Not so long ago, I came across this article on social media: https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medical-school-admissions-doctor/articles/volunteer-activities-for-premed-students-during-coronavirus-outbreak. The article brings attention to the many needs that have manifested in communities during this pandemic and recommends students wanting to pursue the pre-medical path to engage in service activities… “which can then be included in medical applications.”
While the message this article delivers may be with good intention to encourage all pre-med students to serve those around them, I could not help but circle back to the first excerpt we read after training from “A Nazareth Manifesto” by Rev. Sam Wells. So often is volunteer work initiated for the sole purpose of “walk[ing] away with an experience you’ll be proud of,” rather than putting in effort to genuinely be with the people we work with. Of course, not all volunteers approach their service with this kind of mindset, but it takes a simple change of focus to veer towards the transactional route.
I certainly agree and cannot stress enough that service of any kind would be of help in a time like now, but I also believe that we’ve ought to note why we do what we do; we do not give only to take. For example, participation in an independent project has often been labeled an “internship,” but what I have experienced this summer is contrary to this seemingly one-way relationship with an organization. It is important to remember that we are not necessarily the “savior” or the “giver” — we are also the learner and the helped.