Working or volunteering in medically related areas will help you gain a better understanding of medicine and healthcare practice, while demonstrating that you not only have a passion for your chosen health profession, but also have a concern for your community. Volunteering is an indication of your ability to give of yourself to other individuals, especially those who might be educationally or economically disadvantaged. Community service will also increase your cultural competence, a definite asset in our diverse (global) medical practice environment.
When you apply to any health profession school, admission officers will assess your experiences according to various criteria, including length of time, depth of experience and lessons learned. In general, quality is more important than quantity. Although useful, short-term experiences such as day-long blood drives or fund raising activities for a worthy cause may be considered less enlightening than semester-long commitments. Similarly, if you are planning to go abroad for a short-term international service trip, be sure to balance that experience with sustained involvement with local organizations here in the U.S. One week on an alternative spring break is no replacement for one or more semesters spent volunteering in a local free clinic, hospital, hospice, rehabilitation center or nursing home. If you are contemplating participating in clinical and patient-oriented experiences abroad, see the following basic recommendations and consider taking this free online workshop--GAPS, sponsored by the University of Minnesota, which will offer you tools and advice for how to get the most of your experience abroad, without stepping beyond your qualifications and expertise.
NOTE: Engaging in clinical, hands-on activities for which no appropriate training or supervision is provided not only is neither ethical nor legal, but it may also jeopardize your candidacy at health profession schools since your ethics and judgment will be questioned.
We recommend that you keep a journal of your experiences and reflections.
See the list of volunteering and employment resources to help you identify medically-related experiences (both on a volunteer and employment basis) in the Ann Arbor area and beyond.