I know we are not supposed to focus on a certain number of shadowing and volunteering hours, but I keep listening to the Premed Q&As and they are giving me anxiety. Here’s my situation:
I am 32, have a FT career in business. I am taking 6-9 credits of science courses each semester on top of working in my career. I will complete my DIY post-bacc at the end of this fall with about 42 credits, along with my previous bachelor and masters degree in business. I then plan to study for and take my MCAT in the spring and apply to medical schools in the 2022 cycle. The downsides: my overall GPA will be poor. I’m coming to terms with this and focusing on how to strengthen my application in other areas. The upsides: my postbacc GPA is a 4.0.
I started this journey in January 2020 by officially signing up for classes and signing up as a volunteer at my local hospital. Then COVID hit and volunteering as well as shadowing was shut down. Since most clinical opportunities were off the table, I got involved as a Board member for a local NFP Hospice organization; I figured it would help me get as close to medicine/caretaking as possible given the current circumstances. I also continued to volunteer at any “one time” volunteer activities my hospital offered. And I’ve just begun getting shadowing hours.
At this point in time I would say I have about 50-75 hours of hospital volunteering, 200 hours of Hospice board volunteering, and 50 hours of shadowing. My hope is to try and get about 125 - 150 hours of shadowing by the time I apply next spring, and then I will likely continue to work after that to keep finding shadowing opportunities.
The shadowing I have done has been the most helpful in envisioning myself waking up and being a physician each and every day. The volunteering has been helpful in finding out that I like being in a hospital care setting, and the Hospice Board activity has given me an intricate sense of how things run in a care facility or service (although I would like to get out of the administrative function of it all still). At this point, I am trying to focus my shadowing more on specific specialties that interest me, and get a feel for different cultures at different offices, and to simply continue to be involved in something that I really enjoy. BUT, shadowing has not been easy to find. I’m averaging about one “yes” for every thirty clinics I call. I’m also at some point going to become constrained by the amount of PTO I have available in my career.
I know I want to be a physician. Every experience I have had thus far has only reconfirmed this desire. In addition to shadowing, I have been in familial situations as an informal caretaker for my grandfather with alzheimers, a loved one with a Schwann’s cell tumor surrounding his L3/L4 vertebrae (pre and post surgery), and another loved one who suffered third degree burns after a gas fire. I was also in a long term relationship with an ER physician and became intimately familiar with the successes and struggles of his work, the reality of being a physician rather than just any perceived “glamour” it held. However, despite all this, I am now worried that I didn’t care enough about the number of hours I got. I listened to two of the Premed Q&A podcasts recently where one girl mentioned having 3 full time months of shadowing with a rheumatologist, and another girl mentioned getting a job as a scribe 3 months before she submitted her application (if she is FT, this would give her about 120 hours of scribing pre-application) and the vibe I got from Dr. Gray in both of these situations was that this amount of shadowing was not enough. Or maybe I mistook his reaction and it was more directed towards continuity of experiences? Can anyone give their input on my situation? I feel like I have been constantly told that going down this path is possible, but now it’s feeling like unless I quit my job right now and get a FT scribing position, I’m not going to have enough hours when I go to apply (also, I even looked into PT scribing but it really did not seem like a possibility given my schedule. I would have had to work at least 2 10 hour shifts each week which would mean overnight shifts where I would then get up in the morning and go to my FT job from 8 - 6 M-F, or working every day of the week (M-F at my FT job, and Sat/Sun scribing). A part of me wouldn’t mind suffering through this, but right now my weekends and evenings are quite dedicated to another part of this journey - homework, and eventual MCAT studying).