In Joseph Heller’s famous book, one of the characters (Orr) faces a real problem. To keep from flying more World War II missions as a pilot: Orr could be crazy and be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to…
Some dilemma, eh? I have a similar one. Almost every medical job that involves direct patient care or contact requires some sort of certification process. All volunteer positions around here do not allow direct patient care/contact. Med schools want direct patient care/contact.
So, how have you OPM’s who have been successful satisfied this requirement?

I do not think that medical schools require direct patient contact for that is almost impossible with todays laws. What they do want to see is that you know the role of the various healthcare providers and this will give you insight into what medicine will entail. Most volunteering jobs are mostly observing or doing stuff like getting warm blankets, water, etc…for patiens. So do now worry about this too much just as long as you get exposed to the field…

How about respite care for hospice patients? You go into the home for families who are caring for hospice patients and basically patient-sit while the family runs errands, shops, or just gets out of the house without worrying their family member will fall or the house will catch fire while they’re out.
Certification is not required in our community for this. I’ve been doing hospice volunteering for a year, though I do it in a residential hospice facility. In the facility it’s different. Sometimes I do laundry, sometimes I clean the kitchen, sometimes I fill candy dishes, sometimes I sit with patients or with family members who need to vent a bit, and sometimes I help with routine patient care.
It’s been quite a learning experience; I’ve sometimes looked around the hallway and realized nobody I’m seeing today will be there the next time I come in. I’ve seen patients get kicked out of hospice for not dying. I’ve seen family in almost all the stages of grief. And one day, after a nasty day at work full of computer viruses and hacker attacks and other things I think of as stressful, I sat and held a little old lady’s hand as she told me how it was she found out she was going to die.
I still treasure the perspective.

I have quite a bit of contact with families of patients in my current volunteer role. What I don’t have - and need - is direct contact with sick people. I’m thinking that the best way to do that would be to get a CNA certification and look for a job.
Has anyone else tried this?

I don’t know much about CNA certification - it seems to vary from state to state. I do know that many nursing homes will provide this training for free (and actually pay you for your training hours) in exchange for your agreement to work for them for a certain amount of time.
Another excellent way to gain patient contact (and, in fact, how I became interested in going to medical school) is as an EMT. The basic EMT certification is certainly more demanding than CNA (at least in Ohio) and takes about four months, but if you are lucky enough to live in an area where volunteers are needed, you can gain great patient contact AND volunteer experience.
I have considered doing hospice as well. Many hospice programs provide wonderful training programs. I think it would be a VERY rewarding experience.


Have you checked out your town to see if they have a free health clinic. Most of those run on the help of volunteers and are excellent places to get the clinical EC.

Direct patient contact is anything that gives you interaction time with patients. That can be delivering flowers to sick patients, handing out snacks and drinks to patients waiting for cancer treatments, bringing around magazines to patients in the hospital, nursing home volunteers (helping with with bingo or reading to the older folks), etc… It doesn’t mean you have to do something that has direct patient care, just contact verses care.