Yorick

a fellow of infinite jest
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Nov 18, 2012
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Hi I just finished my first hospital volunteering shift in orthopedics and it was pretty slow, spending about half the time on my phone or reading. Is this typically hospital volunteering? I would like to get a feel of what being and working in a hospital is like but also do more work. There is a geriatrics center and nursing home near my school, would I expect more personal and clinical experience there? Thanks
 
Mar 10, 2012
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What is your volunteer work supposed to be? Definitely don't be on your phone. Engage the doctors, ask if you can shadow them... Actively look for things to do (ex: restock). From my experience every shift will be awesome or a waste of time based on your own efforts. (Not to say days wont be slow with not much to do but still try to show your interest and be of help in any way possible.) when I volunteered in the ER and it was a slow day I would restock fast tract for the nurses, even though fast track didn't open for a few hours. The more I did to help and got to know the people working around me, the more I was allowed to watch and do.


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Yorick

Yorick

a fellow of infinite jest
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Well they told me that it is generally a slow floor and there wouldn't be much to do after the first 1-2 hours and there wasn't much to do even though I did consistently asked for anything to do although I did get to see like patients being checked into rooms, doctors working etc.
 
Mar 10, 2012
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I would try to take advantage of the "low points" and maybe make some connections that could be used later for LORs.
 

eleveneleven

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Aug 19, 2008
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I have found that with most of my volunteering experiences, they are typically more rewarding the longer and more consistently you stick with them, especially those in a clinical setting. I wouldn't gauge the entirety of the possibilities for this experience on this first day. The more time you spend there, the more comfortable you become with the staff, and the more readily they dispense responsibilities that you can handle onto you. Lots of this comes with forcing yourself to take initiative by doing any little thing that seems like it can help and interacting with staff members in a meaningful way. The more you do this, the more the staff will appreciate you, the more you'll be able to do, and the more you'll take away from the experience.
 

virtuoso735

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Apr 21, 2011
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That sounds pretty typical for a volunteer position in a hospital. I volunteered in an emergency department and most of my time was spent walking around making beds. Occasionally, I was able to help patients by wheeling to CT scan or bringing them food, but that was the extent of the patient contact. Never had the chance to speak to doctors, although most nurses and techs were willing to show volunteers a few procedures. I found hospice volunteering to be more meaningful because you actually do get to interact with patients on a more personal level. Seek out those experiences, but I would also recommend you stick with your hospital volunteering if you have time for it. It's something that almost premeds have, and while it won't help your application a whole lot, not having enough clinical exposure can be detrimental to your application.
 

TriagePreMed

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Yes, a lot of volunteering results in a waste of time because not everything is happening all the time and all at once. The rewards you'll find will be there, but they will be occasional. Make yourself available and be friendly to everyone. You'll be surprised how much you can learn just by listening to experience.
 

Konfidence

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Feb 14, 2013
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That's very typical of hospital volunteering as others have said. I spent a few months volunteering in the triage of an ER, talking to patients and handing out water/blankets. However, being there opened the door to me becoming a scribe in the same ER, which was the best thing to happen to me in regards to applying and being accepted to med school. So stick with it, make connections as others have said. If they have a scribe program, I highly recommend it.
 

Gerudo

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Dec 23, 2010
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I would argue there are volunteering positions out there that have minimal down time. You have to decide if you want to put forth the effort to find the right one versus doing one that may sound decent on paper where you can maximize hours.

Also, I don't know what your exact situation is but I would be hesitant to asking doctors willy nilly to shadow them during the hours you should be doing your volunteering duties.
 

torshi

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Oct 26, 2010
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Hi I just finished my first hospital volunteering shift in orthopedics and it was pretty slow, spending about half the time on my phone or reading. Is this typically hospital volunteering? I would like to get a feel of what being and working in a hospital is like but also do more work. There is a geriatrics center and nursing home near my school, would I expect more personal and clinical experience there? Thanks
everyone's exp is different, but the majority is tedious bullcrap. changing linen and other useless stuff. As a volunteer it would be too much of a liability to do more meaningful things
 

CharlieL

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Feb 11, 2013
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I thought volunteering in free clinics was a far better learning experience--you get to do a lot more. Shadowing in the hospital is probably a better experience than what you're describing.