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Volunteering before applying to formal postbac

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AmeliaV

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Hi! I've been lurking for a month now and just wanted to thank everyone who gives advice in these threads. You've helped me a great deal so far as a non-traditional student on the road to med school.

I'd like to know what you all think about this situation: I'm trying to put together a stellar application to be sent out no later than early December which means I need to get some volunteering in. I'm only applying to five programs (Goucher, BM, Scripps, Harvard, and JHU). My fall back if I don't get in is to take classes at a school like UMass Amherst.

I've been told that in order for my application to be at all competitive I'd need some experience working with patients. Since it's August now (applying in 4 months) I'm under the impression that the best/fastest way for me to do this would be to volunteer at a hospital or clinic. I have a few questions about this.

First, is anyone else doing this kind of thing right now? I'm having a lot of trouble finding a hospital that is accepting new volunteers, and also finding one that doesn't require me to speak Spanish fluently. I live in Miami and not being fluent in Spanish is my biggest problem by far, as I'm instantly disqualified to work in every clinic I've checked with.

Second, if I do find a place that would let me volunteer, how bad would I look to postbac schools for only trying to volunteer now? If I get something by September, I would only have about 3 months of experience. Would that experience count at all? I shadowed in hospitals in high school and worked with my father (Forensic Pathologist) whenever I was home from college. Formal programs have made it clear to me that this doesn't count for anything really.

Third, I volunteered last year at an Employment Justice Center where I was acting as a liason between lawyers and people who could not afford legal advice. Would it take more than this to impress top tier schools if I used it as my community service fulfillment? I realize I should always do more but time is of the essence and I'd like to get in as much in-field experience as I can.

Lastly am I being silly for putting an early deadline on my applications? They aren't really due until April-May, but I understand that earlier = better chances. The question is how much better is it to apply in Dec. as opposed to say March if it means a little extra time working in the field?

For background my undergrad GPA is 3.5 (Asian Studies) and the only sci classes I took were Bio, Chem, and Neurology for Speech and Hearing majors (of the non pre recs for med school kind, so they won't disqualify me from a formal program). My SATs are pretty bad at around 1230-1250, so I'm taking the GRE (though only three of those programs accept it) in October.

Sorry for the long post, and again I really appreciate what you all are doing here. Thanks in advance for any answers and advice!
 
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drizzt3117

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you want to apply by dec for the top programs. Volunteering sounds good.
 

robflanker

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Your science classes might keep you from the true post-bacs. I know you said they weren't pre-med kind but you still might run into some opposition to them. Just a thought.
Wouldnt be a deterant - just a heads up
 

drizzt3117

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Your science classes might keep you from the true post-bacs. I know you said they weren't pre-med kind but you still might run into some opposition to them. Just a thought.
Wouldnt be a deterant - just a heads up

Prolly won't, IME. I was an engineering major and got into all of the top 4. They just don't want ppl who've taken traditional prereqs.
 

AmeliaV

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Thanks for the concern but my alma mater and most of the post bacs confirmed that my previous science classes were for non-sci majors and thus would not disqualify me.

I'm definitely volunteering no matter what, and luckily enough I got an interview at one hospital with an opportunity that involves patient care (it's tomorrow, wish me luck!). The question is; if I am going to be volunteering in a capacity that deals with patient care, do I need to make the extra effort to do some community service? I'm working 25hr PT now and hoping I'll be able to put in 20 hrs/week at a hospital. In addition, I'm studying to take the GRE in Oct. and am planning on taking calc at MU/FIU in spring. Plus as I mentioned, I'm wondering if my previous community service counts since it was a year ago?

I talked to Scripps today and the impression I got was this: even though I would only have a few months of hospital experience by the time I apply in December, I would have about 6 months experience once the interview rolls around. I'm taking this to be standard advice, since drizzt seems to agree! Applying earlier is better.
 

drizzt3117

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Sounds like a plan!
Thanks for the concern but my alma mater and most of the post bacs confirmed that my previous science classes were for non-sci majors and thus would not disqualify me.

I'm definitely volunteering no matter what, and luckily enough I got an interview at one hospital with an opportunity that involves patient care (it's tomorrow, wish me luck!). The question is; if I am going to be volunteering in a capacity that deals with patient care, do I need to make the extra effort to do some community service? I'm working 25hr PT now and hoping I'll be able to put in 20 hrs/week at a hospital. In addition, I'm studying to take the GRE in Oct. and am planning on taking calc at MU/FIU in spring. Plus as I mentioned, I'm wondering if my previous community service counts since it was a year ago?

I talked to Scripps today and the impression I got was this: even though I would only have a few months of hospital experience by the time I apply in December, I would have about 6 months experience once the interview rolls around. I'm taking this to be standard advice, since drizzt seems to agree! Applying earlier is better.
 
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