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Volunteer vs Shadow?

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ChemEngMD

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I found something like this in the pre-dental but I was wondering what you guys all thought. If you only had time to do one (volunteer or shadow), which one would you do? Do you think one is more important than another to adcomms? Thanks for any input!
 

Lukkie

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definitely like shadowing better, but the impression i get here is volunteering is more important to adcoms
 

scarletgirl777

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I found something like this in the pre-dental but I was wondering what you guys all thought. If you only had time to do one (volunteer or shadow), which one would you do? Do you think one is more important than another to adcomms? Thanks for any input!

This is a hard question. Assuming you have neither clinical nor volunteering experience, i would shadow...it's nice to show you like to help people, but you also need to show that you like medicine. Also, a good shadowing experience does not take as much effort as a good volunteering experience--a couple weeks or so during the summer can help you learn a lot. Of course, ideally you should have both types of experience (although the clinical does not absolutely need to be shadowing)--it would be hard to get in without having both. If time is an issue, you can hit 2 birds with one stone with clinical volunteering.
 
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You will learn more shadowing but the reality is the adcoms want a crapload of volunteering too...gotta do it all man!
 

Martin Prince

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Shadow.

Volunteering takes many many hours/months to even look productive. If you have enough time for volunteering, you definitely have enough free time to do both.

If you only have a few days or weeks, shadow. Several of my interviews asked for specific clinical incidents which made me want to enter and/or run from medicine. It was much easier to retrieve stories from shadowing experiences.
 

Excelsius

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I found something like this in the pre-dental but I was wondering what you guys all thought. If you only had time to do one (volunteer or shadow), which one would you do? Do you think one is more important than another to adcomms? Thanks for any input!


You have to do both. If you can't find the time, then take some time off until you do because you probably won't be admitted without volunteering experience.

These are two very different things. Shadowing allows you to spend a short time with several doctors in different specialties. This is a case where you would not be able to help the doctor anyway, so volunteering is not an option. Some have said that as many as just four hours in any given specialty should be enough for shadowing. This should not take a lot of time. You just have to find a doctor and basically ask him to visit one day.

Volunteering is more important than shadowing because this is where you really get to smell the patients. You spend many hours in the hospital environment and even if you don't do that much there, you learn about the ambiance a lot. Given that some students who get admitted have like 20:1 ratio for volunteering to shadowing, and others have no shadowing experience at all, volunteering is much more important than shadowing. Volunteering is a community service. Shadowing is a spectator sport.
 

alwaysaangel

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Try to find a really good volunteer position where you can do both.

I never formally shadowed a doctor - sounds like a waste of time to me - but plenty of people do it.

I was fortunate enough to volunteer as an MA. I was useful, got to volunteer, got patient contact and developed relationships with doctors who called us in for interesting cases.

So look around your city and see what is available to you. Lots of big cities have a lot of free clinics so you may want to start calling around - even working at the front desk might be a gateway to getting to the back where you can work directly with patients.
 

Typical Premed

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I am doing my masters research in a childhood ADHD clinic at a pediatric hospital. On occasion my supervisor (a child psychiatrist) invites the students to observe clinical interviews with the patients and their families and lets us participate in the debriefing session with the neuropsychiatry team (where we get to see how they formulate a diagnosis for the patient). Would this still be considered a type of shadowing experience even though its probably quite different than what most people do when they shadow a physician?
 

xrevision

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I know one of the schools I'm applying to won't even give you a screened secondary if you don't have any clinical experience. They believe that people should get experience in the medical field before they commit to mountains of debt.
 

ChemEngMD

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I know one of the schools I'm applying to won't even give you a screened secondary if you don't have any clinical experience. They believe that people should get experience in the medical field before they commit to mountains of debt.

So do they only consider shadowing "clinical experience"? Is being a volunteer in the ER not considered clinical experience?
 

HumidBeing

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So do they only consider shadowing "clinical experience"? Is being a volunteer in the ER not considered clinical experience?
No, volunteering in the ER is clinical experience. The LizzyM definition of clinical experience is famous around here - If you are close enough to smell the patients, that's clinical experience.

Volunteering in the ER is an example of obtaining clinical experience while volunteering. It's one of those two birds with one stone type of things.

Shadowing is ONLY clinical experience and does not count as volunteer hours.
 

ChemEngMD

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No, volunteering in the ER is clinical experience. The LizzyM definition of clinical experience is famous around here - If you are close enough to smell the patients, that's clinical experience.

Volunteering in the ER is an example of obtaining clinical experience while volunteering. It's one of those two birds with one stone type of things.

Shadowing is ONLY clinical experience and does not count as volunteer hours.


Perfect. I do my volunteering in the ER lol
 

Nemuri

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Perfect. I do my volunteering in the ER lol

Same here, based on LizzyM's definition I'm considering volunteering in pediatrics. As long as I can smell the kids while I read to them right?
 

Dr Lyss

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No, volunteering in the ER is clinical experience. The LizzyM definition of clinical experience is famous around here - If you are close enough to smell the patients, that's clinical experience.

Volunteering in the ER is an example of obtaining clinical experience while volunteering. It's one of those two birds with one stone type of things.

Shadowing is ONLY clinical experience and does not count as volunteer hours.
this definition can vary with schools. Most schools I have been to have included any volunteering in clinics or hospitals under clinical exposure... but one school in particular blatantly told me that they don't consider this clinical & put it under volunteering instead (he was filling it out in front of me...) so he only considered my shadowing experiences as clinical exposure. But I think the consensus is volunteering is very important & try to do some volunteering in a clinical setting to kill 2 birds with one stone
 

Lukkie

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As long as I can smell the kids while I read to them right?

take that too far and you might gain some jail experience. although that might make you stand out to the adcomms.
 

Tekbright510

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Shadowing does not have to be a one time event. For one of my shadowing experiences, I spent time with a physician over the extent of my winter break.

I went in to shadow him 2x a week for 3 hours each day for about 4 weeks. This allowed me to see a variety of cases, helped me get to know him well and vice versa. He became a mentor to me and to this day I still keep in touch. I was able to ask him for a LOR for my application.
 

linguini

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Perfect. I do my volunteering in the ER lol

This is a good idea. In my experience, however, volunteer spots in the ED may be limited since pre-meds have caught on to this trend. So ask about it early on and seek out multiple hospitals if need be.
 

ChemEngMD

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This is a good idea. In my experience, however, volunteer spots in the ED may be limited since pre-meds have caught on to this trend. So ask about it early on and seek out multiple hospitals if need be.

Haha yeah, I know what you mean. The little city my school is in doesn't have super competitive pre-meds so I'm holding it down I think.
 
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