Tips for Finding and Choosing the Right Healthcare Volunteer OpportunitiesJune 20, 2013
Does volunteering in a health care related environment help in any way? Yes, it does.
While volunteering by its very nature means you won’t make any money from the exercise, it offers you a few benefits that no amount of money could replace:
-It offers an invaluable insight into the career and an opportunity for you to reflect on whether this is the right profession for you.
-It gives your medical school application a tremendous boost. Interviewers see this as a sign that you are serious about becoming a doctor, nurse, midwife or dentist.
-It gives you lots of opportunities to network with like-minded peers. You will be surprised how much you can learn from fellow students or aspiring healthcare professionals.
-It really helps you build your resume.
So where do you start with finding the appropriate opportunities?
The best place to start if you are still in school is to talk to your academic advisor. Many schools also have an office of community services that keep an extensive database of volunteer opportunities. Keeping abreast of student activities on campus and joining pre-med or service clubs also helps keep you in the loop about new opportunities and other resources. Several hospitals, charities, clinics, research facilities and labs often advertise volunteer opportunities on their websites. The only way to find something is to explore all the various prospects that are available to you.
Which Volunteer Experience Should You Choose?
You may find that once you start looking, there are several medical related volunteer opportunities that you can choose from. How do you know which one will be best for you?
The truth is, there is no way to know until after you’ve actually spent some time with the organization. Different students have different experiences so it is almost impossible to base your decisions on somebody else’s experience. The best way to go about it is to shortlist those opportunities that you are genuinely interested in so that you are more likely to stick with it and learn from it.
It could be that after you’ve joined up, you find that you perhaps made the wrong choice. This is not an area that you would like to take up as your specialty. It’s okay. You’ll never know until you try it. You can still go back and look for another opportunity. Look at it this way – isn’t it better that you found out now rather than after you had spent years qualifying for that specialty? There is a huge difference between what you think you would like to do and actually doing that every day, and this is the best way to identify your likes and dislikes; your strengths and weaknesses. For example: you may have always thought you would end up caring for the aged but during the course of volunteering you may find that your strengths and your preferences lean more towards caring after newborn babies.
So how can Gap Medics help?
Gap Medics offer short-term programs in Tanzania, Czech Republic and Thailand where students can undertake placements in pre-medicine, pre-nursing, pre-midwifery and pre-dentistry. These placements are designed to give students an insight into the work of healthcare professionals before they begin their clinical training. Students will gain that beneficial experience to help them with university applications and interviews, or simply give them an insight into whether this is the career route they wish to go down before dedicating themselves to years of study.
Not only will you come home brimming with experience, but you really will have had the opportunity to make it the trip of a lifetime. Safaris, trekking through the jungle on the back of an elephant, swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, learning all about the local cultures and traditions – what more could you want?
To find out more about Gap Medics and the placements available to you, just click here.