Sunday, February 21, 2010

Got Volunteerism?

A few weeks ago, a young student just having decided to try and apply to medical school asked the medical school symposium members when he should start volunteering.

I was slightly aghast.

Start volunteering?

To me, volunteering and/or giving back to the community is not something one does to fulfill a check mark on an application for med school, it is something one does because it is something one feels compelled to do. I think the med school adcoms probably see beyond the check mark mentality and I would hope, subsequently, give far less credit for it on an app than those who truly give of themselves.

My own volunteering started when I was about 9. My parents were heavily involved in our local church whose philosophy was give unto others as that group had so much to give.

It started out with used dresses to very sick girls in the terminal ward at the hospital. There were no hospice care facilities so these young daughters stayed in hospitals until their death. Any small token of happiness was greatly appreciated by them, and their parents. My parents made sure I was part of that.

From the young women getting dresses, my young life took me into being a vacation Bible school teacher for the church in the summer, and then into serving the poor as part of Job's Daughters operating mantra. By the age of 15, I had been well entrenched in giving back.

In high school there was not a lot available to help in rural North Dakota. So, I took care of others people's dogs while they were on vacation, mowed their lawns, and helped build a camp for recovering youth.

Later, in college, I joined the national service sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma which had the sole purpose of service to others and service to the community. My wild side in college was always prevalent but even then, I volunteered (hung over or not!!) to help the elderly, those with various health challenges, and sometimes, just those needing a good hug.

As I moved into my "real" adulthood, volunteering took many other forms: helping inner city kids forget their horrendous lives if only for a day, gathering up shoes for kids with cleft palates in foreign countries, training a therapy dog for cancer patients, and now, I'm applying to work in hospice care facility.

For those of you reading this as pre-meds, I am hoping what you gather is that the time to act and help is now. Don't wait until you are close to applying, help now and make it part of who you are.

Read that again:

make it a part of WHO you are, not something that you do

In tribute to one of the greatest celebs that I've had the pleasure to meet and become acquainted with, a man who you will NEVER hear how much he gives:

1 comment:

ForeverRhonda said...

I agree with you 200%! Volunteering and helping others is something everyone should do...regardless of how it helps them. That is not the point of it all.