Medicine is a profession based on selfless service to others. Medical schools will want to know that you are genuinely motivated to help others, especially the underserved and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. There are many things you can gain - good communication skills, knowledge of people and confidence in working with them, ability to work with a team, leadership, organization, and knowledge of social issues that impact well-being. At the time of application to medical school, you will need to list, describe and reflect on the most meaningful of your service activities.
There are many opportunities available at Duke as well as in your hometown and elsewhere. For instance, you might tutor disadvantaged youths or children in local schools; work in English-as-a-Second-Language programs, be a big sister/brother, volunteer in camps for the handicapped or in programs that assist immigrants, migrant workers or deal with issues of social justice. Choose activities that are important to you as an individual. A long-term, sincere, and deep commitment to one or two activities is better than a long list of things in which you are only superficially interested or which you “picked up” just prior to the application process. When you find a service activity that is meaningful to you, continue it if possible.