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What is your clinical volunteering like?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by t2oo5, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. t2oo5

    t2oo5 Member
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    Hey guys,
    I just recently started volunteering for a hospital. For those of you who volunteer at a hospital, what does your work entail? Some hospitals around my area offered things like, wheel chair transport, and then other things like folding neo-natal blankets, making copies, cleaning, etc.. not the work I wanted to do. I found a hospital that offers a H.E.L.P. (Hospital Elder Life Program) which involves interacting with elderly patients who are basically lonely; assiting them eating, talking to them, basic physical therapy (not aloud to touch though of course), and keeping them physically and mentally active as much as possible. This is the program I chose, and I thought it would be better to gain clinical experience via volunteering through a program like this vs one which offers more "office" type work. Hopefully this was a good choice, do you guys think so? What do your volunteering jobs involve?
     
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  3. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    my volunteering was beyond boring, which is why I quit as soon as I got a job as an EMT.
     
  4. Anastasis

    Anastasis caffeinated for safety
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    Volunteering at a hospital sucks.

    Try to find a free clinic - they're desperate for the help and you'll still need to do some scut work, but you'll also get more patient contact.
     
  5. gujuDoc

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    I volunteer in a couple of pediatric clinics so I get tons of patient interaction, but generally not in a way where I get to see medical procedures or anything. What we do get to do is read to children in waiting rooms with one of the programs I volunteer with. In the other program we do all sorts of activities that range from playing with children to doing arts and crafts to throwing back to school parties for them to all sorts of neat little fun things that are like reliving one's childhood. hahahaha. Seriously though, its kinda fun.

    I used to volunteer at the VA as an SICU volunteer and still do technically but not as often. That's more boring then the children's volunteering stuff I've done. Of course I love children more then working with elder patients, not to say elder patients aren't also interesting but for volunteering purposes there's more you can do with a child then in an SICU waiting room.
     
  6. aliendancer84

    aliendancer84 Junior Member
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    I have volunteered in three hospitals:

    At the first one I worked in the maternity ward setting up rooms, taking apart charts, bringing the mothers water, and making baby hats. In the emergency room at the same hospital I brought samples to the labs, wheeled patients around, called people in from the waiting room, and stood around A LOT.

    At the children's hospital I volunteered at, I spent a lot of time visiting with patients and rocking babies on the oncology floor.

    At the pediatric rehabilitation hospital, I rock babies, play with the toddlers, and help out in therapy.

    The children's hospitals gave me the most patient contact. But like others have said, I went out and became and EMT...then you really have patient contact!
     
  7. Dr Durden

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    I initially started in the ED thinking it would be exciting and varied. But the volunteer coordinator only let me do day shifts which translated into a boring experience where the majority of my time was spent staying out of the crabby nurses' way along with the other three volunteers there at the same time.

    I later transferred to the post-surgical recovery room and have liked it a lot better. For starters, the staff is much more personable and professional. My shift would usually begin with me folding blankets and stocking shelves, followed by an hour staring at the wall in the actual recovery room (~ten beds all facing the nurses station). Yet after striking up conversations with the nurses and showing them that I was genuinely interested in helping out and not just another pre-med tool, they started letting me escort patients & families and shadow them into nearby ORs. I'm the only one on my shift and despite this being an academic medical center, have gotten to do a lot.

    Moral of the story: Switch into a less popular volunteer spot.
     
  8. brianwilson

    brianwilson Member
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    I'm currently volunteering at a smaller hospital in suburban orlando. I'm assigned to the ED, however they only give me work for about 2 hours a day for my 4 hour shift. To rectify this, each shift I shadow an ED doc for approximately 2 hours. To do this it is very simple, go up to the doctor when he's filling out a chart or not busy and ask him if you can shadow him. I guarantee you he or she will say yes. Beats standing around.
     
  9. MrMet31

    MrMet31 DWright for MVP
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    I did my volunteering with a volunteer EMS crew. You don't have to be an EMT to have patient contact. I took Blood Pressure, Set up O2 tanks, took Medical History, and helped with patient transport. Got to see some interesting stuff: Chainsaw accident, Circular saw accidents, motor vehicle accidents, etc. Plus the usual overweight grandmas who had trouble breathing. Overall great experience, and who doesnt love riding in an ambulance on the wrong side of the road with the lights and sirens blaring.
     
  10. I almost volunteered at a hospital. Story time: They made me fill out an application that was like 8 pages long, read a bunch of HIPAA stuff and take a quiz, have an interview like a job interview, attend a 3 day training, etc. On top of that, I had to commit to a certain schedule. Remember, this is VOLUNTEER work, not paid employment. I told them that I spoke spanish and was a CNA so I had some healthcare skills. They said, "well, you can't interpret and you can't touch the patients." (I was new to this whole thing and kind of naive about it). So, I thought, you know what, I'll go elsewhere.

    I found a free clinic. The doctors, nurses, pharmacists, interpreters, and office staff are all volunteers. I actually interpret for patients, take vital signs and histories, interact with patients and doctors, and have been given leadership roles. They just put me on the board of directors for the clinic. I sign up when I want to volunteer. I didn't have to do a bunch of paperwork. And, the best part is, I'm actually helping PEOPLE not some huge hospital corporation.

    The reason that I mention all of this is just some advice for people looking to volunteer. There ARE good places to do it where you can really have a good experience. You don't have to just go to your local Hospital's ER. :)

    edit: not that volunteering at the hospital ER is bad or anything, just that there are other options. not trying to offend anyone!
     
  11. Omyss

    Omyss Member
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    whats an EMT?

    DoubleU, What exactly is a free clinic??? that kind of volunteering sounds awesome, but i don't really know where to look for this "free clinic"
     
  12. monkeymeg2

    monkeymeg2 Member
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    This is probably a dumb question...but do we need to both volunteer and shadow? In high school I did a lot of what it sounds like you all are doing with a children's hospital and a few nursing homes. Since college however, I have pretty much stuck to shadowing. I still feel like I have significant patient contact--I listen to heart/lung sounds, can identify a few murmurs, am allowed to watch procedures (mostly debridements), review charts with the physician, and talk with her about prescriptions and treatment plans. I am well aware (and I'm sure the med schools will be, too) that this is benefitting me more so than the patients. Do I need to volunteer in a hospital in a bit more of an altruistic fashion?
     
  13. Anastasis

    Anastasis caffeinated for safety
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    That's very similar to my experience with a free clinic.

    If you want to go about finding a free clinic, the best resource I found was the local phonebook or county health. Look for the phone book and start calling around or call county health and ask if they have a list of free clinics in the area.

    I take vitals, histories, shadow the doctors, write up orders, help dispense meds, run the free medication program, etc. I'm really thankful for my experience because I don't think I would have gotten near the patient contact I've gotten in a hospital.
     
  14. runningmom

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    If you are near a military base and can access the military hospital, you can volunteer through the Red Cross in the military hospital and generally have as much (or as little) pt contact as you desire. Call the military hospital and ask for the Red Cross liaision.
     
  15. etf

    etf
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    this was my story and trust me it comes up in interviews...i think you need to get more "hands on experience."
     
  16. geno2568

    geno2568 Senior Member
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    my experience in the ER was really boring

    that is...until i asked the docs if i could shadow them. They all let me..it was great.

    But in a few months, the volunteering director got pissed, and told me to stop.
    So i left the hospital.
    Shame, though. I really like shadowing, the docs didnt mind, and neither did the patients.
     
  17. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    [​IMG]

    (not me, thank Google Images)
     
  18. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    and they drive in these (if their company makes mucho $$$$)

    [​IMG]
     
  19. DoctaJay

    DoctaJay bone breaker
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    I personally think its better to shadow residents, especially surgery residents. They get so busy that they end up allowing you to do things you technically aren't supposed to do. What you are thinking of doing is cool, but find a family friend who is a resident, and you should get your hands a little more dirty.
     
  20. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Yes--and make sure you put in plenty of "face time." They will know that you care about the position and that you want to help. Also if they feel like they know you, they will trust you to do more things with patients. You can't expect to walk in and get to do some awesome thing or observe something awesome--the staff doesn't know if they can trust you.
     
  21. aikaterine

    aikaterine Junior Member
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    I've really only done the shadowing thing too. The only volunteer program I could find would be working in the gift shop and bringing presents to patients. I wanted more contact with doctors to see what working in a hospital is actually like, so I've spent the summer shadowing a cardiologist. And while I'm not directly helping patients, I'm running errands for the doctors, spending time in the heart failure clinic, going on rounds, problem solving with residents, watching cath procedures, and following up with heart transplant patients. I've even gone to grand rounds, scrubed in to watch open heart surgery, help nurse techs record and input procedure information into the computer, and try to calm nerrvous patients before or during cath procedures. I've learned a lot about the doctors' side of things, and I feel like I'm more aware and prepared for hospital work than if I had just volunteered. But I also have a really great volunteer project outside of medicine that I've been a part of, so I guess it depends upon your over all experiences.
     
  22. somemaybedoc

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    How do you guys deal with department directors who want you to spend your volunteer time doing filing and paperwork for their department far away from patient care? I know it gets stuff done, but I'm not volunteering to help them avoid hiring secreterial staff.
     
  23. GreekPre-Med

    GreekPre-Med GreekPre-Med
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    My volunteering was very interesting. I suggest that you volunteer in a hospital that is not very research oriented, and preferably in an urban setting. This will allow you to see a number of different disease pathologies.

    Emmanuel Melonakos
     
  24. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Keep in mind that doing paperwork may be a more constructive use of your time in the eyes of the directors. As a volunteer, you're at the mercy of what the hospital needs you to do. It really doesn't do a service to the hospital for you to be in contact with patients, unless your job description specifically entitles you to do so (ER tech, patient transport, bedside attendant, etc.)
     
  25. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    I started off shadowing an orthopedic surgeon in his office and then it kind of morphed into volunteering. I basically started organizing his x-rays, bringing patients back to their rooms, doing H&P's, and pretty much anything else he needed.

    I plan to do some kind of emt volunteering this coming year.
     
  26. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Okay, the EMT in picture #16 is kind of hot. He could stand to get some muscle on him but he is cute. Good job, google images! :)
     
  27. Tribeca

    Tribeca Senior Member
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    I also volunteer at a children's hospital and i love it. I "shopped around" for hospitals and found that public and teaching hospitals give you more opportunities than private ones. Some days I'm at the NICU feeding babies, changing diapers, and rocking them to sleep. Yesterday I started at the peds ward. The Child Life Specialist is who I report to, and she had tons of thingsd for me to do. I go around each room (excpet for contact isolation patients) and ask the parents/kids if they want dvd's/ps2 games (there's a console in each room). I get to do bedside activities for the kids and for those who could walk, I take them to the playroom to play, do art, or read books. I was hella tired after my 4 hr shift, but Ireally enjoyed it. I think I'm getting really good patient contact this way.
     
  28. Dr Durden

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    First the sleepover comment on the high school n00b thread and now this. Behave yourself jackie. ;)

    But back to the topic at hand.....
     
  29. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    These secondaries have Jackie all hot and bothered.
     
  30. Dr Durden

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    Danjo's a lucky man right now then. :D
     
  31. Crookshanks

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    I volunteer at a local free clinic as an interpreter.

    (obvioulsy, you must be bilingual to do this, and your second language has to be in demand, so to speak)

    Pretty much whatever happens I get to observe, because I have to be there in order for the doctor and the patient to communicate.

    So far it's been a great experience, I highly recommend it.

    Good luck!

    P.S. I've helped out with their pharmacy, and I've also had to do things like getting one of the physicians to tell me what he thinks of a pile of irregular lab results, whether to call back or not...that sort of thing, but the paperwork truely is minimal, and my help in that department while I'm standing around waiting for another Spanish-only-speaking patient to come in, is of great help to the clinic.
     
  32. WilliamsF1

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    I volunteered at Orlando Regional Medical Center (level 1 trauma center) ER dept for a year. The volunteer coordinator put me in the radiology dept (which is what I asked), but the radiology guy said he didn't need my help and sent me to the ER CT scan room! It was a lot of fun. The technicians were really cool, too. I helped bring patients to the room, put them on the scanner, sometimes got to line them up with the lasers. After the techs would select which scans to print, I'd print them out and deliver them.

    I later found out a girl in one of my classes volunteered at the same hospital, but at a different time. The reason the radiology dept upstairs didn't need my help was because she was there at the same time. Only when I was gone she was let down to the ER area where I worked if she finished her stuff. She hated doing the non-ER stuff because it was just filing documents. I guess I got lucky!
     
  33. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I mean, that is actually me, and that was before I started working out. :naughty:
     
  34. ShoalinStyle7

    ShoalinStyle7 New Member

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    if you have the opportunity I would suggest volunteering at a trauma center. Its boring sometimes but you do get to see some interesting cases. Especially if you are in a large city. :thumbup:
     
  35. jace's mom

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    I volunteer in an urban ER, and I actually enjoy it very much. All of the nurses and docs let me watch things any time I ask unless the patient refuses, and they always take time to answer my questions. They also give me little tasks - probably some of which are more than I should be doing, but things get busy. Usually nothing involving direct patient care (i.e., I generally don't touch the patient, which I shouldn't because I have NO clinical skills), but they'll ask me to hold things or bring stuff to them...stand in as the "can you grab that?" person when I'm the only one who's not working in the sterile field. I do sometimes help transport. The whole time, they'll talk to me about what they're doing and make sure that I can see what's happening. They even do this during traumas...they always make sure I have a good place to stand to see things. Sometimes it's on a chair looking over a screen so that I get the top view, but hey... :)

    Did this happen the first night I volunteered? Not so much. However, it did happen the second night and every night since. The first night they seemed a bit wary of me, so I worked my butt off making beds, fetching cups of water, filing, and generally doing whatever needed to be done. Later I learned that the other volunteers rarely do any of that stuff (they just stand around doing nothing), so once I had proved that I was there to work, the staff all "adopted" me. I still continue to file, make beds, etc every night, because they need me to. The difference is that now the staff lets me see just about anything I ask to see, and they'll actively come looking for me if something interesting happens.

    Moral of the story...volunteering, like any job, is NOT all about you. Show that you're there to meet the needs of the organization, and if they're a good company, they'll reward you with more freedom and responsibility.
     
  36. Dr Durden

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    ^Very eloquently and accurately put jace's mom. Don't act like you're entitled to your MD, be willing to do scut work, act amicably to all ranks of staff, and you'll more likely than not end up with a good volunteer experience. :thumbup:
     
  37. DropkickMurphy

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    The only volunteering I do is an EMT-Intermediate and firefighter. I don't think I gain anything by standing around twiddling my thumbs watching everyone else work or doing scut work at a hospital when I work at one for my "day job".
     
  38. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    This is similar to my experience in the doctor's office. I basically showed him I wanted to learn, wasn't an idiot and he started giving me things to do. Also I started just doing things, without having to be asked. That doesn't mean I did anything patient contact wise without being told to do so, but I started helping. The hospital he is at uses computers for their x-rays, so he would need them in particular order and without being told, I just learned how he wanted it and started putting it that way.

    So anyway, I think a lot of times volunteering is what you make of it. Also you have to have cool doctors/nurses.
     
  39. rajad10

    rajad10 Senior Member
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    yea i agree with jace about showing them you're going to work hard. i have a full time job as a surgical assistant this summer in the OR which is so humbling. I had to stock a lot of stuff and clean up the blood and stuff after the surgeries. I had never even mopped a floor in my life before this. However, it was very humbling and I worked hard, nonetheless. The doctors and nurses all noticed, started talking to me and now I've shadowed almost all the surgeons there in my free time and seen over 30 different surgeries in gyno, ortho, bariatric, urology and plastics. So you might have to be a "slave" for a bit I consider it paying for a ticket to watch the greatest show on Earth.
     
  40. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    My job in the OR is almost the exact same as yours. The only difference is, I am screwed over because we aren't allowed to watch surgery unless it is the only case going on. Usually the last case of the day is some never ending plastic surgery which I am not too interested in.
     
  41. rajad10

    rajad10 Senior Member
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    yea after the first week, i was going to quit because i felt like *excuse my language* a biaatch. then i started to learn how to pick cases from one of the nurses so it got better. and soon after, the ortho surgeon assigned me the job of helping prep all the hips and knees before the surgery because I was stronger than the teeny-weeny nurses. in retrospect, the reason i got to shadow so much was because the nurse manager has a son at UCSF med and knows how important it is to learn from shadowing. i'm glad i stuck with it
     
  42. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    Yeah I help prep legs and do stuff like that. It is funny though, I am so used to cleaning up blood and pick up bone chips off the floor, it doesn't even phase me anymore. I remember how shocked I was when I first started in the OR.

    Anyway, I wish we had more oppurtunities to watch surgeries or participate but it isn't really available. Although, there was this one back surgeon who was going to let me scrub in and retract for him during surgery and then with my luck he went to a different hospital lol. So a lot of finding oppurtunities has to do with luck.

    Another thing you can do, if you're still working in the OR, is shadow anesthesiologists. Watching and learning how they intubate is pretty cool and the one's at my hospital are all real nice and good teachers.
     
  43. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Um....secondaries don't really get me hot and bothered. I KNOW I am NOT the ONLY ONE that thinks that EMT is kinda hot. I was just sayin'.

    DAMN you guys, I have to check in on SDN more often, y'all like to say all kinds of crazy sheeeat.
     
  44. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    Yes you really need to stay on these forums more often, without you it just isn't the same! Oh I don't know what we'll do applying in the 2008 cycle, if you leave us behind!
     
  45. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Tell you what. IF/When I get in this cycle, I'll stick around and help you and Brett with whatever you want. :)
     
  46. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    Alright and IF you do not get in this cycle (yeah right), me and Brett will help you! haha
     
  47. greytmedic

    greytmedic Faster than you
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    I volunteer as a firefighter and work part-time for the areas ambulance service as a paramedic. I just worked a 12 hour shift last night, got about 2 hours of sleep, and got puked on...God, I love my job. :thumbup:
     
  48. yes
     
  49. Sorry it took a while to respond.

    A free clinic is one where patients without means to pay are seen. Some charge the patients a nominal fee based on a sliding scale and others (like the one I volunteer at) don't charge the patient. We take people who don't have health insurance of any kind (i.e. don't qualify for medicaid but still need help).

    I agree with Anastasis that the best way to find one would be to call your county health department. Our county health dept makes referrals for people to come see us all the time, so they obviously know who we are and how to find us. I actually called the United Way for my county and asked if there were any volunteer opportunities for clinical settings.

    Also, in response to all of the posts about how your volunteering in the ER has been great, I don't disagree that you could have a good experience in a hospital, I'm just saying that there are other options that may be better in some situations. The key is, like someone said in an earlier post, to shop around and find one where you're not just doing scut work.
     
  50. BMEkid09

    BMEkid09 BMEEEEE
    2+ Year Member

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    I have volunteered for 3 hospitals, and i can say that my tasks have been the same for each: boring, clerical work with some interaction with the nurses and doctors. I also did American Red Cross for a year, and this was by far the best experience since i got to work closely with a group of mentors, and other kids. They treated me like an adult and gave me pretty big responsibilities. The project that i work on got national acclaim and i was acknowledged by the city mayor for my work. Do Red Cross if you get a chance ;)

    PS. I also was able to get CPR certified while i was there :D
     
  51. spospo

    spospo Going to extremes
    7+ Year Member

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    i tried to volunteer at a hospital in denver (couldn't because i got hurt) that had a really cool program. if anyone in the denver area is looking for a place (haven't heard of any here) look to exempla hospital. they have the regular volunteer positions and they also offer a "pre-health" program. a lot of local people do it for credit, but they offer it to all volunteers. they give you a sheet with a list of names and contact info. it is a whole bunch of doctors at the hospital who volunteer to allow you to shadow them. it lists the types of things you can expect to see and do. it also lists the dates of cool pre-health days at the hospital when they have important people come and talk. it was nice to know that you could just call any of the docs and expect a yes answer. maybe they did it to prevent premeds from acting all buddy buddy with docs all over the hospital just so they could ask to shadow? whatever the reason, i think it is a great program.
     

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