Volunteering is often seen as merely the unofficial medical school requirement, but it is an unspoken requirement for many reasons. There are obvious reasons such as gaining medical experience, helping those less fortunate, experiencing a new culture, travel opportunities (if you volunteer abroad), and the chance to meet new people. Then there are the deeper reasons that you may have yet to consider.
Across the past two decades, research has uncovered a correlation between health and volunteering. The article, The Health Benefits Of Volunteering: A Review Of Recent Research compiles research findings and shares how deeply beneficial volunteering is to volunteers’ health. According to the compiled research, volunteers seem to have a lower mortality rate, lower depression rates in their senior years, and also greater functional ability.
Another interesting find is that there is a ‘volunteer threshold’. So in order to really benefit from volunteering you need to volunteer for a minimum of 40 hours per year. On the other hand, volunteering for more than 100 hours per year offers no extra health benefits.
However, it’s unlikely that your medical school board is leaning towards volunteers because they are happier and healthier people. Here are nine little considered reasons you should seek out medical student volunteer opportunities.
There’s so much that goes into the minutes before and after a doctor sees a patient, and it’s all important. Medical volunteer opportunities give you a good holistic picture of what it really means to be a medical professional.
You will be able to witness and have a deeper understanding of the relationship between doctors, nurses, administrators, and other healthcare professionals involved in the process. After witnessing these interactions first-hand, some of the theories in medical school will be more relatable to you. You will also have a deeper appreciation for the daily best practices and ethical practices the medical community adheres to through these medical volunteer opportunities.
Every year so many university students celebrate getting accepted into their dream program only to discover they have made a mistake. After a few university courses, they are filled with dread. They discover that medicine isn’t for them.
They may have applied for medical school thinking this is the ultimate opportunity to live their dream. This is the opportunity to be a superhero to those who need it most, they think. To top it off, they would be working in a revered field and making their family proud, they say. After a few classes though, they recognize that medicine isn’t for them.
Medical volunteer opportunities in the medical field expose you to some of the more gory parts of medicine. There’s the blood, the needles, the traumatic stories, and the long nights of work to contend with, but no one talks about these things.
Why? That’s because these things are a small price to pay for those who have found their passion in medicine. Otherwise, these experiences can be challenging, but pre-med student volunteer opportunities might help you to discover whether or not medicine is your ideal way of giving back. If you discover that it isn’t, there are still a myriad of ways to fulfill that dream.
One of the greatest parts of a medical volunteer opportunity is the people you meet. The doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals you meet may not be the exact same people you will work with in the future.
However, you will learn how to interact with medical professionals and about the different expectations among medical professionals. Pre-med student volunteer opportunities are excellent for this kind of exposure.
Taking on a medical volunteer opportunity will also give you the chance to learn and grow without the pressure of proving you know medicine during your practicum. Also, the healthcare professionals you meet will eventually become a part of your professional network. Knowing someone in Jamaica, Australia or Cuba may help you to join research initiatives and even save a patient’s life in the future.
A humble pre-med student volunteer makes a great healthcare professional. Medical school focuses on getting the highest grades and having all the right answers.
However, in the medical field, a doctor needs humility to connect with patients so they can better serve them. They also need humility to admit when they are wrong, need help, or need more information so they can give the best possible service.
Medical volunteer opportunities allow you to watch other professionals search for answers, collaborate, and simply be human beings with each other. This may motivate you to emulate them as a professional of the future. Taking advantage of a medical volunteer opportunity will help you learn about a doctor’s deeper reasons behind prioritizing the patient’s well-being over their desire to seem knowledgeable and capable. The experience from your medical volunteer opportunity may even inspire you to change the way you approach your studies and learning in general.
Having medical volunteer experience on your resume makes you much more appealing to recruiters. Looking at your resume, recruiters will know that you are not flakey and are willing to withstand pressure.
Volunteering teaches you how to face challenges and get along with others. Recruiters know you would have already experienced the real world and suspect that you understand the importance of sacrifice. With that understanding, you are already work ready and have the potential to be a great employee.
Medical volunteer opportunities also broaden the scope of your skills. You learn to be innovative and creative in your approach to problem solving. For these reasons, recruiters absolutely love volunteers.
In fact, Adweek published an article called the State of Recruitment in 2015, which reveals that recruiters are more interested in volunteer participation than personal appearance, political affiliation, and spelling and grammatical errors when considering a person’s social presence.
Medical volunteer opportunities sometimes present themselves beyond the English speaking community. This is an excellent opportunity to learn another language, and the benefits of a second language are far reaching. Not only is it a resume booster, but it’s also a gateway to experiencing another culture’s ideas and deepest ways of being. It is an opportunity to see the world through a different lens and those discoveries can be awe-inspiring and humbling.
Medical volunteer opportunities give you the chance to change the world by sharing a specialized skill. Taking on medical volunteer opportunities shows recruiters that you are an altruist. It communicates your genuine desire to create a better world.
This is a very appealing trait in students with healthcare aspirations. Having this trait increases the chances that you’re embarking on your career path because you genuinely care about people.
Wouldn’t you want to know that this is your doctor’s motivation? I definitely would.
Sometimes tasks as a premed student volunteer may seem small. However, though inviting a patient in to see a doctor or handing out lunch packets to volunteer workers may seem small, it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Whatever your role, volunteering gives you a chance to break the cycle of poverty. And, as a medical volunteer, you help to improve the health of those who can’t afford healthcare. Because of you, children and their families may have a better quality of life for many generations.
Medical volunteer opportunities expose volunteers to a wide variety of experiences. With these volunteer opportunities you will always find yourself exposed to insightful experiences that will change your outlook on life.
Medical volunteer opportunities abroad help you to see life beyond the tourist traps and experience parts of countries you won’t otherwise get to see.
You may find yourself doing anything from taking care of young children to conducting wildlife research. Wherever you are, you are poised for a profound experience. You get to dive in and see life through new eyes.
You may come away understanding:
No matter where you go, your life will be changed. For example, after volunteering to work with underprivileged and poor communities that travel miles for water, you can’t help but recognize some of your own concerns as trivial. After that experience, you’ll definitely come away with more mental fortitude and shed so many hidden stereotypes.
While shaping the future you would like to see while literally changing lives as a volunteer, medical volunteering opportunities are undeniably a gateway to adventures.
Volunteering is an incredibly fun way to meet new people, experience new cultural traditions, and just look at life from a new perspective.
You may find yourself island hopping and mountain climbing to reach remote communities that need support. There’s no doubt you will have an unforgettable experience that will stay with you all your life.
Medical volunteering offers a host of benefits to the volunteers and the supported communities. Wherever you find yourself you are poised to gain life-changing experiences that will improve your resume and inform your career as a clinician.
Taking advantage of medical volunteering opportunities as a pre-med or medical student will open you up to recognizing the many ways you can help others while directly and indirectly contributing to healthcare.
After learning about the day-to-day events that impact the health of your patients, you will be able to offer more holistic healthcare advice.
You will be able to meet your patients where they are and draw on the expertise of a large community of healthcare and other professionals. This network will only deepen your contribution to enriching their lives.
For this reason, volunteers offer special appeal to recruiters and medical school boards. They are seen as selfless, adaptable and grounded individuals with a real hope of making the world a better place.
At Jamaica International Projects, we arrange medical volunteer opportunities in Jamaica for pre-med students and doctors alike.
Join medical based projects in clinics, visit poor communities to perform medical outreach, or work with a specialist and their team to gain certified hours in the medical field.
No matter where you have found yourself volunteering as an aspiring healthcare professional, medical volunteer opportunities help shape your future while changing the lives of others. It is a rewarding experience that changes the life course of many suffering and in pain and lifts generations out of poverty.
As the new year approaches, consider adding taking on medical student volunteer opportunities abroad to your list of resolutions. Taking time out to help others may be just what you need to lift yourself out of that rut and help you to find your life path.