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Volunteering

One of the biggest traps applicants fall into is treating volunteering as a tick-box activity for their UCAS application. Instead, the Medology Way of approaching it is as a chance to start moulding yourself into a mini-healthcare professional from now, before you’ve even submitted your medical/dental application!

What’s the point? 🤔

As humans, we are built with a battery of effort we can exert into anything in life. Getting into medicine/dentistry, and the application process, already takes a lot out of you, but people also waste time because they often over- or under-compensate with voluntary work.

Let’s talk about the intention to approach your volunteering with, and how much time you should be committing to it!

  • Volunteering lets you grow – interacting with new people is going to be part and parcel of your future career so building these skills early on puts you in a good position compared to your competition.
  • You don’t need loads – you don’t need to, and you shouldn’t take up every opportunity under the sun. Remember the principle… Quality over quantity. We’d advise committing to 1 (or 2 at a stretch) activities that you take part in over the course of a year.
  • Immerse yourself in it – start your volunteering with the intention of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and taking on the tough roles and conversations. You’ll learn to deal with new challenging situations which shows true character growth!
  • No such thing as ‘best’ volunteering – “universities aren’t looking for you to do one specific type of volunteering”, it’s true! So just do what you enjoy! Even something as simple as helping a neighbour out on a regular basis counts as altruistic work you know 😊

Consistency is 🔑

Just like anything in life, you’re only going to reap the benefits of volunteering if it’s done regularly, over time. Character development doesn’t happen in the snap of two fingers – just like Rome wasn’t built in a day :)

Make sure your volunteering is manageable

Fit your volunteering into your schedule. One or two hours a week is perfect and that way it shouldn’t affect any other duties you’ll have, like studying. One thing that some of the Medology Team did was schedule their volunteering during free periods at school. Try this if your school allows it!

Learn to enjoy your volunteering!

If your volunteering is something you genuinely look forward to, you’re going to get so much out of it. Imagine if it felt like a chore… you’d hate turning up, rush through tasks and that’s wasting everyone’s time (including your own).

One tip from us is to treat it like a bit of a game. Actively adopt the mindset where you’re hunting for opportunities to show-off new skills. Keep adding new experiences to your notes – kind of like XP point farming for those of you who are hardcore gamers 😎

During your volunteering 🧘🏼‍♂️

The most important thing we’ll say in this whole guide: keep a reflective journal.

Sure Medology, “BUT WHAT DO I DO WITH THAT?!”. Relax, we’ll break it down into 4 steps.

  1. Decide where you want to keep your reflections – a physical diary, app notes on your phone, Notion? Anything goes :)
  2. Tell yourself… ‘each week, straight after my volunteering, I’ll spend 10 minutes writing up how my volunteering went, noting down the most significant events that went down’
  3. Now reflect. Think about what new lessons the events in step 2 taught you about your behaviours / the caring environment you were a part ofAnswer questions like ‘what went well?’, and ‘what could have gone better?’ → these will probe you to think about the qualities you’re building
  4. Do this consistently and you’ll definitely see progress. Remember, volunteering is like an investment. The more effort you invest, the stronger ammunition you hold to smash your personal statement and interviews later down the line 👀

The opportunities out there 👀

Let’s be honest, this is what you really came here to read about. Let’s spill the beans!

So, what sort of tangible opportunities are out there that you can start FROM TODAY?

But to be honest guys, before we get into it, understand one thing. If you’re just going to take up volunteering for your medicine/dentistry application, then you won’t properly enjoy it, or gain the most skills etc. Pick something you’d do almost for fun!

  • Fundraising – you know, a bunch of us on the Medology Team did one together in Y12 called ‘Pink Week’ to raise awareness on breast cancer! The money we raised didn’t just contribute towards a good cause, but we learnt lots about effective team working on this project too! There’s loads of potential to fundraise – just partner up with a reliable charity that supports the cause you’re passionate about
  • Telephone befriending – Charities such as AgeUK and 7 Cups offer opportunities for you to emotionally support people in vulnerable situations over the phone. This is a great way to develop your communication and empathy in a way you’ve probably not thought about before!
  • Become a teacher – you guys are all academically gifted. It’s the age of scaling your talent up and passing on your wealth of knowledge! Pick your strongest GCSE subject and become a tutor or peer mentor for someone who struggles with that subject. Not only is teaching incredibly rewarding, it builds lots of skills that are transferable to Medicine/Dentistry
  • Get into a care home – the old, but gold classic. Here you can converse with elderly residents living with loneliness, dementia hearing disabilities, terminal illnesses and much more. You’ll be able to support people who may be physically and/or mentally frail. It’s challenging, but a truly humbling opportunity to add light to someone’s life!
  • Charity shop assistant – this is basically experience in a retail setting. It forces you to work as part of a bigger team and meet people from all walks of life. It’s a glimpse into the ways of the working world 😄
  • St John’s Ambulance – a very helpful organisation. They offer a variety of roles that will get you working in teams and develop a holistic understanding of healthcare and first aid skills
  • Do-it.org – if you’re still stuck for volunteering, this is the ultimate cheat sheet. It’s a government approved website for people interested in volunteering, and shows you plenty of options in your local viscinity.

Now remember, you can make your own opportunities too! Exercise your creative freedom and give back to your community however possible.

Last year, the Medology alumni went as far as making care packages for the homeless on the streets. It just goes to show, anything counts 😉

Hopefully you feel more aware, reassured and positive now. The challenge is now in your hands to find yourself that first (or maybe second) volunteering placement and have those experiences ready for your UCAS application 😃

Thank you for reading guys, and peace out ✌🏼