Reader Question: Advocacy Work! ((by Sarah))

A delightful reader wrote to us, asking about advocacy work.  What it is, how to find it, and what types to do.  Thanks for the great question!

What it is.  According to NSGC, “Advocacy experiences are an important aspect of the application. Advocacy experiences usually allow the applicant to obtain training in interpersonal and communication skills as well as providing an opportunity to work with the public and people in a one-to-one setting.”
Examples would be volunteering at a rape crisis center or phone crisis line, at planned parenthood or a pregnancy center, at a free medical clinic (like a volunteers in medicine program), at a women’s shelter, or at a shelter or program developed to help people who are in poverty, disabled, or who have chronic disease, etc.  Places are always in need of volunteers and community support.
Experiences teach you many life lessons about how to work well with others while fostering communication skills.  Any experience volunteering in a health care setting would likely help in the application process.  Even jobs helping file medical records or volunteering as a patient scheduler would be beneficial.  ((granted I am not involved with who is accepted…. these are just things I or my classmates have done along the way!))
Where to find it. Try organizations in your local community, look to the yellow pages, local hospitals, and university voluntary service organizations.  The psychology department at my college had a outreach program and course for students interested in the medical field.
Do I need it? I believe programs require or strongly recommend some sort of advocacy.  This is because, as a GC, you need to know how to relate and advocate for the health and well being of the patients you see. Plus- it is always good to give back to the community where you live!
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