Volunteering (sorry for the double post)

*Note - I accidentally posted this (first) in the “Applying to Medical School” section, so I’m reposting it here … I apologize if that’s not the kosher thing to do, but I’m pretty sure I can’t change my post’s location. *

There was a post a couple of days ago from an OPMer looking for medically-related volunteering opportunities. I responded to that post with a few of ideas, but I wanted to share a few more details from my own volunteering experience, in case this strikes a chord with someone else. (And I figured it best to start my own thread.)

Like most pre-meds (trad or non-trad), I was looking for something where I could get some patient contact, as well as really make a difference. While I did look into a number of local hospital volunteering programs, in the end I decided to do something a little more … well … non-traditional.

So a few weeks ago, I started working as a medical Spanish translator at a free clinic in Chicago. And I absolutely love it. I’m not filing papers or running errands – I’m right there in the exam room for everything from psych evals to pap smears to routine physicals to diabetes check-ups. I have learned new medical terminology (both Spanish and English), as well as about various medical conditions, medications, dosing, etc. I have seen examples of how to positively interact with patients, and how to NOT interact with patients (or at least, how I am/am not going to interact with patients in the future). And most importantly, I’m really making a difference in people’s lives, helping empower them in their health care.

If there are any other Spanish speakers out there, or people who speak another language that is in demand in their community (for example, the clinic where I work also has Polish interpreters because there is a large Polish-speaking population nearby), I HIGHLY recommend this type of volunteer work. It’s valuable and important work (I think so, at least) and is also educational and personally rewarding.

OK, there’s my medical translating plug. Now I better start writing that physics lab report before the caffeine from the coffee I just drank wears off …

Looks like you are getting really good and relevant exposure. Sweet!