Volunteer hours necessary (?)

I’m beginning my pre-med career while working full time as a speech-language pathologist in special education. I’ve seen volunteer hours come up as a med school requirement, and I’m wondering if that’s necessary. To be clear, I’m NOT asking this because I don’t want to help people. I’m asking because my current job in special education is so mentally, emotionally, and time-demanding that I fear getting more volunteer hours will take away from my students. While I’m still working in special education, I feel the need to give 100% to my students. Ultimately, I feel that dedicating myself to my current job (while doing pre-med coursework at night) does a greater good than stretching myself too thin just to get technical volunteer hours. How would medical schools feel about this reasoning?

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I am going to just post here because I’m in healthcare too, a Respiratory Therapist in fact. Working in healthcare over the last 12 months it’s been emotionally and mentally exhausting. Plus, finding volunteering opportunities now is very hard. I’ve contacted several in the last couple of months and they’re not looking for any at the time and keeping the ones they’ve had lately. So, I just want to see some people’s responses


Not necessarily? I’m no adcom, but I don’t think its completely necessary. However, in the case of a mission based school, it is absolutely needed.

  • For ex: If a school’s mission is to help the underserved, how are you going to show that you want to do that? If you work for a company that helps the underserved, you’re still getting paid for it. Volunteering your time would be an example of an altruistic way of giving back without any upside.

Paid healthcare hours also wouldn’t show you would fit the school’s mission because you’re both getting paid and racking up healthcare experience.

It helps to think in the ADCOM’s perspective. Hope this answers your question.

I’m no speech-language pathologist, but I work in Healthcare IT; even more removed from any sort of patient interaction. This year has been pretty demanding and challenging balancing work with school. I’m seeing that many schools recommend 100 hours, but truly, I don’t think that’s reasonable to ask of non-trads because attempting to squeeze this thing into an already demanding schedule during an insanely tough year is going to reduce the quality of my other work, which I do take seriously because I do indirectly (no matter how far removed) support the front line workers in hospitals. This is me partially venting, I admit that, but as non trads we don’t have flexible hours and we’re called upon to work even after hours sometimes. With traditional volunteering out of question, virtual scribing requiring 16 hours of commitment at minimum in shifts (not spread out like 2 hours on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, etc. which was the kind of volunteering I was hoping to do barring the pandemic), I’m considering something like eShadowing or virtual shadowing from MedSchoolCoach which does allow me some flexibility to work on that stuff whenever I have a spare moment. Would that be viewed negatively by medical schools?

EDIT: I have no volunteer hours at this point, whatsoever. I had maybe like 15 hours 8 years ago at a physiotherapy place where I would prep hot and cold packs and do some filing work

I am also a nontrad that works in healthcare (registered nurse). I recently found out this same thing that volunteering is something that a lot of school say is required. One of the schools does serve underserved patient populations so I may have to try and find volunteering opportunities to fulfill those hours.

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If you’re looking for virtual shadowing hours, try WebShadowers or PreHealthShadowing. The doctors usually give case presentations to try to make shadowing as close as possible to in person

Ping the schools you’re interested in, and ask, especially if it’s not on their website already. Different ad-coms think differently about this stuff, especially given the situation. I think we would all love to go out every weekend and volunteer places, it’s just not in the cards, and there’s not much you can do about it. If a school is somehow inflexible on it, it may not be a school you want to go to.

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