Looking to stand out on your med school app? Clinical volunteer opportunities for pre-med students are one of the best ways to make a positive impression!
This post is all about clinical volunteer opportunities for medical school application.
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Clinical Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-Med Students
Getting hands-on clinical experience can be a major boost for your med school application. But it’s not just about ticking a box on your pre-med checklist as you aim to log in around 100 volunteer hours (this number varies from school to school).
Your volunteering experiences are so valuable. It’s a time to witness the real-life challenges and rewards of patient care, build your skills, and demonstrate your dedication to the field. Plus, this opportunity gives you the chance to learn from experienced professionals while making a difference in the lives of patients who need it most.
I personally volunteered as a surgery waiting room attendant, helper for a disabled radiologist and at a pediatric information desk and they have all been such meaningful experiences for me! I was exposed to the hospital atmosphere, got more confident in the contact with patients and learned so much about day-to-day life in a clinical setting. On top, this helped me to strengthen my personal “why medicine” and collect various stories that I was later able to integrate into different essays for my medical school application.
In my blog post AMCAS Work and Activities I show you how to add such volunteer experiences to your work and activity section as part of your primary application.
For more in-depth support on all these nitty gritty steps throughout your application cycle (which can be so overwhelming, I know!) I created my signature online course Road to Acceptance where I guide you through the ENTIRE application process. So that you know exactly what needs to be done each step along the way in order to maximize your chances of acceptance.
Are you ready to get started racking up those hours? Below, I’ve collected over 40 high-quality ideas for unique clinical volunteer opportunities for pre-med students. This list will help you discover incredible experiences that you’ll be excited to share on your med school application.
What exactly makes these opportunities “clinical” versus “non-clinical”?
Before we dive into the list of ideas, it’s important to know what I mean by “clinical volunteering.” These opportunities directly involve patient care and take place in a medical or healthcare environment. They provide you with an inside look at different medical specialties, expose you to various healthcare professionals, and give you a chance to interact with patients and their families. They offer a blend of education, observation, and, in some cases, hands-on involvement under supervision.
On the other hand, non-clinical volunteering doesn’t have to be related to medicine at all. For example, volunteering at an animal shelter, offering free tutoring sessions, or helping out at a soup kitchen. These activities can provide an enjoyable, much-needed break from studying. And while it’s not what we’ll be talking about here, they’re still a great way to show admissions committees that you’re more than just a pre-med student.
3 Quick Tips Before You Start Searching for Volunteer Options
Tip 1: Quality Over Quantity
Admissions committees value the quality over the amount of your volunteer work! So, rather than a long list of short-lived volunteer placements, seek out long-term volunteering projects that showcase that you’re willing to dedicate your time and maintain a commitment. Also, make it a priority to only take opportunities that align with your interests and long-term career goals.
Tip 2: Have Patience But Keep Going!
Let’s be real; you might not always snag the first spot you apply for. Sometimes, the volunteer positions are already filled, or you might not meet all the organization’s requirements. Don’t let that stop you – just apply somewhere else. There are so many opportunities out there just waiting for you. Keep an open mind, and you’ll find something you truly enjoy!
Tip 3: Make Sure They’re Legit
If it’s not a well-known established organization, save yourself from headaches and don’t accept a volunteering position unless you verify its legitimacy and ethics. Look for proper insurance coverage and ask about any required training or certifications.
Tip 4: See if They Fit Into Your Schedule
Every volunteer position comes with a different set of hours. If you are already within your med school application cycle or have other responsibilities that take up a lot of your time (e.g. studying for higher grades, preparing for the MCAT, family responsibilities) make sure you find an opportunity that fits your timeline and schedule.
If you are unsure about the upcoming tasks involved with your application to med school, I created a Free Timeline Overview to get full clarity on the dates and to-dos. This also includes a 12-month planner so you know exactly what you need to tackle each month. Enter your info below to download yours for free!
Where can I find high-quality clinical volunteer opportunities?
Searching for volunteering opportunities can feel super overwhelming – you’re probably thinking, “Where do I even begin?” Lucky for you, I’ve put together this long list of ideas!
- Start simple by setting up a meeting with your school’s pre-med or pre-health advisor. They usually have a list of volunteering options listed for your area.
- Also, ask around to find out where everyone else is volunteering and see if your friends can offer you a lead or a contact person.
- Look on other universities’ websites for listings of opportunities locally or abroad, such as the following:
Websites That Match You With Volunteer Opportunities
Check out these websites to help you find clinical volunteer opportunities. These platforms connect you with a wide range of options. You can easily discover volunteer openings from hospitals to community clinics.
If you’re eager to gain some real-world clinical experience, volunteering at your local hospital is a fantastic way to get started. Begin with online research to identify hospitals in your area and reach out to their volunteer services department either by phone or email.
- For example, on their website, the Johns Hopkins Pre-professional Advising Office has a section for Additional Research Opportunities that supplies a long list of opportunities.
- Check out the National Association for Advisors of the Health Professions for summer opportunities
Also, tailor your choice of department or type of hospital to your career path.
- Emergency room
- Psychiatric hospital
- Children’s hospital
- VA hospital
Look for clinics that serve underserved or low-income populations. They often need volunteers to help provide healthcare to those who can’t afford it. This is a great opportunity to work with diverse patients and address healthcare disparities.
Start by reaching out to medical clinics in your area, particularly those associated with academic institutions. They may have dedicated programs for aspiring medical professionals; some even have summer volunteer programs specifically geared toward students.
If you have a passion for medicine and humanitarian work, these programs could be your pathway to valuable clinical experience. Let’s take a look at some noteworthy non-profit organizations that you can consider.
- The American Red Cross offers a range of healthcare volunteer programs, from assisting with blood drives to supporting disaster response efforts, there are countless ways to get involved and contribute to their mission. Plus, it’s a chance to develop practical skills and expand your knowledge in the medical field.
- Doctors Without Borders operates in over 70 countries, delivering medical aid to populations in crisis. Their volunteer programs are especially sought after by healthcare professionals eager to work in challenging environments where their expertise can make a real impact.
- Direct Relief focuses on improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies by providing essential medical resources and care. They offer volunteer opportunities both domestically and globally, allowing individuals to participate in various medical missions and initiatives.
- Operation Smile is dedicated to providing free cleft lip and palate surgeries to children in need worldwide. This non-profit organization welcomes volunteers with medical and non-medical backgrounds, offering a chance to work alongside talented healthcare professionals and directly impact the lives of children.
- Remote Area Medical organizes mobile pop-up clinics throughout the states where they welcome volunteers with open arms to support them in giving free quality healthcare to those in need.
- NAF (National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics) offers a range of volunteer opportunities in their clinic setting which can include welcoming patients, interpreting, helping them navigate throughout the clinic, patient registration and more.
More worthwhile non-profits to look for volunteer opportunities
- The American Cancer Society
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – Be a HelpLine Volunteer
- Planned Parenthood
- American Public Health Association Internship
- The Trevor Project
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Volunteering in these places can give you a unique view of patient care and the challenges faced by older adults. You can assist with activities, provide companionship, or help with basic healthcare tasks while learning about geriatric medicine.
Volunteering in hospices lets you understand compassionate patient care and the challenges faced by those with terminal illnesses. It’s a valuable experience for anyone interested in palliative medicine.
Emergency Medical Services
Some cities have volunteer EMS organizations that respond to medical emergencies. If you’re interested in emergency medicine, you can join these programs to learn about pre-hospital care and emergency response.
Volunteering at homeless shelters gives you insight into the healthcare challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer to help with the following tasks.
- Healthcare screenings
- Distribute medical supplies
- Participate in health education initiatives
Clinical Research Studies
Some studies need volunteers to participate in clinical interventions or assessments. While it’s not direct patient care, this experience gives you insight into research methodologies, patient interaction, and evidence-based medicine. Look into Clinical Trials.gov to find volunteer opportunities.
Medical Mission Trips
Certain organizations offer trips to developing countries, where you’ll provide medical care to underserved communities while experiencing different healthcare systems and cultures.
Did you know that government agencies can be a goldmine for finding top-notch clinical volunteering opportunities? Whether it’s with local health departments or community clinics, these agencies often offer a variety of internships in the summer.
- CDC (Center for Disease Control)
- ASPR (Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response
- VA (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs)
One Last Thought on Clinical Volunteer Opportunities
As you decide on how you’ll get your volunteer hours, make sure you focus on making the most of your time. Clinical volunteering gets you out of the classroom and into the medical world – these opportunities help you develop your skills and show your dedication to a future in healthcare. Be selective and think long-term so you can boost your chances of success on your med school applications. You got this! You’re well on your way to becoming a compassionate and all-around phenomenal healthcare professional!