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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by codeguy, May 12, 2001.

  1. codeguy

    codeguy Member 7+ Year Member

    May 3, 2001
    I will be volunteering this summer at my local hospital as well as shadowing a doc.

    Can I get some feedback on the tasks/experiences some of you did/had as volunteers?

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  3. Mackel

    Mackel Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2001
    Last summer (2000) I worked in an OR and I can honestly say that it was one of the best summers I've ever had. I got to know a lot of the surgeons and consquently I was able to see a lot of procedures, everything from laproscopic gallbladders to a full knee replacement, which by the way got me really interested in orthopaedics. One good piece of advice I can give you is be really, really nice to the nurses. They will help you out tremendously. The nurses would often tell me when there was a interesting case going on and tell me where to stand and what not to touch. I had never been in an OR before so there was a lot to learn and the nurses were responsible for a lot of my learning. I also got to know one of the surgeon very well, so he would let me see almost all of his cases. Also, the surgeons might ask you questions about the procedures they are doing (i.e anatomical structure and physiology) so if at all possible read up ahead of time. If there is anything else you want to know about my experience, just ask.
    au reviour
  4. life-is-beautiful

    life-is-beautiful Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2001
    NY, NY
    As Mackel's experience demonstrates, volunteering truly can influence your life and perspective. I have been a volunteer in the pediatric department of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for ~ 1 year, and it has undoubtedly been the most important experience of my life. It not only allowed me to contribute, even just by creating laughter, to the lives of sick children and their families, but it also demonstrated for me first-hand how important the field of medicine is. .. and how much I want to devote my life to it. For example, I once sat in isolation with a four year-old boy named Joell. I had spent time with him once before, and remembered how gentle he was and how something as simple as my ID tag could delight him (he created an entire story around it). This time in isolation, however, my heart broke. He was coughing up blood and phlegm, and every five minutes had to expectorate, otherwise he would begin to choke. But his medication made his oral muscles so sore that just manipulating his mouth to spit made him scream. He was itchy all over, and so exhausted, but he could not rest because he was so uncomfortable. I sat there with him, reading him a book and trying my darnedest to soothe him, and all I could think was, "My God, if I am going to devote my life to anything in this world, I want to do whatever is in my power to help these children." The patients have taught me the fundamentally important things in life. . . I am ashamed to think of how crucial numbers and resumes were to me before I began volunteering. After just a few weeks at Sloan-Kettering, my entire perspective of medicine shifted...I began conducting my life such that I would be a better PHYSICIAN, not a better med school applicant. Ironically, the two go hand in hand, I believe, but it's not difficult to focus on one and exclude the other.
    I apologize for rambling, I suppose your question just allowed me the opportunity to talk about a subject about which I'm SO passionate. Just seek opportunities that you know "fit" you. I almost did not volunteer in the pediatric department b/c I'm also a Make-A-Wish volunteer, and I worried that med schools would not find me "diverse" enough. Thank God I listened to my heart!
  5. pre-hawkdoc

    pre-hawkdoc Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2001

    i think it's great that you're exploring your interest in medicine. i, too, got my first taste of health care through a volunteer program, and have since been employed as a surgical aide and ER CNA. There are numerous keys to making the experience as beneficial and rewarding as possible; here are a few that immediately come to mind:
    -be sincere about your motivation and never avoid a task that you feel capable of handling--no matter how demeaning/revolting you find it. conversely, never do anything you're unsure of without asking.
    -get to know, and pay attention to, the nurses. this cannot be overstressed. even though you will eventually be a doctor, you must realize that they know more than you and consequently can teach you many, many things. they can also serve as a liason between you and docs, since they may be intimidating and/or seem unapproachable.
    -let your intentions be known. don't flaunt it, but make sure that the people you're working with know that you want to be a doc. it has been my experience that as soon as docs find out that you want to become "one of them," they look at you more like a student and less like someone that cleans up their messes. they'll start inviting you to watch procedures and will explain them, which gives you an excellent opportunity to...
    -ask questions. don't be annoying, but making inquiries makes you're motives seem more pure (ie. you truly want to learn) and it makes the docs and nurses feel like they're helping to mold you, which they are. don't feel like your questions are stupid--remember that at some point, these people didn't know the answers either. they know this and won't look down upon you, as long as your questions are genuine. a wise man once said "there is no such thing as a stupid question, as long as you sincerely want to know the answer."
    hope this helps. just some things i've picked up in the last few years that i've found to be true. any other ?s/concerns, drop me a line.
    good luck.
  6. 12R34Y

    12R34Y 10+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2000

    where are you an ER CNA? I worked in the University of Iowa's ER as a NA for a couple of years. that's also where I took my paramedic training. Do you work in the ER there or Mercy, or the VA?

  7. pre-hawkdoc

    pre-hawkdoc Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    actually, i was an ER CNA in burlington (my hometown) over breaks. i looked into working in the ETC at UIHC, but didn't get very far. i'm now doing cardiology research at the U. and working on my undergrad in exercise science.
  8. snowballz

    snowballz Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    It doesn't have to be volunteer...any medical type care is appropriate. Right now, I'm caring for a lady who happens to be a quadrapalegic.(sp?)

  9. caffeinegirl

    caffeinegirl Physician 10+ Year Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    my volunteer experience here at the only hospital in the county (upstate ny ain't a happenin place) was extremely boring. There was nothing to do except stock up cabinets with supplies and make beds.
    make sure you explicitly say you want clinical experience before taking the position!
    it didn't help me much here because there wasn't anything ever happening
  10. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    That wise man didn't go to my high school. For example:

    "So has anyone ever been to the moon?"
    "What's a subscription?"
    "So Washington state and Washington DC are two different places?"

    'Nuff said!
  11. Malftap

    Malftap Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 14, 2001
    My voluteering experience was great. But it was only that way because I got to know a few of the doctors and practically all the nurses and ER techs in the emergency room. At first I was bored because I didn't make an effort to find out what I could do. There were so many other people that voluteered in the same ER that didn't get even half of the experience I got because they didn't make an effort to get involved with the staff. I guess they figured if they sat around long enough that someone would come up to them and ask if they wanted to do something. The point is you can't be passive and expect to get the most out of voluteering.
  12. snowballz

    snowballz Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    But you know what, everyone volunteers these days. In fact, I think it's part of the "cookie cutter" premed syndrome. We all need something to set us apart. I think it's important to get into something where you're REALLY working with patients..either one on one in a home health care setting or in a hospital. :)
  13. peppercat

    peppercat Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2001
    N.S. , Canada
    life-is-beautiful - wow that was deep. I hope I get the same amount of satisfaction from volunteering as you because it seems as if you have had a life changing experience.

    Snowballz- I have to agree with you completely. Since getting in is so competitive I think the majority of premeds volunteer. So really d need something special to set yourself apart from the crowd. :)
  14. star23

    star23 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    I had a lot of volunteer experience to put on my secondaries and I am sure it helped, but don't do volunteer work just because you are supposed to. I have been a volunteer coordinator for the last 2 years and it is really easy to tell which people are doing it just to get into med school - they make terrible volunteers because there heart isn't in it. Just because it is volunteer work - doesn't mean you can slack off (not show up when you are supposed to, have a bad attitude, etc). I think it is important to have some volunteer work becuase it shows you are altruistic, but I don't think it necessarily has to be in a hospital. Make sure it is something you like.
    It may not be interesting to have to stock shelves and do other scut work, but you can still learn a lot about how a hospital works, what everyone does, and how it takes a team of healthcare professionals to care for a hospital patient while doing the little things. My advice: be perceptive, courteous, and build a relationship with the staff.

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