Involvement with professional volunteer projects entails dedicating unpaid time to the work, Dr. Marston acknowledges. Especially for those in academic medicine, she says there’s a real challenge involved with “figuring out which projects are underrecognized financially but may be valuable in other ways, and how to balance those activities against clinical responsibilities.”
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Yet volunteer work is “rewarding in ways that a paid job isn’t,” she says. The work offers different opportunities to build relationships with colleagues, as well as chances for personal growth. She calls herself “a much better educator and better educational leader” because of the volunteer projects she’s worked on. Another factor in her motivation to volunteer: the desire “to leave something better than you found it.”
Gretchen Henkel is a health and medical journalist based in California.