Volunteering as an Undergrad, What’s best if you want to Work in Medicine?

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You may already know medical schools look at more than an applicant’s grades when they are deciding who to accept into their program. Extracurricular activities, MCAT scores, and medical experience are also important. Medical schools want to see you are a well-rounded applicant who has a variety of interests. One way to beef up your qualifications is to do some type of volunteer work while you are an undergrad. 

Why Volunteer?Gathered round observing a surgical procedure

Volunteering is a great way to enhance your skills and develop new ones. It can also be a good learning experience. You may get to learn about a different culture, subject or population, and may learn more about yourself. You may also discover an interest in something you did not even know existed.

Working as a volunteer shows you are committed to something and demonstrates leadership skills. Lastly, volunteering gives you the chance to help someone else and make a difference.

 

Volunteer Opportunities 

There are many types of volunteer programs, which you may be able to participate in. Consider some of the following:

  • Hospital Volunteering: Students may have the chance to volunteer in various departments throughout the hospital. It is a great opportunity to see the inner working of the facility. 
  • Working with Children: If you like working with kids, consider becoming a camp counselor over the summer or a volunteer tutor. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer with children.
  • Clinic Work: Similar to volunteering in a hospital, clinic work can be interesting and provide you the chance to interact with patients. Community clinics, immunization programs, and mobile clinics may all need volunteers.   
  • Research: If research interests you, there may be volunteer opportunities with pharmaceutical companies and laboratories.   
  • Volunteering Aboard: Volunteering in a third world country can be exciting and rewarding. Not only do you get to learn about another culture, but you have the chance to help people who need it the most.

Whatever you decide on, consider how much time you have to give and don’t get in over your head. You do not want to commit to a project and have people depending on you, and then quit. If possible, try to volunteer at least a year before you apply to med school. 

What’s Best?

If you are applying to med school, you may be trying to decide what type of volunteer job is best. The answer is; there is not a “best” type of volunteer work. Avoid signing up for something you have no interest in just to bolster you medical school application. If you are volunteering solely to impress an admission’s committee, don’t do it. It is not fair to the people you are trying to help. There are other ways to boost your qualifications.

But if there is something you care about and want to help, volunteering can be a great idea. Do what you are passionate about. If it involves medicine, great. If it does not, that’s OK too. Help build homes for veterans, feed the homeless or work in an animal shelter. Do what you love!

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