In today’s episode, I talk with Alex Breslin, a premed student at the University of Florida studying biology. He started the UF 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.
Applying to medical school is highly competitive, so it absolutely pays if you stand out, which Alex did by starting the Dream Team at UF. Today, he shares with us why he started it, who he reached out to, and how this inspiring endeavor came about. Providing 1,500 hours a day, 6 days a week of volunteers, drawing upon Alex’ experiences and maybe you could start something similar at your campus, at your hospital.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
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 of the UF 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 at UF?
- The Dream Team at UF 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 with the Dream Team:
- 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 for the UF Dream Team:
- 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 a premed rather than just the outcome.
- Be involved in organizations and activities that are making a difference.
Links and Other Resources:
- Dream Team UF Facebook page.
- Related episode: Entrepreneurial Premed Stands Out for the Ivys.
- Related episode: The One Thing You Need to Do to Stand Out as a Premed!
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