First baby steps/next steps

Hi folks.
I have just this week completed most of the application to San Francisco State for their postbacc program. I still have to make sure some transcripts get to them, but that’s all that remains for this step.
I can’t tell whether I’m underwhelmed or terrified at the seeming simplicity of this first step.
That said, even if I start in the summer term, I have six months with mostly nothing at all related to medical school (aside from a volunteer opportunity at a local counseling center.)
Seeing as there’s not a whole lot of volunteer opportunities around me (especially with language barriers and whatnot,) any thoughts on what I can do over the next six months to get a small leg up on the coming challenges?

Are you in the Bay Area? If so there is a wealth of things to do–but let us know where you are and then perhaps we can brainstorm together.
(SFSU post-bac alum, Harvard Med 3rd year student)

There are lots of volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area, but in general it takes lots of perseverance to get into them. SF General Hospital has several “normal” routes of volunteering (ED), but if you had a particular interest and wanted to volunteer in other areas, the Volunteer Exec Director Renee Cibulka is open to that. Keep in mind you have to prove yourself at many volunteer places before they let you into the cool zones. It takes a lot of patience, and volunteer directors are some of the most overworked people you’ll meet. That may mean 6 months, or 100 hours, or whatever. It’s good to start working on it now. Create your own opportunities by finding a clinic & walking in or asking your personal physician for shadowing experiences. Your volunteer experiences should derive from what catches your heart on fire–is it AIDS, homelessness, domestic abuse? Follow it.
In all of my volunteer opportunities, the best ones involved establishing a relationship with a doc or prof who learned I was trustworthy–and so talked to me a bit more, let me see & do a bit more. In all those cases it meant showing up & doing the grunge work first. But I am so much richer for it.
If you’re going to SFSU, I’d suggest haunting the hallways of your favorite dept (bio? chem?) during the term break. The profs will be there & you can start networking early–ask them for advice, what Q’s you should be asking, what you should read if you are interested in their research or the class they teach. Be respectful of their time, but try to find the topic that makes their eyes light up.
Finally, get hooked onto the PBSO (postbacc student organization) website at SFSU, if you’re not already. There are lots of folks at SFSU like you.
Enjoy! This is an exiting time for you. It’s my belief that our fear shows us what is precious to us, so it sounds like you’re on the right path.

Actually, I’m in Tokyo and will be here until summer, thus the limited opportunities… (and the medical system here is struggling to be second rate)
Pretty much all I have access to are bookstores and the internet. Essentially, I’m hoping to do something that will either improve my results/understanding in my post bacc or ease that brutal first year of med school. Or is it better not to worry about it until I actually move to the Bay Area?


(SFSU post-bac alum, Harvard Med 3rd year student)

Very good to hear things like this

You’re living in Tokyo? Now that sounds like a great experience unto itself. Have you been studying the language at all? Volunteering in a hospital is probably impractical unless you’re near-fluent, but nonetheless you could create for yourself an interesting research project, such as a comparison of Japanese and American health care systems, interview some English-speaking health care practitioners over there, particularly a doc who may have studied some in the U.S., and maybe produce an article out of it. Seems like a good learning opportunity.
Just a thought.

That is a good thought. Thanks. There are a fair number of Drs with experience in both countries.
I do speak Japanese, but medical stuff is like a whole separate language in any language.