What are the chances?

You know from a lot of the posts I read here so far it looks like it’s pretty much a red light to being accepted if you don’t have clinical experience or hospital volunteer hours under your belt.
See, this is where I have a dilemma. I currently work full time at BS of CA during the day and then at night and on the weekends during the semester I also do school full time (last one was 13 units, this one will be 17 units), so how do they expect me to shadow a physician or volunteer at a hospital (especially when as someone said, hospital volunteer work where he lives consists of fetching the paper and making coffee) when I only have time leftover each day to sleep during the semester?
Maybe I’ll be able to start doing one or both of those once I’m at CSU Chico and just go to school full time but that may not be possible either since if I can get a night shift as a EMT since I plan to take the EMT basic course next semester, I’m going to so I don’t have to take out a massive amount of loans for school.
Do they even look at EMT as health care or clinical experience or will they claim it doesn’t qualify and shows nothing about me wanting to help heal people and save lives?

Hm. Let me try and clear this up. You CAN get into medical school without significant clinical experience, but if you don’t have clinical experience, you better have spent some quality time shadowing so that you can demonstrate to the adcom that you understand what being a doctor is like. If you actually work as an EMT, this does indeed count as clinical experience and can be viewed quite favorably. Becoming an EMT is currently quite fashionable among pre-meds, unfortunately, and not nearly as unique as it used to be. But, working as an EMT for a couple of years is definitely more significant than just taking the class (which a lot of pre-meds seem to do).
Volunteering does NOT have to be in a hospital. A lot of pre-meds do hospital volunteering to try and get clinical experience and volunteering out of the way at the same time. If you can gain clinical experience via EMS, then don’t worry about hospital volunteering. Volunteer for something you really enjoy and can talk passionately about.
I spent 7 years as an EMT (volunteer and paid), did NO hospital volunteering or shadowing. If I had to do it again, I would probably try and get some shadowing/time talking with physicians in, as this was the one thing that I got hounded about at EVERY interview. They all agreed that my clinical experience was impressive, but were concerned that I hadn’t spent enough time with physicians to gain a good understanding of what their life/career was like.
Amy

Well, thanks for responding Amy, that’s atleast encouraging. I honestly didn’t know you could shadow physicians, that I wouldn’t have any problem doing since I’m gaining relevant knowledge and it’s helping me, whereas if hospital volunteering isn’t directly involved in how doctors administer medicine it’s not relevant. If working as an EMT counts as clinical experience I should be set then, because I’m sure by the time I apply for med school I’ll have been an EMT for atleast a year or two.
I do like working at BS of CA, but I think once I finish my EMT class after I take it next Fall semester, I’m going to take the EMT certification exam right away and then start trying to get a job as an EMT. Especially if I work the night shifts, like I said I can go to school in the day while I do that at night, and I would just absolutely love to work as an EMT at some point before I become a doctor because my friend in Southern California is an EMT and hearing some of the stuff he’s done has just hooked me, I’d be damn proud to have that EMT badge whether if it’s as a volunteer (if I have another job at the time, gotta eat!) or I’m paid for it.
How do I go about shadowing a physician though? Do I just talk to one that me or a friend/family member knows and just say “hey, I’m taking pre-med, would it be alright if I shadowed you sometime so I can get some insight on what you do?”

I’ve had the same thought — about becoming (and working) as an EMT. Actually, the though of becoming an EMT/Paramedic came just prior to deciding to dive head into pre-med.
I volunteered in the ER at our local hospital for several months and although it was quite a bit more involved than fetching coffee and paper, I was quite dissatisfied with the amount of interaction with the physicians & nurses. I have since heard that it was mostly due to the specific facility rather than the position. I have been encouraged to seek volunteer ER work at the larger hospital next time (where they see more trauma and are much more appreciative of volunteers).
I have tried several routes to shadowing and have been very disapointed… it seems non of the local hospitals offer this and that you really need to know someone on a personal level to shadow. Is that everyone elses experience? I did find one FP who has offered to allow me to shadow in her office - 1-2 hrs a day (though it’s currently impossible with my work schedule). And yes - I just explained that I was pre-med and needed some insight for assurance and experience. I remember noticing that applicants to PA schools are needing 1000 hrs shadowing ---- how on earth does anyone acquire that?
Also, a couple of the faculty/physicians at UF inferred that they might allow me to shadow them. But I got the indication that they considered it a one-time-only stint, lasting no more than a few days. Is that considered shadowing? I always assumed that shadowing was meant for a longer period …

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I volunteered in the ER at our local hospital for several months and although it was quite a bit more involved than fetching coffee and paper, I was quite dissatisfied with the amount of interaction with the physicians & nurses. I have since heard that it was mostly due to the specific facility rather than the position. I have been encouraged to seek volunteer ER work at the larger hospital next time (where they see more trauma and are much more appreciative of volunteers).
I have tried several routes to shadowing and have been very disapointed… it seems non of the local hospitals offer this and that you really need to know someone on a personal level to shadow. Is that everyone elses experience? I did find one FP who has offered to allow me to shadow in her office - 1-2 hrs a day (though it’s currently impossible with my work schedule). And yes - I just explained that I was pre-med and needed some insight for assurance and experience. I remember noticing that applicants to PA schools are needing 1000 hrs shadowing ---- how on earth does anyone acquire that?
Also, a couple of the faculty/physicians at UF inferred that they might allow me to shadow them. But I got the indication that they considered it a one-time-only stint, lasting no more than a few days. Is that considered shadowing? I always assumed that shadowing was meant for a longer period …


Every hospital is different. If you’re not satisfied with the level of involvement at your current position, I would encourage you to shop around. I switched from one large teaching hospital in Boston to another one and had a dramatically different (and better) experience.
I’ve always thought of shadowing as a one-time deal, but I could be wrong. I can’t imagine that most physicians would really want someone hanging out with them for several hours a day. There’s the patients’ comfort level to consider; they’d have to ask each patient if they’re OK with you sitting in. Commonly, people shadow a physician for a day, or for an afternoon, or maybe for several days, and that’s it.
PA applicants need several hundred hours of medical-related work, be it volunteering or paid or shadowing. It comes from the PA origins as an accreditation path for Vietnam War medics who are already quite experienced but lacking in a traditional civilian medical degree.

Yeah I would imagine the only place in a hospital worth volunteering would be the ER because they don’t care about coffee/newspapers, the ER isn’t to make the patient comfortable which is what that does, it’s to keep them alive. I’ll have to look into that. I realize not many people have the advantage I do, but my stepdad is a very well known and respected dentist where I live so he knows pretty much everyone type of doctor in town through church or some other means, and lucky for me he also knows the hospital administrator of the hospital here, so I’m sure if there’s a way to get in to doing ER volunteer work I can get it.
I’ve been going to my family practice doctor for literally my entire life and I’m on friendly terms with so I suppose I could ask him, but I think their looking for shadowing a physician who works in a hospital so you see the clinical side of it. Plus it would be best for me to shadow an internal medicine doctor or a surgeon anyways since what I want to do is surgery.
That doesn’t surprise me though that most doctors don’t want anyone to shadow them, I’m sure their very busy already and they just don’t have time for that sort of thing.
The beauty of doing the EMT route sometime prior to getting the bachelor degree and applying to medical school is that if it’s considered clinical experience, there ya go on that, and you get to have a blast while you’re doing it and save some lives. And if the medical schools say no the first time around, as a side effect of getting a bachelor degree in biology, ya probably already have done anatomy and physiology so atleast here, the pre-reqs for the Paramedic program are already met. That’s what I think I’m going to do, get the EMT cert, work as an EMT while going to school then if they say no the first time around, I’ll apply to the Paramedic program and hopefully if I get in I’ll just get my EMT-P cert while I wait for round two.

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Yeah I would imagine the only place in a hospital worth volunteering would be the ER because they don’t care about coffee/newspapers, the ER isn’t to make the patient comfortable which is what that does, it’s to keep them alive. I’ll have to look into that. I realize not many people have the advantage I do, but my stepdad is a very well known and respected dentist where I live so he knows pretty much everyone type of doctor in town through church or some other means, and lucky for me he also knows the hospital administrator of the hospital here, so I’m sure if there’s a way to get in to doing ER volunteer work I can get it.


Not sure I’d agree with you on “only place in a hospital worth volunteering”. Volunteering (in my view) isn’t about being in the glamorous ER; it’s about showing that you care and you’re not just in it for the money. You can accomplish that in lots of ways, be it doling out soup in a homeless shelter, organizing after-school programs for inner city kids, or being a greeter/guide at the front desk of a large hospital.
There’s nothing glamorous about helping someone with a urine bag in a bathroom or taking someone’s vital signs for the umpteenth time or bringing someone a cup of coffee, two sugars one cream, but that’s precisely what volunteers are there to do. Volunteers do it because hospitals can’t afford to hire dozens or hundreds of patient assistants for such jobs.
Just my 2 cents’.

Well, when you work and go to school full time, the only time you have leftover if any at all in my opinion should be spent doing something that in your opinion makes a difference. That’s why I would rather be an EMT instead of work as a hospital volunteer if they both count as clinical experience, because my main goal which is why medicine interests me is to save lives, and the action associated with doing that is a bonus. Volunteering to help someone for anything is noble and it accomplishes good since it improves the quality of a person’s life, but if I’m going to spend my time doing medicine outside being a doctor, especially if it’s volunteer, I would rather do volunteer EMT work. Blood doesn’t phase me and people who are injured enough that they require medical attention need help right away. Right now I’d rather be the person in the ambulance helping them then.

I don’t want to make you upset but What “you think makes a difference” and what does make a difference is something subjective. Look many premeds volunteer for Hospice and that may be sitting with a dying pt., grocery shopping, getting a paper for the family ect.You will not save every life and you will see pts die that you came to know. There will be times that you can do nothing but comfort. I think what an MD really is,is some one who servs, service to our fellow man or women. Not just “saving lives” and I hope I’m seen as a humble servant as an MD.

Well, that’s why I specifically said makes a difference to me in my own opinion…everyone has different things they perceive as being helpful to others, most people perceive the same things as being helpful. What the difference is though is what everyone’s little niche is in helping others that they like to do. I don’t see how what I said in any way degrades any sort of volunteer work, and if it did that wasn’t my intention in the slightest. My point is simply that I personally would rather do EMT work for my own part.

First of all about the comment of fetching coffee/papers…that “might” be really helpful to some patients although you might not think so. Adcoms want to know that you somewhat are aware of what docs do on a daily basis and this can come either in the way of volunteering in a clinical setting where although you might do NOTHING relevant like hands-on type stuff (this is more the norm than not) you are still immersed in the environment and get to see what it might be like if you become a physician. Or you can shadow one doc, two doc whatever. So there are a couple of ways about doing this. Folks that work full time and go to school can manage to also do this, hence why getting in is getting more competitive each year. They squeeze in some time during weekends/holidays/school breaks it does NOT have to be thousands of hours! it can be 4 hrs/week or 20 hours during a break so long as you get a good feel of what this life might entail. Many medical schools on TOP of expecting clinical exposure also expect giving back to your community aka altruism in the form of volunteering in something meaningful that matters to you like big brother/big sis, habitat for humanity, red cross, etc…so there are a couple of things that “most” pre-meds embark on during this process. This does not mean that if you do not have one of these that you will not get in BUT the odds are stacked against you because the majority of folks ARE doing this trads and non-trads.

Alright, ya know what I would reply with yet another “I didn’t mean any disrespect” post but I think this is getting tiring since I’ve stated twice now that I’m simply voicing my own opinion and if everyone on here is obsessed with lashing out at others and trying to chew them out then it shows me a lot about the integrity and maturity of some of the people here, and it also shows me that my time is definitely going to be better spent elsewhere. What a waste.

Well sheesh Timmah you asked for opinions and you responded with more comments that provoked further opinions… if you DO hang around for awhile, you’ll find that we are direct with one another, we call 'em as we see ‘em, not to be disrespectful or tear someone down, but because all of us have at times benefitted from others’ viewpoints.
You’re more than a tad touchy about how you’re being viewed by others. None of the comments I read here sound like “lashing out” or “chewing out.” I’m sorry you are taking them that way. There are a lot of people with differing experiences and viewpoints … it can be tough to hear stuff that isn’t what you wanted to hear, but it doesn’t mean that people are beating you up.
I have some thoughts on your dilemma, but given how you’ve received the comments so far, I believe I’ll keep them to myself. Nevertheless, good luck to you.
Mary

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Alright, ya know what I would reply with yet another “I didn’t mean any disrespect” post but I think this is getting tiring since I’ve stated twice now that I’m simply voicing my own opinion and if everyone on here is obsessed with lashing out at others and trying to chew them out then it shows me a lot about the integrity and maturity of some of the people here, and it also shows me that my time is definitely going to be better spent elsewhere. What a waste.


Please don’t take offense, many of us have different prospectives on things and give opinions, they are not right or wrong here but are an attempt at sharing our thoughts and experiences with you.
I did not mean to be harsh but I do feel very strongly about a Doctor as: a Healer, a Listenter, and a friend. We will be there for the person regardless of what they have done or who likes / disslikes them, Hold their hand when when in pain, rejoice with them when a good outcome happens and feel bad when they Die.
As an MD I would have no problem doing anything for a Pt. within reason. (I have been an RN for 18 yrs though so I’m use to this).
Please take no offense and good luck.

This is why posting here sometimes is just blank pointles. Nobody here is lashing out but giving you the straight poop from those that are actually in medical school or done. So we are NOT blowing smoke up anyones arse we went throught the process and know what it might take. Sure these are opinions and those are as common as anal sphincters. If you ask for advice/suggestions that is what we will give you, but no we are not going to hold hands and sing kumbaya and tell you to do whatever that you will be fine. We are non-trads and give it straight up.

Yeah, Timmah, don’t take anything personally here. This is one of the very few forums out there that actually try to help you. But like efex said, you will not get any sugar-coated words of advice here. It will come straight and hard, but really, it’s for the best. When you get comforting words from everyone here, then you know you’re on the right track!
Don’t leave - just try to take criticism here a little better. If you can’t take it from us, an adcom will kill ya!

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They squeeze in some time during weekends/holidays/school breaks it does NOT have to be thousands of hours!


Thanks for the reminder “efex101”!! I just phoned the hospital I volunteered at over the summer and offered to help them out over the holidays. I’ve been really, really enjoying the time off (from school AND work), but I could certainly go into the ER for a couple 4 hr shifts over the weekend!!! Thanks again for the gentle nudge …

You are welcome! I remember how hard it was to try to fit in regular volunteering during the semester with exams/quizzes/you name it…I really took advantage of down times to squeeze in extra time and the hospital sure appreciated help…are you volunteering in a specific area or do you bounce around? I remember starting in the ED then going to surgery and then also oncology.

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Alright, ya know what I would reply with yet another “I didn’t mean any disrespect” post but I think this is getting tiring since I’ve stated twice now that I’m simply voicing my own opinion and if everyone on here is obsessed with lashing out at others and trying to chew them out then it shows me a lot about the integrity and maturity of some of the people here, and it also shows me that my time is definitely going to be better spent elsewhere. What a waste.


Hi there folks,
Do not feed this troll. Your precious time can be used elsewhere.
Natalie

hi fellow “older premeds”,





i had a similar concern as the OP. i am currently applying to md programs as a 30-yr old career switcher. i had zero science background and have spent the past 2-plus years taking science prerequisites, studying/taking the mcat, and volunteering, all the while trying to hold down my full-time job.





i have other extracurricular volunteering(mostly working with kids), but my only real long-term medical volunteer work is at the local children’s hospital for a year. i had to discontinue this for a while when i was studying for the mcat, and have now just begun volunteer work at another busy hospital, which is more community/outreach oriented.





i felt like this lack of experience is a weakness in my application, and wanted to send an update letter to med schools that i am applying to in hopes of further interview consideration. i thought this would help them see that i was taking continuous steps to expose myself to the medical environment and do some good community outreach.





when i posted this on another premed forum, one of the adcoms kind of blasted me for not having my ducks in a row and that busy adcoms do not sit around waiting for update letters from people like me that don’t have their t’s crossed and i’s dotted etc, and i should apply later when i have a more “complete” application… needless to say i was pretty discouraged. i don’t know how they can expect non-trad people who are short on time and money to be able to have 1000 hospital hours logged under their belt.





do you think most other adcoms at med schools would share this view? should i even send in such an update letter? would it even make a difference, or god forbid, looked upon negatively in some unexpected way?





thanks for any input, sorry for the long-winded post.