Volunteer Work: What you need and what you don't?

Can someone really outline what a premed is looking for as far as volunteer work to meet the clinical hours that you should have for your medical school application?

  1. What makes it “clinical”?

  2. Departments that usually meet the standard?

  3. Other possibilities a person should look for when applying for a volunteer position? (ie shadowing opportunities, or LORS)

  4. How you should word your needs when applying for a volunteer position?

  5. How a person should journal this experience? (I believe Maddux has some links on this one).

  6. Secrets to your success?

  7. What makes a volunteer really stand out above other premed volunteers?

  8. How a person would find these opportunities and any unique places that really wow? (In Washington State they love it when you have a 2nd language and work with the under served population in the medical field.) Please include any links for organizations.

  9. How many hours should be on your application?

  10. When should a person begin their volunteering? When would you quit doing your volunteer work?

    Thanks. I know OPM does a lot of personalized advice and it ends up in many different posts throughout. I thought this would be a great topic for our lurkers and newbies. Please feel free to add more questions or info that I didn’t add on top.


Very good points you brought up. While I dont think I can answer any of them, I have one more question to throw into the mix (specifically pertaining to your #1)

I’ve had different takes on what “volunteer work” is… I’m guessing that if it is considered “clinical volunteer work” then that is through a hospital where you have patient contact versus volunteering in an academic/mentorship setting which is what I had done. In my gut, however, I dont feel as though what I did was enough. Then again, I dont know… I’ve heard that clinical or not, volunteer experience is all under one umbrella as long as you are selflessly giving back to your community.

  • Kimberly_h Said:
10...When would you quit doing your volunteer work?

I've seen it expressed elsewhere -- perhaps SDN -- that volunteering should continue until acceptance. The point made was -- if it comes up during an interview, you want to be able to say that you're still doing volunteer work because you want to (and not because it's a check mark you're trying to clear on your application...)

Of course, YMMV.
  • Kimberly_h Said:
10. When should a person begin their volunteering? When would you quit doing your volunteer work?

Immediately and never.

I can't think of one physician I know that has stopped giving back to their respective communities - whether through religious organization, civic such as KoC/Rotary/ etc, Boy/Girl Scouts, or ???.

They may not have been "as" active during med school but I'm guessing they never "quit" volunteering...