“What should I do this summer as a pre-med?” This is a common question that high school and college students ask. If you are pre-med or thinking about going to medical school, use your summer wisely to strengthen your application. Here are a few activities that you can explore to make your summer fruitful and beneficial for your future career as a physician!
Clinical experiences. Strive to maximize the quality and quantity of clinical experiences prior to medical school. Use your summer to gain exposure to any aspect of medicine or work with different types of patients. Here are some options that will help you this summer as you decide what to do.
- Apply to be a medical scribe. Scribes are individuals who take notes for doctors, basically a personal assistant. Medical scribe programs are starting to become more common among pre-medical students. With adequate training, you learn how to work with doctors and help them document medical information. You can learn more about medical scribes here: https://www.scribeamerica.com/what_is_medical_scribe.html
- Shadow a doctor. Ask your own doctor to see if you can shadow them. Ask your parents’ friends who are doctors. Ask anyone you know who is a doctor to see if you can spend time shadowing them. If you do not know anyone, you could also e-mail physicians in your area or who are affiliated with a medical school. Ask to spend one day with them so you can learn about their field and what it’s like to care for patients.
- Volunteer with children. Some hospitals have schools where you can teach children or read to them. Some hospitals have hospital BINGO programs or other activities that students can pursue with children.
- Volunteer with the elderly. Veterans Affairs Hospitals are the largest integrated health care system in America. VA Hospitals have volunteer programs for students. Additionally, nursing homes are places where you can spend time with the geriatric population. Lastly, if you are interested in fields of medicine like oncology or hematology, then volunteer with a local hospice. Hospices are programs for people who are terminally ill, and volunteers are needed to spend time individuals who are dying.
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Non-clinical opportunities. Non-clinical opportunities are equally meaningful and teach you important skills that will serve you well for your application to medical school and your career.
- Get involved with research. Research experience is helpful in a medical school application because it shows your academic curiosity and ability to delve deeply into problems. Research can range from basic sciences to public health research. The best way to get involved with research activities during a summer is to contact Principal Investigators and ask them about short-term research opportunities. Search departments in medicine that interest you and look for the faculty members and their research experiences.
- Volunteer with children. Even outside the hospital or clinics, there are numerous opportunities to work with children. For example, you can be a camp counselor. You will learn how to motivate children and work in a team. Additionally, you can work with organizations that support children with special needs.
- Summer classes. You can use your summer to tackle some of those pre-med requirements. Many students take physics or organic chemistry over the summer. Remember, these classes can be very demanding since they are 1-2 semesters worth of work compressed into 6-10 weeks. So balance your time wisely among classes, extra-curricular activities, and jobs.
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Rachel Rizal grew up in Cerritos, California. She went to Princeton for undergrad, and founded an organization called Health Matters, which creatively taught health education and brought medical resources to low-income families. Rachel graduated cum laude Princeton, majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is currently a medical student at Stanford Medical School. She has a passion for interdisciplinary work, and wants to pursue a career that integrates medicine, public health, public policy, and business. She is one of the co-founders & co-authors of Cracking Med School Admissions, focused on: reading essays, practicing interviews with applicants, writing blogs to help pre-meds, advising pre-med applicants, giving talks & seminars about medical school admissions. Visit our website at www.crackingmedadmissions.com and email me at [email protected].
Rishi P. Mediratta, MD grew up in Portage, Michigan and has lived and worked in London, Geneva, and Addis Ababa focusing on wide-ranging public health issues. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University where he developed medical and public health programs focused on preventing child mortality. He often advises about medical school and fellowship applications and is a member of Stanford’s Rhodes-Marshall Selection Committee. As a resident at Stanford Medical School, Rishi is spearheading initiatives to improve population health and primary care opportunities. He is one of the co-founders & co-authors of Cracking Med School Admissions, focused on: reading essays, practicing interviews with applicants, and advising pre-meds with applications and scholarships. Visit our website at www.crackingmedadmissions.com and email me at [email protected].
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