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In what ways can you get yourself involved in a hospital setting during COVID?

Hello! I am Haylee and currently a first year student majoring in Health Sciences. I want to either become and Occupational Therapist in the pediatrics department or a Speech Pathologist! I want to start becoming more involved within the medical field so I can have more experience and get my foot into the door for my career! If you have any information or recommendations, I would love to hear it! health

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Kelly’s Answer

Hello! I got my foot into the health care arena while going through pre-med undergrad studies. I hit it a number of different ways:
- Got a work study job at an HMO helping to triage urgent care appointment requests - making the call whether it might be something a nurse could help with over the phone without requiring the patient to come into urgent care. Working at the HMO was a great way to understand all the departments and their roles within the health care system.
- Got my Nursing Assistant certificate and worked at a nursing home one summer break then, during the school year, used that certificate to be an ER Tech at a hospital assisting the clinicians however they saw fit.
- Volunteered for a medical mission trip to Kenya where the presiding doctors trained us to give injections, treat scabies, fill prescriptions, and provide basic first aid.
- Got summer jobs working in retail optics and in an optometrist's office.

All these experiences gave me a wide variety of experience and exposure to help me not only show my passion for health care once I finished school, but to also help me hone in on what I really wanted to do within the health care space.

Sounds like you're on the right track with thinking creatively about how to get experience while you're learning formally.

Kelly recommends the following next steps:

Work with your university to find work study or internship opportunities in the health care arena, even if in an administrative capacity.
Volunteer for a health care organization or charity.
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Michael’s Answer

As an advisor, I am backing up what Kelly and K's responses 100%. The biggest thing is always use your college's career center, your advisor and definitely your Dean/Chairperson of the science department. Many students in their freshmen year find it easier to to get in as a volunteer. Most organization are very open to students in that capacity because they can use the extra help while you get what you need. Once you are able to get started in which ever way, don't hesitate to write your it in your portfolio as a college student ( this is like a resume for a job). Keep that portfolio updated because it will make it easier to get hired and it can help with more scholarship. Especially when you volunteer with an organization because most are happy to be a scholarship participant for your education.
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K’s Answer

Hi there! This is just a thought based on the outreach we've done as a health care company and while it's not a hospital setting, it's something that could bring you valuable experience as well as really help a vulnerable population truly impacted by the pandemic. Depending on your state regulations, you might be able to volunteer at a local nursing home or assisted living facility. They typically also have OT and ST, but of course, not at the pediatric level you might be interested in. All the same, this population has endured much hardship during the pandemic; increased isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety, separation from family, friends and onsite/offsite activities. It might be a wonderful, reciprocal opportunity for you both to explore. Best wishes!
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Mary Jane’s Answer

It is going to be extremely challenging right now with COVID because so many medical centers are strictly limiting access to protect patients. You can try calling volunteer offices (most hospitals have one) to see if they are allowing volunteers or job shadowing, but largely we are seeing in-person volunteering and shadowing halted for the pandemic. This should improve as more people become vaccinated and case rates drop -- cases are currently on the rise in many areas with the more transmissible UK variant, so it may be later in the summer or next fall before offices are willing to let you volunteer or observe.

My recommendation for now would be to reach out to OTs and SLPs in your area to see if they are allowing shadowing and if not, whether they are willing to do informational interviews with you. That allows you to learn about their profession and training even if you can't observe. If the K-12 schools are open in your area, there may be opportunities to shadow professionals who are working in the school system.

I also recommend you reach out to the pre-health advisor on your campus. They may have alumni in your fields of interest who are willing to talk with you or they may have insight into what's happening locally with shadowing. If you go the OT route, you will definitely need observation hours in order to apply to graduate programs--ideally observing in several different settings and with several different age groups/patient populations. Establishing a relationship with the pre-health advising office will give you access to information and resources to maximize your success. If you don't have a pre-health advisor on campus, you can visit the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions Find an Advisor site to be matched with an advisor: https://www.naahp.org/student-resources/find-an-advisor
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Tequila’s Answer

Hello Haylee,
VOLUNTEERISM. Most hospitals have a volunteer department.
The big issue is how restrictive they are during the pandemic. If they require only personal protective equipment, then they will supply what you need. If it's more like having to take the vaccine first, then you have to do that.
Otherwise, inquire and see what the hospitals require you to do to protect you from acquiring COVID.

Best wishes in your continued endeavors.
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