The pandemic has disrupted so many areas of our lives. For premedical students and future medical school applicants, their plans to volunteer in the community–whether medically-related or otherwise–have been upended. Strict distancing measures have by necessity interrupted students’ plans to volunteer in the community. However, there are still ways to get involved; and medical schools will scrutinize applicants to see what actions they took to help others during a global pandemic.
Shadowing and Medical Experience
Shadowing in person has become very difficult to do, for obvious reasons. The same goes for volunteering in a hospital; many hospitals have barred volunteers. The one exception to this–and this is subject to change–has been some Veterans’ Affairs hospitals. Check your local VA hospital to see if they are accepting volunteers. This is obviously a fluid situation, which varies by location; in addition to the VA, check with other local hospitals to see if they are taking volunteers.
Some organizations have launched virtual shadowing, which can take different formats. For more information, check out Web Shadowers, the Heal Clinical Education Network and Virtual Shadowing, to name a few. I cannot personally vouch for these organizations since I have not used them but they do offer shadowing opportunities.
Medical schools’ secondary applications posed questions during this cycle about how the pandemic impacted applicants. Schools want to know how this affected you and also what actions you might have taken to have a positive effect on your community during a crisis. There are so many ways to help–from volunteering at a food pantry or Meals on Wheels or at a homeless shelter. The Crisis Text Line is another great organization that was taking volunteers early in the pandemic; check to see if they still need volunteers. And the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another potential organization where you could volunteer. Think about the needs in your local community and see what you can do to positively impact those around you during this crisis.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant