Many of our Accepted clients are asking how they can continue their volunteering given that many of their previous positions now only allow essential personnel in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ve put together the table below to help in your efforts to find new volunteering positions. If you know of other helpful links please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, so they can be included.
An important driver for a career in healthcare is a desire to help others. Typically, applicants to graduate healthcare programs have given of their time in both clinical and community settings. In my time on and chairing the University of Arizona College of Medicine Admissions Committee, I can’t remember accepting an applicant without clinical experience, and the preferred experience is one involving “face to face” interactions with patients.
Clinical experiences often include working with patients in hospice and eldercare facilities, as well as helping out in hospital settings. These can be very rewarding and formative experiences where you can truly help people. Unfortunately, nonessential personnel are now excluded from these positions because of the high risk of transferring SARS-CoV-2 to vulnerable patients. So where does this leave motivated pre-health students?
Many members of admissions committees across the country also want to see some form of community service in your resume. Examples include helping in a soup kitchen or with the homeless population. There is now all the more need for volunteers to help in these efforts, and in new efforts, such as in helping to distribute school lunches now that schools are closed. I suspect that admissions committees may be open to putting more weight on this kind of community service in lieu of the clinical experiences that no longer exist.
COVID-19 volunteer opportunities, by state
Another great opportunity to help right now is to volunteer for the crisis text line. I had a successful client last year for whom this was a significant experience, and I learned from him how deep this experience can be. There is a special need for this service now as people are socially isolated and anxious. Many people in need today feel much more comfortable in extended text conversations than in speaking on the phone. If you’re a texter, check out Crisis Text Line.
Don’t feel that you have to volunteer through an organization. You can just take the initiative to do good deeds. Do you know people in your neighborhood who need to have prescriptions or groceries picked up? If the weather is good, you might even arrange to socialize with them outside from 6 or more feet away. This can be a very lonely time, and you could really cheer someone up. Healthcare is fundamentally about human connection and caring. There are many, many ways to act on your good intentions.
America needs more healthcare workers now more than ever, and it is an excellent time to apply if you have your metrics in order. Do not allow all of your good extracurricular activities to lapse. You can bet that you will be asked in an interview, “What have you done to help out during the COVID crisis?”
Do you need help with your activities section, or any other section of your med school application? Accepted can help! Click here for more details.
Dr. Herman (Flash) Gordon Past Chair of Admissions at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He has an A.B. degree from Harvard College and a PhD from Caltech. His mission is to get applicants on track to success. Want Flash to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch.