The Importance of Volunteer Work (and Giving Yourself Credit)

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” – Maya Angelou

This quote is what drives me to get out of bed each morning and make the world a little brighter each day.

14156394_175050002900219_2021125375_nAs the title above implies, volunteer work, even outside of medicine, is very important in one’s application to PA school (and medical school). Though some schools might not have it written out or it might seem like a small extra part to the application, volunteering within the community or abroad is very important to show your dedication to helping those in need. Plus, if you don’t do it, or don’t give yourself credit by adding it to your application, it will hurt your chances of getting an interview.

However, the most important thing is to do something you’re passionate about…and it DOESN’T HAVE TO BE RELATED TO MEDICINE! I’ve volunteered since I was old enough to collect canned food. Helping people and volunteering my time honestly just comes second nature, but it can be hard for some people to find time in their schedules.

“But it takes so much time and I have to study.”

…. Well, grades and GPA are 100% the most important thing. However, you want to show that you can be a well-rounded applicant that has had experiences learning to manage their time well. When I was the Community Service Board Member of my Pre-Med AMSA club I would try to have a lot of volunteer experiences in the beginning of the quarter before big tests. I would also put in my time over the weekends helping at the senior center, making Challah bread for the homeless, or manning a pit stop in a bike race. It was fun getting away from my desk for a bit and of course seeing the grateful faces of those on the receiving end of my volunteer work.

“But I don’t know where to find volunteer work near me?”

…. You’d be surprised how many projects are going on around you that are always in need of help. Volunteering at a hospital or clinic is fantastic experiences. However, I encourage all of you to branch out, test new waters, challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone because that’s how you will grow and to be honest, that is where you will get some of the most interesting stories to tell during your interviews. Ask your friends, get involved in a club, or even do a google search in the area to see what is going on. I would often email the senior center or keep in touch with a few soup kitchens. If you can’t find anything, you can even create and lead your own project. I helped create a blood drive at my school and we had over a hundred students that day to give blood. Talk about saving lives! You can also create care packages for soldiers, do a clothing, toy, or food drive and donate to a local church or homeless shelter. There are always ways to get involved. 🙂

Important Tip!

  • Keep track of your hours, who was in charge (i.e. managers, head honchos, etc.), and write down the date of when you started and ended. You have no idea how many times I had to enter this into applications!
  • Try to write down any funny stories, cool experiences, challenges, and what you gained or learned from the experiences. Think deeply! You’re going to thank you self for doing this TRUST ME!
  • Remember to give yourself credit. If you’re like me and doing these things is as easy as breathing, it is easy to brush it off and forget to add it to your application. (Umm. I did that with a few. 😦 ) It can be a big oops to forget to pat yourself on the back and write down that you have over 1500 hours of college age volunteer hours.

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Hope this little piece of advice helps in your path to medicine! Keep up the hard work guys! Stay tuned for more articles! If there’s an article you’d like to see please post below in the comments section! 🙂

Follow my journey and get email updates whenever I post a new article by signing up in the “Follow Me!” section.

– Megan 

#lifeinthegap #lifeasapremed

(PS Follow me on Instagram @nutmegs20)

 

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