Hi everyone,
I would like info./input about volunteering.
Here are some of the questions I have.
1) How do you get started volunteering? I mean, do you call or walk in the front door of whereever you’re interested in and say you want to be a volunteer?
2) What is the norm for hours when you have a demanding class schedule?
3) What do you say when they ask you WHY you want to volunteer? (I’m sure you don’t want to say because it will look good when I apply to med school.) I need help with this one.
4) What are the general expectations of a volunteer at a clinic? (I already work as a surgical nurse, but I know squat about clinic pt. care.)
I really do want to volunteer in my community. I’m currently looking at a Women’s and Children Clinic which is very close to campus, it’s in a underserved urban environment.
Thank you for your input. And Good Luck to all who are facing finals.

Hi, Vita! I’m currently volunteering at Milwaukee Hospice. You fill out a volunteer info form and go to orientation and it’s okay for one of your reasons to be for med school. You can also say you want to learn more about clinical patient care (not as true in a hospice). If you’re interested in working with kids or families, or with underserved populations, that’s fine, too. One of my reasons for working with hospice was that nurses have told me that doctors often never really learn to deal with death or to accept it, so I wanted to do that now.
There was a volunteer at my hospice orientation who was a full-time nurse. She said she volunteered because she wanted to spend time with patients again. She pointed out that nurses don’t really get to do that anymore.
We are WAY overdue for coffee, you and I.

You have a great clinical EC to put on your application already in terms of your nursing job.
1. You can call or go into a place and ask to speak with the director of volunteers.
2. If you can do 3 to 4 hours per week, that would be great. If you show up at a place on a regular weekly schedule you should be able to get a great letter of recommendation from that place.
3. Depending on the type of place you want to be, they may already be very used to having pre-med students coming in, so I wouldn’t worry about telling them you are there to gain experience that would be helpful to your future medical career and that you intend on applying fo rmedical school. You will want a LOR from them so they will need to know sometime about your intentions.
4. This will depend on where you are and how much they use their volunteers. I volunteered at a free downtown health clinic that served the homeless, underinsured and non-insured, prostitutes, families with kids, etc… Since I was there on a regular basis I was trained to do a whole bunch of things that most of the volunteers didn’t do because they didn’t come in enough. I drew blood from patients and for HIV testing, gave shots, ran simple lab tests, checked in pats and took vitals, pregnancy counseling for women who just found out they were pregnant, trained all new volunteers, etc…
Most volunteers we got would show up in February and stay until June and then we would never see them again. They stayed just long enough to put it on their applications. Which is a big reason I think you should start volunteering early as a pre-med and stay at the same place as long as you can and come in weekly and in the summer.
Here is a link to free health clinics in the US
Good luck. You are one step ahead due to your nursing job. I would look for something non-clinical if you want, because you have a great clinical EC already.

Excellent input and advice, Denise and Amy. Thank you very much.