Question of the Week: Choosing Service Opportunities

Friday, Nov 2, 2018

Dear HPA: I did a lot of community service and volunteering in high school and I miss it. What are some of the popular service activities with prehealth students? Is there anything specific I should be looking for when I choose service activities?
It’s a good sign that you enjoy service and find fulfillment in it since all health professions involve serving others. A sustained commitment to service will provide evidence to admissions committees that you are motivated by serving others. More importantly, it will help you better reflect on the ways that you can best serve and help you understand the needs of diverse communities and individuals. Prehealth students have been involved with just about every service opportunity that you can find on this campus and the wider community (and sometimes they’ve created their own). What you choose could be based on many factors: the skills you want to use or develop; the populations you’d like to work with; the amount of time that you have (maybe an opportunity that meets at the same time every week works for you, or maybe it’s better to find something that you can mold around a more variable schedule, or seek classes with a built-in service component). It’s great to do as much patient-facing service as you can find time for (e.g., hospital/hospice/clinic volunteering; working at summer camps for children facing disease; EMTing). But, it can also be very valuable and meaningful for you to find other ways to serve that employ your skills (e.g., coaching Special Olympics athletes in your favorite sport, coaching a Trenton student on your instrument of choice with Trenton Youth Orchestra), or introduce you and let you connect with new populations (e.g., participating in the medical mission trip with the SPA 204 class, tutoring the GED for incarcerated individuals with Petey Greene, or providing companionship with an elderly resident of a local rehabilitation center with Creative Minds). Attending a “Find Your Pace Coffee Chat” will help you get started on identifying activities of interest, or participate in their “Field Guide to Service” to gain a fuller understanding of how to “do service well.”

QOTW in 2017: When to Start Thinking About Fellowships
QOTW in 2016: Freshman Seminars