Volunteering: an Assessment of the Motivation among Medical Students and the Experience in the Project “Caring for Your Health in Ponto dos Volantes, Jequitinhonha, MG”

ABSTRACT Objective This is a descriptive study divided into two distinct approaches to voluntary work among medical students. This article sought to understand the level of engagement of these students in voluntary projects and the repercussions generated by working in a volunteer project of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in a group of students. Methods The study was carried out in two parts. The first part is a cross-sectional study involving quantitative analysis, through which, with the use of an online questionnaire in Google Forms, 135 first- to sixth-year medical students from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) were interviewed. Participants were asked whether or not they had engaged in voluntary services and the reasons for doing so. The second part of the article is a cross-sectional, qualitative analysis that evaluated the impact of the voluntary project “Caring for your health in Ponto dos Volantes”, promoted by the UFMG Medical School on the life of the participants. The project took place in July 2017 in Vale do Jequitinhonha, Minas Gerais, with 19 members, all of them undergraduate medical students. The opinions of 15 of the 19 students participating in the project were evaluated through the Google Forms platform. Results The results of the first study showed that 108 (80%) of the participants had previously done some voluntary work and 97.3% of them would like to participate in another similar activity. When questioned about the benefits that volunteering provided, personal growth was the most common answer, with 94 (25.06%) votes out of 375 votes; enhancing one’s curriculum vitae was not among the most voted, obtaining only 23 (6.13%) votes. Among those with no interest in volunteering, lack of time was the most common reason. In addition, 110 (81.48%) of the study participants stated that they would like to volunteer after graduation. In the second study, all 15 students (100%) who answered the questionnaire showed interest in carrying out new voluntary work. When asked about the impact of volunteering on their lives, only positive aspects were raised, such as valuing one’s life and that of others. As for the reason for engaging in the project, the vast majority mentioned the possibility of learning about different realities from daily life and college services. Conclusion Together, the two studies show that voluntary work has become a well-known feature in the life of UFMG medical students and that non-engagement in such projects is more due to lack of knowledge and dissemination than to lack of interest. Our study concluded that greater investment in the creation and dissemination of academic voluntary projects is needed and that this reality should be expanded not only within universities across the country but in schools and communities as a whole.