Volunteering weighed against my goal of rural medicine

I live in a rural area, an hour away from the nearest population of 8,000 and two hours away from any notable city.

I commute to the city during the week to go to school and then home on the weekends and vacations to see my wife.

This works out fine, but it leaves very little time for volunteering. Even if I had extra time, the distance I live from volunteer opportunities makes timing nearly unworkable.

But, I live in a rural area and (unsurprisingly) want to be a rural doctor, which means every step I am taking eventually serves my community.

So, the question is: will that logic hold with admissions people, or is this just a check-box than must be checked whether it makes any sense or not?

I just don’t see myself ever finding the time to do any serious volunteering while going to school

Well, what about internships?

I will very likely be doing research the next two summers, as I am in honors microbiology, but I am under the impression that is not interchangeable with volunteer work.

Academics should always come first. As long as you can plausibly and realistically explain why are pursuing medicine, then I wouldn’t worry so much about volunteering because understandably most of your free time is being eaten away by your commute.

Bill you might try contacting some medical schools that you are interested in attending and asking what they like to see in their successful candidates. Rural medicine is a less traveled road these days and anyone who expresses interest is going to be a hot property. I can’t see you having too much difficulty getting into a program regardless of your volunteer experience.

Bill, what have you done in past lives/experiences? Have you done volunteering or community service of some sort? You need to have enough exposure to medicine to demonstrate that you know what you are getting into, and it does NOT need to be volunteering. You need to have some sort of community service to demonstrate that you really are interested in helping other people. So if your life story demonstrates a commitment to serve others in some way, AND you can show that you have a grounded notion of reality in medicine (i.e. you don’t want to be a doctor because ER was a cool show), don’t sweat the current-volunteering-medi cal-experience notion.


Well, this will expose the reason for my concern.

I’ve never volunteered for anything in my life. I’m a “workaholic.” I do one thing at a time, for years at a time, with no desire to divide my attention. Volunteering has never been compatible with my obsessive nature.

I dropped out of high school at 16 and worked in IT for sixteen years, eventually moving into management and living in several different countries.

My grandfather was a surgeon and encouraged me toward medicine, so I have some exposure to the field, but not by my own hands. (Although I am not concerned that I have an inaccurate idea of what I am getting into.)

Frankly, I don’t understand how volunteering is relevant to becoming a doctor. Doctors get paid for their work. The “volunteering” they do is in the form of putting their lives on hold for years in order to develop the skills their communities need. Having left a very high-paying career behind to embark on a journey of 9 years in school and 3 or more in residency would seem to be to be an adequate indication of commitment.

But, if I’m way off in my assessment and I need to show that I love to do unskilled volunteer work in order to be a doctor, I’d better jump on it ASAP, given my nonexistent track-record of selfless acts.