Something all pre-health students know is that it is important to build a well-balanced resume during your undergraduate years. While academic success is crucial, it is important to illustrate to medical schools that there is more to you than your grades, and that you’re truly passionate about going into the field of medicine and helping those around you.
One of the best ways to show this is through hospital volunteering. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in the field of medicine, it is a great way to give back to your local community with your time and service. Several hospitals in Atlanta offer the opportunity to volunteer; however, the application process, which includes paperwork, background checks, and vaccinations, can take up to three months to complete before a student can even set foot into a hospital, which can often discourage peoples from applying.
Student Health Connections at Georgia Tech is changing that. Not only does the student organization cut the application process down to two weeks, but it also provides shuttling to and from the hospitals for those students lacking their own means. Established in 2007, the organization is closely involved with Grady Memorial Hospital and Atlanta Medical Center, two of the biggest hospitals in the downtown area. The officers running the program are constantly working to help Georgia Tech pre-health students get a foothold into the field of medicine.
This program has been growing since its inception and has established an esteemed reputation not only as a service organization at Georgia Tech, but also with health professionals all over Atlanta, which is what allows it to streamline the application process. In 2012, the program won an award as the best ongoing service project on campus, and it chooses its members carefully. Less than half of this year’s 140 applicants have ended up with a volunteering position.
“We want students who are dedicated to volunteering,” says SHC president Abhi Mehra. “We want students who will come back and show that they can represent Georgia Tech in a good light at these hospitals.”
Mehra, who is entering his second year as the president of SHC, started as a volunteer his freshman year. He learned a lot from being in the hospital, and got to interact with doctors as well as patients.
“I really learned from those doctors. A lot of those doctors are genuinely nice people. They’ll pull you aside and they’ll show you things about what’s going on, and they’re willing to teach you.”
Establishing these types of professional relationships is essential for pre-health students looking to get a leg-up in an increasingly competitive pool of medical school applicants. However, the application process shows that SHC is more than a resume boost.
“What we really want to see from students is that they want to give back to the community, and that it’s not necessarily for personal gains. We know you want to go into medicine but…you’re doing this job because you want to give back to the community.”
Once students are accepted into the program, they have the opportunity to volunteer in several different departments across their hospital of choice, including the emergency room, operating room, trauma center, and over fifty others. Each department gives students a window to explore a different side of the field of medicine.
Despite all of these benefits – the hours, the resume boost, and the hands-on experience – students can hope to gain much more from this program.
“You get to meet these doctors and reach out to people within the hospital setting…and almost all of them are really cool people that want to help you out. They understand that you’re taking time out of your day to help them…you learn to think on your feet, and you learn how to see what’s going on around you and adjust to it.”
The program hopes to expand not only in the size of its applicant pool but also its network of hospital involvement in the downtown Atlanta area. For Georgia Tech students, Student Hospital Connections is one of the best ways to get involved with the pre-health community on campus, and it will continue to do so for years to come.