Volunteering is an important aspect in a premedical student’s preparation, but finding a place to volunteer can be difficult. Any type of volunteering is great, but medical based volunteering could be more beneficial. Medical schools use volunteering as a way to determine whether you know what being a doctor entails. Being a doctor can be tough, so schools want to make sure you know what you’re getting into and are capable of handling it.
A great place to volunteer is at a hospital. Many hospitals have well established volunteer programs. Although you might have more time to volunteer during the summer at your hometown hospital, taking time to volunteer at the hospital near your school also has its benefits. This hospital is probably already familiar with having student volunteers from your school and could be able to give you advice on what areas these students found more interesting and advantageous. Usually hospitals have many different departments in which you can volunteer. Ask the volunteer coordinator where there are openings and ask to volunteer in the one that is most interesting to you. For example, I am interested in radiology and so am volunteering at my local hospital’s Imaging Center. At first I didn’t know what to expect, but now I love it there and cannot wait to go back each week. Volunteering is a committment, so it is important to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing. Most hospitals require one four-hour shift per week for at least three months. Be sure to ask your specific hospital about their policy to make sure you are capable of maintaining this committment. Also, be sure to ask if you will be interacting with patients. This provides for valuable experiences that you might not have if you work in a stockroom by yourself. Other places where you can volunteer include inner city health clinics or a nursing home. A great resource is the pre-med advisor at your school. This person will be able to tell you where past students have volunteered and maybe even connect you with these places.
Where are you volunteering or are hoping to volunteer at? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, be sure to include any questions or suggestions you may have.
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