What if I Don’t Have Time for Volunteer Experiences?

Session 133

Today, our student is worried about a secondary question asking about volunteer healthcare experiences. This nontrad works in healthcare, but is a mom and struggling to find time to “volunteer” and get the “healthcare volunteer” experiences.

If you have questions answered here on the podcast, check out the Nontrad Premed Forum and register for an account.

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

I’m a nontraditional student, married with three kids, working full time as a pathology assistant for the past three years. I have a long list of healthcare-related experiences, but all of them were “paid” employment. As I was providing for a family at a time with the exception of shadowing, which I don’t count as healthcare volunteering.

I’ve got a secondary application from a DO school and a specific essay question asks to list and describe the significant “healthcare-related volunteer” experiences that I have. How should I go about answering this question since I technically don’t have any.

Would it be wise to simply state that though I have a litany of experience in a clinical and/or hospital and healthcare setting, due to my family obligations and other responsibility, all of these were paid experiences? And as such, I don’t have volunteer experience in these settings. Or should I take the approach of describing other types of volunteer experiences I have even if not clinical or medical?

Also, I applied to 46 total schools – MD, DO, and Caribbean – and I’m finding that many of the secondary questions are quite repetitive. Would I continue to keep my responses brief and to the point and simply recycle them while ensuring that I actually answer the question?”

[02:25] Healthcare Volunteering: Just Answer the Question

Write your extracurriculars in your secondaries all your experiences. And the fact they’re asking questions already answered in the primary application, is honestly wasted time. Nevertheless, if you’re providing for your family and if you don’t have time to add onto your healthcare experiences since you’re already working in healthcare, then answer the question this way.

Say that as a nontraditional student, you have these experiences but you have not had the time to volunteer outside of all the other healthcare experiences you’re already getting. Then explain a bit about what you are doing, preface it with you knowing that it’s not volunteering but you’re a nontraditional student.

Answer the question. Don’t not answer the question by throwing in non healthcare-related volunteer stuff. Simply put, you can just say, that you don’t have health care volunteering since you work in healthcare and you have a family to support. This said, you don’t have time for extra healthcare experience. This should be completely fine.

They may look at it unsatisfactorily and throw your application out. But you don’t know how they’re going to look at your application. So you can’t worry about it. Therefore, go right ahead and answer the question in front of you. Again, preface it by saying you don’t have extra time to volunteer and just move on to the next question.

[05:30] Writing Multiple Secondaries, Answering Repetitive Questions

After about 5 secondary applications, you’re starting to get repetitive and the questions start to look the same. They seem to all ask you if you haven’t taken a break or what diversity you can bring to the class. The one question they ask that’s different for every school is why you want to go there. Again, answer the question.

There’s a lot of cutting and pasting that goes on. Be very, very , very careful as you cut and paste to make sure that you’re not cutting and pasting names of schools. So use that cautiously.

As long as the answer you have is really answering the question they’re asking and the next school that asks it is asking the same question, then go ahead. However, don’t just glance at the question and think it’s the same one as before. The last thing you want is to find out it wasn’t the real root of the question after all and you end up not answering it appropriately.


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