You’ve stood out in the first round of applications, aced your interview, and now have received your invitation to serve. It’s time for medical clearance. Peace be with you.
In all seriousness, medical clearance can be the end of a potential Peace Corps journey. Peace Corps prioritizes volunteers’ safety and health above all things, so medical clearance is a highly important step to becoming a trainee and, ultimately, a volunteer. My experience with getting medical clearance took about 2 to 3 months, and I managed to receive medical clearance without much hassle relative to other volunteers. Here are a few tips I have for making this process as pain-free as possible.
1 // Start earlier than you ever imagined
The Peace Corps medical office might ask you to follow-up with your physician, dentist, gynecologist, or any other -ologist you saw for your paperwork. If you schedule your appointments for a couple days before your medical clearance paperwork deadline, that could be insanely stressful. I didn’t start my appointments immediately, but I would recommend scheduling those as soon as you can to avoid headache.
2 // Be 100% honest on your forms
Doing this will spare you having to resubmit forms or handle a medical issue later in your Peace Corps experience. For example, I have a dairy allergy, but the nurse practitioner filling in my forms put “lactose intolerance.” I had to go back and explain to my Peace Corps nurse about my allergy and submit extra forms as a result. To the best of your ability, try to get them right the first time!
3 // Try to upload forms ASAP
This sort of goes with number 1, but it’s equally important to take the time uploading your forms once you go to your appointments and get them back from medical professionals. Because of classes and work, I would sometimes take a week to 10 days in uploading my completed forms, which became stressful towards the deadline. Do yourself a favor and upload them within a couple days of receiving them from your doctor!
4 // Don’t let this take over your life
If the Peace Corps is something you’ve wanted for a long time, I know this process can be daunting. The thought of those dreams being taken away for medical reasons is not appealing, but this is not meant to become your life. There were times I let medical clearance take up more of my attention than needed. Remember that you’re probably about to move somewhere far (5,288 miles for me!) from home and family. Instead of stressing about things you can’t change, enjoy your time with them. You won’t regret it.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions I didn’t cover here! Best of luck as you navigate this process!
Edit: Click here to read more about my Peace Corps experience!