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volunteering frustrations?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by chicagoml, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. chicagoml

    chicagoml Member
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    Has anyone else had a hard time getting hooked up with hospital-based volunteer opportunities? It seems the hospitals in my area (north side of Chicago) are too busy to even deal with inquiries! I have given myself plenty of time to get started on volunteering - I filled out a bunch of apps a couple of months ago and have played phone tag with some offices and have just not heard back from others. I am amazed that this is so difficult. I finally started the process at one place and came out of a TB test/blood draw looking like a druggie b/c of what the blood taker did to my arm - 9 days later, I still have a very visible bruise on my arm!

    Anyway, just venting some frustration and wondering if anyone has tips on how to actually get beyond all of this nonsense and start volunteering.

    I am going to see my physician (DO) tomorrow and plan to talk to her about shadowing her during the upcoming year.
     
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  3. shttthttle

    shttthttle Member
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    ChicagoML,

    I don't know how you feel about hospital volunteering, but I only volunteered in a hospital for a short while (8 hours total) and was still accepted to multiple schools. I found that I was mostly doing administrative work and not really getting the patient contact that I wanted...some other forms of volunteering/work that I did were:

    Big Brothers Big Sisters - volunteer
    Behavioral Therapy for Austistic Children - paid
    Volunteering at Blood Drives/Joing College Blood Drive Clubs - volunteer
    Coaching and Volunteering for special olympics

    Although I didn't see much hospital time, I was able to work with a lot of different people and personality types. In my opinion, it was much more rewarding because of all the interactions. To be honest, I was nervous when I first applied to schools because of the lack of hospital work, but I now know that it can be made up in other ways.
     
  4. TerpDO

    TerpDO Member
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    Even though I personally have lots of clinical experience, I am aware that there are lots of alternatives to direct hospital/patient experience that will boost your application. A good amount of volunteering in homeless shelters/soup kitchens/Rec cross, etc. will show medical schools that you are indeed a compassionate individual and can even be better than a position in the hospital where you do not get any patient contact. Best of luck, I am sure you will find something worthwhile.
     
  5. Soccer885

    Soccer885 Senior Member
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    I live in Tampa I have run into the same problems when it comes to hospitals. But another thing I noticed, most pre-meds get the same volunteer experience and so it doesn't really stick out to much. I ended up finding a free clinic in the area which allows direct patient contact (taking vitals/history) and allows me to talk/shadow some of the doctors that also volunteer there. It is a more unique experience and I think it will stand out better on an application. I also really enjoy it and learn a lot. I have been there for almost 2 years now.

    I would think that in Chicago, there would be some kind of free clinic that you could find. I would look into something like that if you are having such a difficult time with the hospitals.
     
  6. HunterGatherer

    HunterGatherer HunterGatherer
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    sometimes the people in charge of the volunteer dept wear different hats so the process can be slow at times. I only had about 50 hours of volunteering in the hospital. No need to log any certain number of hours.
     
  7. fireclash

    fireclash Junior Member
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    I found that playing phone tag is a tough way to go. If you know where you want to volunteer, find the name of someone in charge then show up asking to speak to them. They may have you wait for an hour or more but if you hold your ground and are persistent, as well as polite, it can go a long way. Also, part of the problem is that HIPAA rules have made it a lot more difficult to get any extensive and worthwhile volunteer experiences. You might have to settle for being running errands and wait for an opportunity to present itself. We will all be working in hospitals at some point so knowing some of the admistrative duties may not be such a bad thing.
     
  8. NY Musicologist

    NY Musicologist Career Changer
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    Have you considered hospice or a nursing home as an alternative to hospitals? Different, I know, but perhaps easier to set up...

    If you want to stick with hospitals, would it help to try a small community one rather than a major center?? (Maybe you already have some of these on your list, though.)
     
  9. cbenedic

    cbenedic Wolverine for life
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    hey i'm from the chicago area myself...which hospitals are playing phone tag with you? I work at Good Shepherd and i know the Advocate Health Care hospitals are usually pretty good about getting back to volunteers and getting them through orientations. Try one of the smaller hospitals rather than the university-affiliated hospitals...the smaller ones may be easier to be in contact with people. And I also just had a TB test and the lady bruised me too!! i heard that there's going to be a new blood test to screen for TB that is more accurate so maybe we won't have to get poked all the time! :)
     
  10. OSUdoc08

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    I'm not sure if it's the hospitals you are choosing, but I volunteered in the ER in multiple hospitals for years. I had a TB test, but never had any blood tests. Normally hospitals are short of volunteers, and they let you start almost immediately or after a short orientation if you feel out the paperwork.

    It is often easier to show up at the volunteer office than to make a phone call.

    Choose some other hospitals if it really is a problem, but I think your case is very unusual.
     
  11. OSUdoc08

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    That's useless, unless you are going into nursing. You need to volunteer in the ER or another area where you can follow doctors around and learn medicine.
     
  12. CatsandCradles

    CatsandCradles SDN Donor
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    Hospital volunteer departments can be frusturating at times - particularly at the big hospitals where everything can get very hectic. But hang in there. You'll eventually be a veteran "candy stripe" :)

    It also helps to do non-hospital work as well. If you're having some difficulty finding volunteer work, one avenue you might want to check out are your local churches.

    Some churches are very big on community service. They often have list and flyers for soup kitchens, nursing home visits, homeless shelters, etc. They often have connections to a lot of NGOs that might interest you. Some of these organizations are quite impressive.

    Also you might be interested in EMT and phelbotomy programs too.

    Best of wishes :luck:

    C&C
     

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