The Application Process: PCV Invitation and Beyond

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(An actual depiction of the # of steps it takes to get into Peace Corps).

After the interview there is a ridiculously long waiting period, or at least it seems this way. Thankfully, the first night post interview my friends Frida and Katarina took me out to get my mind off of things and to have a good time! I am beyond grateful that they had the foresight to do this for me because had I not left the apartment I’d probably have become Jack Nickleson in the ‘Shinning,’ and been found the next morning sleeplessly pouring over Blogs on Peace Corps acceptance timelines. If this is what you are doing right now, and I’m only saying this because I care about your sanity (I really love that your reading this by the way but…) STAY AWAY from all the  blogs, ‘timeline posts,’ chat rooms, Reddit pages, ALL of it. Going online at right now is like getting on web MD with a headache, you’re only going to end up twice as stressed and certain all your dreams are dead. Also, I wouldn’t email your recruiter more than once during this time, and no big surprise here, all he could say is that I would receive an e-mail by the ‘know by’ date (I emailed 2-3 times…sorry about that).

Honestly the best thing you can do for yourself is to give yourself a break. Have some fun! If all goes well you’ll want to have lived these days to the fullest because the next few months are going to be filled with Doctors appointments, filling out papers, and taking passport pictures!

One tease the Peace Corps pulls is that sometimes they send you the legal packet early as in before your acceptance to your house. Mine came while I was in Copenhagen and I got a message from my dad asking me if he should open it…It was just a finger print form, which by the way, you can get at the police department or wherever finger prints are done (mine looked exactly the same) So no need to freak out or worry if they are misplaced or rained on (happened to me…Tennessee rain can come on fast and hit HARD). I am not sure  if the packet is a good sign or simply the Peace Corps wanting you to be prepared in the event that you get your invitation. I can tell you that is did not coincide with my acceptance email and it definitely gave me a minor heart attack.

The Call (or E-Mail Really)

It had been two long weeks since my interview, I had returned to the United States and thanks to my night shift job, I had beaten my jet lag so completely it was like I’d never left at all. I kept going over my interview in my head. Over and over I would try to remember my answers and dissect what I said and continually coming up with much better, more polished answers. It’s truly incredible the complex torture our minds are capable of creating for ourselves. I had all but decided that the Peace Corps didn’t want me when, on a whim, I decided ‘what the hey, I’ll check my email at 3pm in the afternoon instead of at 6pm like I’d promised myself I’d wait to check each day. And there it was! Congratulations  on your acceptance to the Peace Corps! I was elated. I thoroughly terrified my dog, and possibly some neighbors. And of course I was the only person home and no one was answering my phone calls! (Probably should have waited till 6pm). FINALLY my friend Matt picked up and I was able to tell a human that after all my work, interview, and worry I had made it! I was gonna go the the dang Peace Corps and be the volunteer I wanted to be! It was surreal. I had to keep checking the email just to prove I hadn’t dreamed it. And then I read the rest of the email.

The Work

So once all the excitement had died down and I read the E-mail in its entirety I saw that it said to return the legal packet ASAP so the Peace Corps could begin to legally clear me for departure. (So the break it down first you have to get accepted and then you must be legally and medically cleared before they can send you the ALL CLEAR email and you’ll be on your way!)

Legal

The legal clearance was a piece of cake. I called around to my local police departments and walked into the office (after surviving a sudden deluge of rainfall) and promptly got escorted up to the finger printing room and paid my (20?) dollars and left. It all took about 15 minutes. And in about a week or so after I received my Legal Clearance (Mine may have been sped up by the fact that I had to get a similar background check when I applied to become a nurse).

Medical

Then came the task of completing the Medical Clearance. A long list of medical tasks appeared for me about 3 weeks after my acceptance email was sent to me. On this list were about 14 different forms of varying length that needed to be filled out and sent into the Peace Corps. All of these forms must be scanned and saved in a pdf format and then uploaded to the Peace Corps site. It’s all pretty simple as far as the interface goes. Once you send in a form on a specific task that task will have an icon with a green check saying that it was sent in. This Does not mean it’s been approved and then later you will see a magnifying glass which means one of the fantastic nurses in the Peace Corps Office is looking over your forms! If your form is all good then the task simply disappears from your portal, if it’s missing something or you accidentally sent in a blank form (it happened to me because of a title error…whoops) they’ll send you and email saying you need to correct or resend the form. All of the assignments have to be completed in a pretty tight time period but if for any reason you have to have a follow up visit or your doctor can’t fit you in until past the due date I found the nurses to be understanding and flexible with the dates. I would absolutely try to get all of your appointments in long before the due date because it’s so much nicer to have everything turned in and finished. And it also gives you ample time to correct any mistakes.

Your primary care doctor is going to look at you really funny when you bring the physical form in. Like really funny. My Doctor told me the Peace Corps packet, as it came to be known, was more thorough than even the militaries’ physical form. Mostly though your Doctor will write N/A on a bunch of spots and then give you a very detailed physical and a few shots. And then you’re done. I had to get another chicken pox vaccine because I didn’t have the ‘right’ one or it was too old? I didn’t fully understand but I checked with the Peace corps nurse as to what I needed, bit the bullet and got the second shot no trouble at my health department for FREE!! Public health is pretty great you guys, USE IT!!!

My Dentists office was also super confused by the forms. The Dental hygienist ended up having another tech come in and pencil in all the teeth spacing numbers that the Peace Corps requires as she measured each of my teeth. Did you know each one of your teeth has three numbers that mean something to dentists? Yeah, me either until that appointment. It proves that the hygienists are pretty dang smart and know a lot more than the general public goes them credit for!

The rest of the forms are pretty easy to follow and carry out, and if you mess up on accident your nurse will let you know so it’s not the end of the world.

Scanning

To scan in my forms because I didn’t have a scanner handy I used TurboScan on my phone to take pictures of each of my documents and sent them in this way. TurboScan allows you to save the photos you take as a pdf, jpeg, or image which was so helpful for this hurtle and made the process so much less stressful! I used this app when I was in nursing school for all my school forms and it honestly saved my butt! I also keep a copy of important forms on it as well (like my passport) so that if anything goes wrong I have proof that I am who I say I am and I can pull up numbers like my ID!

All in all I think the medical clearance process took me about 2 months to fully complete and I kept the nurses up to date on all the developments so even though I ended up being about a week over the due date on one form (because of a need for a follow up) I was still in their good graces. I received my medical clearance about a week after I turned in my last form! It was pretty great… you know when people in movies get excited and jump/hug the person nearest them? I got to do that. It was awesome.

I hope all of this helped and if you have any questions or want guidance from a veteran of the process feel free to contact me!

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