Updated: Apr 18, 2021
Gaining experience in the medical field is important for determining whether or not you would like to pursue medicine. Extracurriculars like clubs, programs, internships, and volunteering can give you a feel of what working in the medical field is like while learning and gaining knowledge on the different aspects of medicine. If you are set on going the medicine route, extracurriculars can show admission officers that you are passionate about science and medicine. Are you unsure about what medicine-related extracurriculars to participate in? If so, here are a few options:
Joining school clubs is a great way to learn more about certain fields of medicine in general. Clubs will give you the opportunity to learn and work with people that have similar interests in you. Some clubs are learning experiences, while others provide a way for you to use your knowledge of medicine through competitions. Here are a few clubs you can join if you have an interest in medicine:
Girls in White Coats
Science Olympiad (Scioly) is an organization that hosts competitive tournaments and professional development workshops that showcases innovative STEM content to students and teachers. Scioly provides a variety of events including Anatomy & Physiology, Designer Genes, Astronomy, Chem Lab, Boomilever, Codebusters, etc. You can join Science Olympiad at your school. If your school does not have one, start a chapter!
HOSA is another organization with a mission of empowering students to become leaders in the global health community through education, collaboration, and experience. HOSA also provides a variety of events including Medical Terminology, Medical Assisting, Dental Terminology, Sports Medicine, CPR/First Aid, Job Seeking Skills, HOSA Bowl, HOSA Service Project, etc. You can join a HOSA chapter at your school. If your school does not have one, start one!
Medical Summer Programs
Medical summer programs provide an amazing experience as you get to learn simple medical procedures, watch surgeries, shadow doctors, work in hospitals, interact with patients, and more. These programs will give you a feel of what working in the medical field is like. These summer programs are usually costly, but some programs are free. Here is a list of summer programs that you can apply for!
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Program Length: 8 weeks
Cost: Free (You can receive a stipend of up to $1,392)
Location: Oakland, California
Program Length: 5 days
Location: Universities throughout the U.S.
Program Length: 9 days
Cost: $ 2,995-$3,695
Location: Stanford, California
Program Length: 5 weeks
Location: San Diego, California
Program Length: 12 days
Research Position at a Local University
Getting a research position at your local university is an exceptional opportunity if you have an interest in science or medicine. This is an experience to work with real data and participate in experiments that can provide insight that you don’t learn in a regular classroom alongside a professor. The process of getting a research position is very long, but it will be worth it in the end. You can ask for a research position for the academic year or during the summer. Here are the steps to getting a research position at your local university.
Identify your local university
Go on the university’s website and look for their research faculty. Find a professor(s) with research in your field of interest. I suggest keeping a spreadsheet of all the professors you would like to contact. On the spreadsheet, include their name, field of study, and their email. This will help with the cold emailing process.
Email all the professors you would like to intern for. Introduce yourself, ask them for a research position (either during the academic year or the summer), tell them what interested you about their research, and what you are hoping to gain from this experience. You can also add your resume along with the email. This process takes a long time as some professors answer and others do not so be patient! Once they give you a research position, you should request to have a call with them to finalize all the details.
If professors don’t respond to you, don’t worry! Just repeat the process.
Volunteering at a Hospital/Clinic
Volunteering at a hospital or clinic is a fantastic way to test out the medical field. Volunteers often have a specific job that they usually request. The main jobs include greeting patients and visitors at the hospital, assisting with filing, typing, and answering phones, assisting with sorting and delivering items to patients, helping clean dishes and utensils, or assisting patients to make them comfortable. Hospitals usually have a set number of hours you have to work per year.