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Overseas Teaching vs. Volunteering at Hospital


Guest Hydeus

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Hey everyone, for the summer, i was thinking of going to Japan and teach English. However, my concern is that, if I do this for the summer, I will lose out on many opportunities to volunteer at a hospital or senior home. Is it a good idea for me to go to Japan? Or should i stay home and volunteer at the hospital or senior home instead? Thanks

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Hey everyone, for the summer, i was thinking of going to Japan and teach English. However, my concern is that, if I do this for the summer, I will lose out on many opportunities to volunteer at a hospital or senior home. Is it a good idea for me to go to Japan? Or should i stay home and volunteer at the hospital or senior home instead? Thanks

 

If I don't get into med this year, I might accept the offer from JET programme to teach in Japan for next year. So I'm in the same situation. Do you think it's worthwhile to teach in Japan?

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Medical schools look for well rounded applicants with a variety of experiences. Volunteering is one aspect which is important, however, this does not mean you need to be volunteering all the time and passing up on other opportunities that may present themselves. Volunteering at a hospital is usually pretty darn boring-it felt like putting in time to me, and from the looks on the faces of most kids I see volunteering in the hosptial now, they feel the same way. Contrast that with a summer spent learning real skills (teaching), and navigating a foreign culture independently.

 

As I approach residency interviews, my time spent teaching english overseas and the skills I learnt will continue to be something I talk about, just as I did in med school interviews. In contrast, volunteering in the ER and guiding people around hospitals are distant memories of time spent jumping through hoops that had little personal impact.

 

Just one opinion.

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Hey everyone, for the summer, i was thinking of going to Japan and teach English. However, my concern is that, if I do this for the summer, I will lose out on many opportunities to volunteer at a hospital or senior home. Is it a good idea for me to go to Japan? Or should i stay home and volunteer at the hospital or senior home instead? Thanks

 

Definitely go do the Japan thing. When are you applying to meds? Look at it this way, how many med school applicants have hospital volunteering on their ec list? how many have teaching english in Japan on their list. This will help you stick out from the crowd. Don't think twice, go to Japan!

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Sounds like the JET program is something you're passionate about, but you're apprehensive about not getting the hospital volunteer experience you feel you should get.

IMO..JET! Not only will the foreign travel experience help you mature and teach you new skills that only being in a new environment will teach, you may also network with new ppl who can introduce you to career paths or opportunities that you've never considered before. You can choose either option, but your enthusiasm for whatever you do will show through during your interviews and people will see that. =)

Best of luck with your decision!

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I am going to agree with everyone else. Look at the big picture here, hospital volunteering will always be there, but it is unlikely that you will always be in a position to take off to Japan. The older you get the harder it is to just book it across the globe. Things stand in your way, jobs, car payments, relationships etc. I am sure when you are a resident and your life is a hospital you will think of Japan fondly :)

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You could always volunteer internationally as well. I went and volunteered in a Tanzanian hospital for 5 weeks in 2007. It was a crazy experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I got to see first hand what the healthcare is like in Africa and learned about global health issues like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tb.

 

I got to spend some time in each ward of the hospital and assist however they needed. It was a great experience, but not for the faint of heart by any means.

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Yea dude - just think of it in terms of 'what you can do to maximize your chances of standing out in the crowd of applicants' - forget about what you really want to do man. Most people would jump on the chance to go abroad - so chances are, this is what you prefer anyway. To strengthen the case for Japan, this experience will make you stand out more and will actually be more beneficial to your application to meds - in other words, the hospital is like street hockey pads whereas the japan trip will be like ice hockey padding for your resume. So it's a no-brainer - the question is, are you ready to go abroad?

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There are lots of qualities you want to be able to show that you possess in your application. You will typically do this by referring to experiences that you had had. Three of these qualities are:

- community/charitable involvement

- extracurricular involvement

- understanding of our healthcare system and the life of a physician

 

Ideally, you want your application to speak to these three qualities. You want to have done some kind of volunteering and some kind of extracurricular. You MUST have had some kind of experience that gives you some insight into medicine sufficient to let you answer the question "How do you know you want to be a doctor?"

 

Volunteering at a hospital is very convenient way to hit all three of these things which is why so many premeds do it. On the other hand, it's not a particularly impressive or important way of hitting these things. Most people do it so it doesn't help you stand out. It's also typically pretty boring and unrewarding. (Not always! Some people have great experiences! But most don't, I think.)

 

So don't worry about "volunteering at a hospital". It isn't important. Worry instead about doing a variety of activities (that you enjoy and care about!) that will hit the various qualities that you need.

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