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what exactly constitutes clinical experience?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by fudGez14, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. fudGez14

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    ive read some other threads that talk about this, but they weren't very clear.

    if someone were to volunteer in the hospital and shadow physicians, would that be sufficient clinical experience? what other activities or things could one do for it to be considered as "clinical experience"?

    and would shadowing doctors be more valuable of an experience than volunteering in the hospital? i'm trying to figure out if i should spend my time trying to find physicians to shadow, or just enter into the volunteer program at the hospital close to my university.

    thanks in advance!
     
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  3. aSagacious

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    I would generally define clinical experiences as ones where:
    - There are doctors present (somewhere in the general vicinity anyway)
    - You have direct patient interaction (even if only on a superficial level)
    - You learn something from it
     
  4. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist
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    If you can smell the patients, it's a clinical experience ;)
     
  5. Person0715

    Person0715 Socially awkward
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    Why not do both? Do you have sufficient time?
     
  6. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    Clinical Experience comes from actively engaging patients. You can get clinical experience with sick people through the workplace, for class credit, data gathering for a clinical trial, or via volunteerism. It can be gained at a free, family-planning, or private clinic, hospice, hospital, VA, residential home, rehabilitation facility, nursing home, as a first responder, among others.

    The advantage of gaining clinical exposure through volunteerism, is that it also is looked on as expressing altrusm, an unwritten expectation looked for on an application.

    Shadowing is a type of clinical exposure, but because it is passive while you observe the role a physician plays (watching how a physician conducts business with patients and staff, takes a history, conducts a physical, counsels and treats, dictates notes, takes phone calls, does paperwork), it is not sufficient in itself at many schools. Though you choose voluntarily to shadow, it is not a "volunteer" experience, as it does not serve the patient.

    In order for your application to appeal to the broadest number of schools, it is wise to include both types of experience.

    I'd suggest you start with the volunteer program at your local hospital, as longevity with this type of experience is desirable. Shadowing can come later.
     
  7. purplelightning

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    I'm confused about this too. I volunteer at a nonprofit clinic. I mostly work with nurses and the front desk. I call patients to reschedule appointments, ask follow up questions, get yelled at :p, etc. It's an experience I really enjoy because patients spill out their complains to you, and I've had some emotional experiences on the phone. But this doesn't seem really clinical, right? I'm not interacting much with doctors or patients face to face.
     
  8. macsta

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    I suggest you learn to use the search function
     
  9. fudGez14

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    so as Catalystik said, hospital volunteering will definitely count as one type of exposure. if i were to do volunteering at a hospital and say, a nursing home, is there much difference? am i really being exposed to really different environments? and what about volunteer that doesn't have much to do with the medical field? for example, volunteering with habitat for humanity or meals on wheels, like an organization that does humanitarian work and reaches out to the community, but might not be directly linked to medicine?
     
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Are you close enough to smell patients? Are you in the facility itself or working from a remote location? Can you hear other staff members interacting face to face with patients?

    See if you can get some shadowing with physicians at the facility or otherwise serving in patient exam rooms in addition to what you are doing now.
     
  11. purplelightning

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    Yup, I work in the clinic. Haha, I can smell patients when I walk past them to say hi. I hear a lot of medical faculty and patient talks, but not in exam rooms, just at the front desk.

    And yes, thank you, I should definitely get some shadowing done there!
     
  12. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    1) It depends. The type of nursing home with bed-bound patients where nurses are involved in their care and doctors round on them at least weekly would be a good source of clinical experience, as would a unit for those severely effected by Alzheimers or similar (not day care).

    A retirement home where elderly residents live independently would less likely provide clinical experience unless you are involved in activities that assess their condition, improve their functioning (eg, fine and gross motor skills, or you are otherwise therapeutically involved in their care (eg, physical therapy assistant). Some might argue that enhancing socialiization could fall into the latter category, but opinions among adcomms vary, as physicians don't generally visit retirement homes.

    2) Nonmedical community service is a different category. It is a good idea to engage in this as well, as some med schools are specifically looking for such involvement. Programs that serve those with poor economic resources would be ideal (like H for H and Meals on Wheels), especially if it's a cause that you care about. Giving your time to other students, like tutoring, getting involved with political groups, or fund raising for organizations also show your altruism but won't be as appealing as off-campus, hands-on involvement for some adcomms.
     
  13. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I want to put in a plug for volunteering to help the poor, particularly if you have the opportunity to visit them in their homes and this goes double if you grew up in a comfortable situation and most adults you know have college educations.

    I've been doing this myself for over a year and although the group I volunteer with is not clinical, I have had the privilege of visiting a wheelchair bound man with MS and his wife, a man with advanced cancer who lives with his wife & daughters, a woman with foot ulcers so bad she has had some toes amputated, and a long-haul truck driver who fell on hard times after a crash put him out of work for a few months.

    Getting to know the lifestyle of people whose lives are much different from your own is an important "life experience" that some adcoms like to see as evidence that you will be able to relate to patients from all walks of life including the sick poor.
     
  14. 13132

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    I agree. I recently picked up some non clinical volunteering and it has been the best experience yet. I tutor mentally handicapped adults and volunteer in a homeless shelter. Definitely consider serving the underprivileged and disenfranchised.

    I would monitor a room at the shelter where the homeless could sleep. Many would talk to be before they drifted off and they opened my eyes to poverty and homelessness. Some struggled with mental illness while some used to be middle class workers and some talked about a life of drugs. It was heart wrenching.

    Find something you love and don't just check off the clinical experience box. Also when I would volunteer in the ER I would see the people from the shelter with frostbite etc. Terrible.
     

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