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Volunteering with no patient contact useless?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by mabindaby, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. mabindaby

    mabindaby Still Alive
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    Hello SDN!

    I'm new to this forum and to the whole being a stressed premed thing. I just had a few quick questions. I would be a 2nd year at UCB but my situation recently became not very favorable. My dad got cancer :( and I had to drop out of school to go back home to Colorado and take care of my younger sister. I feel a little off track but I'm determined to make the most of the year.

    For the fall semester, I'm taking EMT classes, teaching piano, and volunteering at the local hospital. I'm still waiting to hear back, but hopefully I'll soon be shadowing two surgeons as well. For the volunteering, I'll be working mainly in the emergency center where there will be the necessary patient contact that ad comms look for. However, in high school, I volunteered at the central supply area, which sterilizes the surgical tools. While I was there, I learned the names of many of the tools and how they're used. My question is, would it be worthwhile to continue to volunteer there to learn all of the tools? It would be interesting for me but I don't know if that would help me at all when applying. If I could mention it in an interview or write about it, perhaps it would show my interest in pursuing a career in medicine?

    Any other suggestions about how to eke out more from this year would really be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
     
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  3. aSagacious

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    I'd shoot for something with patient interaction over sterilizing surgical tools.
     
  4. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    The Emergency Center is a good place to be, as you need patient interaction. Since you already know about some surgical instruments, I'd suggest moving on to a nonmedical community service that helps the poor instead (even if only for 1 hour per week), rather than 2 hospital gigs.
     
  5. Drogo

    Drogo hakuna matata
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    Yeah definitely stay in the EC area as for the other volunteer work, scrap it and go help in food drives and other events for underserved communities.

    I'm moving from the Radiology area to the EC area, I'm just a paper runner and water-getter in Rads right now, I enjoy helping out but at times there's absolutely nothing to do. The only time I get excited is when I see the MRI scanner images and CT scans and talk to the x ray techs. I don't even get to see any radiologists working.
     
  6. mabindaby

    mabindaby Still Alive
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    My idea with the central supply volunteering was that if I knew all the names of the tools, perhaps I could make myself stand out in some way among the zillions of other applicants. Along this line, I had purchased a medical guide to diseases a couple years ago. Would it be helpful to be knowledgeable about the terms in there, to be able to say, I read and learned an entire such-and-such book?

    Thanks, really appreciate the replies :)
     
  7. drdan83

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    if you got something out of it, then it's not useless.
     
  8. FunnyCurrent

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    Sure... ADCOMS routinely quiz you on the names of medical tools and supplies :laugh:

    In my experience, the crappy volunteering experiences I listed on my AMCAS were things that nobody ever asked me about. I'm not really certain what you plan to gain for application from this experience:


    • Does it help you to confidently answer the question "why medicine"
    • Can you spin the experience as a example of how you "love to help people"
    • How does knowing the names of the tools make you a better applicant? (don't you think whatever you learn superficially here will be learned properly in medical school)
    • People who spend extensive time in a clinical environment learn common disease presentations, treatment algorithms, clinical pearls, and the true nature of medical practice. With this said, knowing the names of the tools seems laughable by comparison. If there's nothing else available than do it. Honestly, I would think you could find something better if you looked hard enough.
    Maybe if you explained better how you planned to list this on the AMCAS to make yourself standout I would understand. I just don't see it though.

    :eyebrow:

    Huh??? To be able to say to who? To your interviewer, application reader (through the amcas), the doctor, the lady that works at the supply place? Perhaps I'm expecting too much but I just don't see this experience as something particularly impressive if that wasn't obvious already.

    I don't know if this is the type of volunteerism you want. I bet you're interested in surgery (that's why you want to clean surgical tools right?). As a volunteer experience you cannot spin it as a "I want to help people" type of activity. You cannot use it as evidence of your "fundamental altruism." You cannot use it as fodder for the "why medicine" question (well you could but I think you would be really stretching it. There are better activities, usually involving direct patient contact, for this purpose). You cannot use it as fodder for to answer the "I will be a good doctor because..." prompt.
     
    #7 FunnyCurrent, Aug 19, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  9. mabindaby

    mabindaby Still Alive
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    Haha, thanks FunnyCurrent, I guess I'm far off the mark then. I suppose I'll channel my energy towards finding an internship or research or some other more substantial endeavor. Any suggestions for what to look for? Did you have any experiences you felt both helped your application and were fun, or at least not horrible?

    Sorry if I'm obnoxiously ignorant about what is good for med school and not. I guess I don't really know anything. Hopefully, as I have only just started college, I still have time to learn. As it is, I've turned to the internet and this forum to try to learn. Thanks again for all of the constructive advice :)
     
  10. FunnyCurrent

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    Unlike so many people who randomly volunteered thinking that racking up hours is what matters I carefully selected my activities so that my application would suggest to the admission committee that I:


    • can clearly articulate "why medicine"
    • have the experiences to support my articulation of why medicine
    • have the qualities that will make me a good physician (ability to lead, work in a team, adapt, work efficiently under pressure, empathy, altruism, intelligence, curiosity, etc)
    • want to help people
    • am intellectually gifted
    • am well regarded by superiors (professors, physicians, PI's)
    • Demonstrate an active interest in the sciences and scientific inquiry
    • etc
    Think about what your activities say about you.
     
    #9 FunnyCurrent, Aug 19, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  11. FunnyCurrent

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    EMT --> Tech job in ER (try to see if you can get the tech job in the ER because it can be an epic experience. I got to do chest compressions on a pt BIB EMS having a MI on my FIRST day)
    EKG Tech -> Tech job in ER or in Cardiologists Office
    Surgical Tech On the Job Training (hard to find, some of us get lucky though) -> Surgical Tech Job
    Scribe Program
    Medical Shadowing
     
  12. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist
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    One thing leads to the other. There are many "internal" positions that open up which random strangers can't apply to.

    If nothing else, put it down as "hospital volunteering" then don't elaborate too much. Because it is.
     
  13. FunnyCurrent

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    This is true which is why I hesitated to post. But I was never one to rely on a maybe... in this case hoping that just maybe some benevolent doctor will notice me and throw me a bone. *whimpers whimpers pouty face*

    Screw that! I would rather do something that was more dependent on me advocating for myself. I'm a wolf. Wolves do beg for scraps grrrrr lol
     
  14. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist
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    No benevolent doctor will notice you and throw you a bone. I even asked. They can't do it inside a hospital: insurance reasons. Of course, the ones that allow you to shadow probably don't care... until the volunteer coordinator catches them...

    All I'm saying is, there are real JOBS that open up, and if you have a CNA or EMT, you could be considered for them.
     
  15. FunnyCurrent

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    Fair enough. OP, if you cannot find something that is better or something that is a sure pathway to something better than continue with this volunteer opportunity as you have nothing better and it may lead you to a real Job.

    Of course I said this before. If you cannot find something better than youre better off with something rather than nothing, and like morsetlis stated it very may well lead you to a real job/opportunity (which you would desperately need if you could not find anything better)

    Yeehaw grammar rodeo
     
  16. mabindaby

    mabindaby Still Alive
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    That ER tech job experience sounds intense. I'm quite excited as I know of a few openings in my area and plan to apply. Hopefully, it'll be a good experience. How did you find training to be a surgical tech? I know that this is rare but perhaps I can apply it to my circumstances. What is a scribe program?
     

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