Question: I'm interested in volunteering an a hospital, and for a number of reasons, one of which I've had great experiences volunteering back in high school and I know I'd enjoy doing it again. Ideally, I'd like to volunteer with the pharmacy staff, but the hospitals I'm interested in have more formalized programs and don't offer positions close to pharmacy and they don't offer shadowing positions. My strategy is to network and hopefully create the pharmacy volunteering opportunity or at least make a connection for shadowing.
But in the worst case that this doesn't materialize, I'm still interested in volunteering. My question is, how do admissions committees value this type of experience? I know that an experience like this will be rewarding nonetheless, and I think I can leverage those experience in putting together my application. And the fact that these are highly-acclaimed hospitals doesn't hurt either =) But I also need to make sure that I'm fully optimizing my free time. Any thoughts? Thanks!
Note - I work full time and am still applying for prehealth-studies programs
Answer: I can only speak for myself on this, although I've sat in on enough meetings to have an opinion beyond my own. It has been my experience that any type of volunteering can be beneficial. It shows character and a willingness to give of oneself to help others - something every pharmacy school wants of it's students and graduates.
Having said that, volunteering at the animal shelter or something unrelated to health care won't gain you very much when a decision is being made. If you can show volunteer work at a hospital somewhere other than the pharmacy, I think it would help if you had a letter of recommendation from someone who supervised you. Otherwise, it's just something on the application that probably won't contribute much. Ideally, some pharmacy experience would be preferred if it is possible.
Ultimately, whether you have documented volunteerism or not will have very little say in the final analysis of your application. Good to have some? Sure. Better off using that time studying for the PCAT? Perhaps.
Hope that helps. Good luck.