug 20, 2006
    Med schools like to see a volunteer commitment of ~3 hrs/week over the course of a few years. Also, it looks much better to actually volunteer than to merely shadow. I've heard that many admissions committees don't count shadowing as a volunteer activity.

    Also, volunteering in a health care setting is a great way of seeing if you're really cut out for medicine.

    Heck, I'm going to med school next year, but I'm still keeping up my volunteering. Although it doesn't count for anything, I genuinely enjoy it.
  12. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Not true. I got where I am with not a minute of volunteer work and I don't think it says a damned thing about whether I want to be a doc or not. I'm not saying that's the norm, I'm just saying that there are other ways to find out what you want to do with your life and still get paid for it.
    OP, given that you're a soph you've got plenty of time to consider getting EMT certified and then actually get paid for all that "clinical experience". And you'll get to do a hell of a lot more than wheel patients around the corridors. Plus you get to drive on the wrong side of the street at 15 mph > the speed limit. :D That's fun.
    However, if you're lucky enough to have gotten a hospital volunteer position where you actually get to do things and talk to people and see stuff (unlike the "volunteer programs" at my undergrad which were pretty much useless) and you have the time to spare (i.e the ROI is good enough) then it'll definitely look good if you stick with it.
    However, 3.2/29 with 3000 hours of volunteering is still not going to be viewed as well as a 3.6/36 with none, all other factors being equal. Numbers first, unless you've got a Nobel hidden somewhere.

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