MSHQ 083 : How One UF Premed Student is Changing Patient’s Lives

Session 83

In today's episode, Ryan talks with Alex Breslin, a premed student at the University of Florida studying Biology. He started the “Dream Team,” a nonprofit organization run by students where they volunteer with pediatric patients in the cardiac care unit at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Medical school application is highly competitive where it absolutely pays if you stand out, which Alex did by starting this Dream Team. Today, he shares with us why he started it, who he reached out to, and how all this inspiring endeavor came about. Providing 1500 hours a day, 6 days a week of volunteers, draw upon Alex' experiences and maybe you could start something similar at your campus, at your hospital.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Alex:

Alex's journey to medical school:

  • Shadowing a physician and seeing the compassion involved
  • Went on a medical mission trip in the Dominican Republic (He remembers sitting in the jungle and really feeling he was making a difference)
  • His decision on going to University of Florida
  • Getting advice from older students
  • Currently studying for the MCAT (Kaplan and Examkracker books)

How Alex conceived the Dream Team:

  • Becoming a Shands volunteer where you get to hang out with kids in the hospital
  • Spending time with one particular kid with brain cancer and understanding the need for bringing more students into the hospital to interact with the kids

What is the Dream Team?

  • Dream Team is a nonprofit organization that specializes in pediatric cardiology where they seek to brighten the experience of the current children in cardiac care by donating their time and attention to the kids.

Asking for help:

  • Setting the foundation of the future organization
  • The importance of networking (reached out to the physician he shadowed and other physicians in different pediatric units)

Getting the hospital involved and bringing in volunteers:

  • Tons of meetings (2-min elevator spiels)
  • Shout out to Ms. Chris Brown, the director of the Child Life Program (who has helped him tremendously)
  • Everything has to be very organized and fundamentally sound
  • Initially, they were given the ok signal to bring in 10 volunteers until eventually bringing in more volunteers

What is the Child Life Program?

Child Life deals with any volunteer specifically interacting with children (a subspecialty within Shands volunteer)

Recruiting the first ten volunteers:

  • Reaching out to the UF population through the internet (Facebook, emails, etc.)
  • Creating a solid Facebook page
  • Strict application cycle + interviews

Some pieces of advice for premed students who want to stand out:

  • Focus on embracing the journey you have as an undergrad rather than just the outcome.
  • Be involved in organizations and activities that are making a difference.

Links and Other Resources:

Dream Team UF

Dream Team UF Volunteer Application

Shands Child Life Program

Child Life Program

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