Can You Gain Clinical Experience Remotely?

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OPM 224: Can You Gain Clinical Experience Remotely?

Session 224

I’ve always said it’s considered clinical experience when you’re close enough to smell the patient, but what about remote counseling and similar opportunities? 

Our question today is from a student wondering about virtual or remote clinical experience. This was asked before the whole pandemic in the country in the world shutting down, but it’s really kind of fitting for what’s going on right now and some things that students are doing virtually.

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[01:36] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

I’m curious to see what others think about clinical experience that occurs virtually. I’ve volunteered with Crisis Textline for some time (even before I decided to go to med school). Basically, it is a non-profit service that handles crisis through text. I’ve helped people avoid suicide and discover resources that could change their entire situation. The experience can be quite personal, even from a distance.

Is this clinical experience? Should we still focus on the in person format for getting clinical experience? (Phlebotomy tech, for example) I plan to, but I have to admit that helping people virtually for a couple hours a week has benefits for a non-trad.

Thanks, Matt”

[02:24] Should It Be Counted?

Now a lot of students have been looking at and I have reached out during the pandemic and even before the pandemic saying, there’s a scribe position here that is a virtual scribe position. Is this something that I should look at? And my answer, typically to that is no, you should go and get in front of patients physically. Now, again, in the middle of a pandemic, everything changes and so go do whatever you can. 

I would say that crisis text lines and crisis phone lines are probably the only exceptions that I think are valuable experiences. 

I wouldn’t recommend relying on them as your only clinical experience. But I think they’re valuable as experiences. Because they are really impactful to people. And hopefully, that is impactful for you.

'All these things that you are doing, you're not doing it for the medical schools, you're doing it for you to prove to yourself that this is what you want to be doing.'Click To Tweet

[03:35] How to Evaluate Every Activity You’re Doing

Here’s a good question to ask yourself to help you evaluate whether an activity is worth putting in your application. 

“If it didn't count, if you couldn't put it on your application, would you still do it? That is how you should be thinking about every activity that you are doing.”Click To Tweet

So for Matt, if being part of this Crisis Text Line is impactful for you, and obviously, hopefully, it’s impactful for the people that you are texting people, saving lives, I think you should keep doing it.

Assuming that it’s not going to help you with your application, I highly recommend that you go and get in-person clinical experience. Now with that said, I would definitely include it as clinical experience on your application. 

Now we know this philosophy that you have to be close enough to smell the patient. But this is one of the exceptions to that rule. 


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