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Volunteering

TurkSurg

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i only do filing and pulling up charts in the hospital where i volunteer... is this what everyone else is doing ? what do people mean by patient contact ? im very confused about this because i dont know if everyone else is doing filing and etc.. please share your duties for your volunteering program, so i can get an idea what people are doing.

thanks
 

biophysicianai

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I've done a lot of EM volunteering, and all I do is talk to patients who are feeling neglected and lonely (which is actually very interesting some times). On a good day, I'll escort someone to the exit and get to carry their discharge papers for them. I think this is probably what is meant be "patient contact". For liability reasons, there isn't much more that you can do as a mere wannabe doc.

Occasionally, there's an ER doc who notices me and takes the time to show me something - a simple procedure, or an x-ray, or a badass battle wound that someone brought in. Most of the time, though, the docs and nurses are too busy with patients to care that I exist. :mad:
 

Tekbright510

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As mentioned in the preceding post, volunteers in a medical setting here in the US typically have a pretty limited set of possible duties because of liability concerns.

From personal experience, I found volunteering at my local hospital to be rather mundane. I was often designated clerical duties or duties involving stocking medical supply carts. What I did to make the most of my time in the hospital setting was to pick the brains of as many people as possible. I talked to nurses, technicians, physicians, and patients whenever I had the chance and tried to learn about the medical profession. This helped me learn about the hospital setting, and also allowed me to get to know hospital staff well. Through regular volunteering, I was able to parlay my efforts into a strong LOR for my application process.

I think adcoms realize that premeds are not actually allowed to do much in the way of "patient contact." As long as you spend some time in the environment and learn a thing or two to talk about at interviews, you should be all set.
 
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Tekbright510

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Strive for quality over quantity. Instead of jumping around with volunteer positions, stick to one job for a sustained period of time (entire summer, or school year) and put in consistent hours.

I do not believe you have to have a extravagant number of hours to be successful. For example, I volunteered 2x a week/4 hrs per day during one summer in my local ED. Over the course of the school year, I volunteered 1x a week for 3 hrs. This has worked for me...
 

Lukkie

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a while back i volunteered in the radiology dept. got to follow the rad techs around as they took various x-rays around the hospital. got a lot of patient interaction here, for example if there was a particularly heavy patient who was non responsive, the rad tech would not be able to lift him on his own to get the x-ray slide behind his back to take the chest x-ray. then i helped the tech develop the slide.

also i got to observe some interventional radiology procedures. i always thought radiologists just sat in dark rooms all day but apparently one of the specialties, interventional radiology is like surgery-lite. they put a camera into the body and do various procedures, like finding a tumor or angiogram, and even some treatments like embollizations, draining fluids, and inserting catheters.

look, you have to MAKE oppurtunities if you want to get anything meaningful out of your volunteer experience. ask a lot of questions, if you can do things, be a little annoying, dont be afraid of rejection.

edit - if you are just pulling charts and things like that, try asking the nurse about the charts. learn how charts work, what goes in the chart, and maybe some of the issues the patient is dealing with. when you hear about some medication, or see something in a chart, ask about it. i'm pretty nosy and skimmed through a lot of charts in my free time in some departments :laugh:
 

hedgehog1

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I volunteer at a local hospital and they seem to stick most everyone in patient transport...so basically I get to wheel people around. I guess some patient contact is better than nothing. :-/ If you have been volunteering at the same place for a while, why don't you approach your volunteer supervisor and express your interest in getting involved as you can...you never know if they might need help in a different department, and it can't hurt to try.
 

Lukkie

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I volunteer at a local hospital and they seem to stick most everyone in patient transport...so basically I get to wheel people around. I guess some patient contact is better than nothing. :-/ If you have been volunteering at the same place for a while, why don't you approach your volunteer supervisor and express your interest in getting involved as you can...you never know if they might need help in a different department, and it can't hurt to try.

yeah you gotta ask around and be a little pushy about it imo... if i just took what they gave me i'd be answering phones and stocking towels all day.
 

Typical Premed

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I volunteer in the ER at a pediatric hospital. I have a bunch of different responsibilities such as greeting patients and escorting them to their rooms, helping expedite the flow of patients through the ER, doing arts and crafts with the patients, giving the patients movies to watch, playing board games/video games with the patients and supervising the younger patients/siblings while their parents take a break. Although it is pretty tiring and we have a lot of different responsibilities, it is definitely an enjoyable and rewarding experience. So if any of you are thinking of getting a clinical volunteering position I would definitely recommend volunteering at a pediatric hospital as you will likely have more patient interaction and have a little more fun than you would in a typical hospital volunteer position.
 

alwaysaangel

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If you can find any smaller clinical settings you may find better opportunities.

I was fortunate to find a free clinic to work in during undergrad. I was a volunteer MA. I did intake (BP, temp, main reason for visit), got to do really basic procedures (glucose stick tests, urinalysis, HbA1Cs, ear lavages, Rapid strep tests, pregnancy tests, etc.). I also got to shadow on the really cool things, and because I was the only female MA I got to chaperone on every pelvic. Doctors taught me how to diagnose the cause of vaginitis, etc. Overall it was an awesome experience. Great patient exposure and experience with physicians and what they do.

Like others said its a matter of finding something to do and pushing for opportunities. The local ER might be easiest but if you look you are likely to find some really great smaller opportunities where you will have better experiences.
 

tdittyx2x3

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I would definitely try out a few different options in your area. If your not getting the experience you want somewhere, I don't understand why you would stick with it. If filing stuff isn't your thing - and I don't know whose thing it is - then do something else!

I found the E.D. pretty fun, but like almost all things in life, it is what you make of it. If your involved and always looking for something to do or learn, willing to ask questions, and you are comforting to the patients then you will benefit from the good experience. Try to find a hospital that won't use you for grunt work as much and will allow some flexibility.

As for patient contact specifically, shadowing one doctor is an almost guaranteed way to get more up close and personal. It's not volunteering per se, but it can be a pretty good experience - watch surgery for the first time, you'll never forget it.
 

Slowpoke

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Do you happen to live in the state of California?

We californians have a great clinical volunteering opportunity open to those in the local area (and when I say clinical volunteering I don't mean filing papers, paper work, or the likes - I mean actual patient contact!). Try visiting the Clinical Care Extender website, hospitals near UCI, UCLA, UCR, CSULB are participating.

http://copehealthsolutions.org/hwt/cce.html
 
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