Extracurriculars To Pursue If You Are Interested In Medicine
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.
To become a hospital volunteer, first research local hospitals and search for their volunteer program. Make sure you fit their requirements to become a volunteer. Then, fill out their application either online or on paper, some hospitals will also interview you. Once you get accepted, you should get tested, attend orientation, and complete forms and a background check. If you are under the age of 18, you should get parental consent and commit to the number of volunteer hours you need. Volunteering at a hospital would be a great experience to test out the field.
Shadowing a Doctor
Shadowing a doctor is a great way to get a feel of what the medical field is like. You get to follow a doctor around in a clinic, hospital, or operating room setting. To shadow a doctor, you would have to arrange the opportunity yourself, but it depends on the doctor’s schedule and availability. Here are steps to help you shadow a doctor:
Identify your specialty interests
To shadow a doctor, first figure out what specialties you are interested in. Do you want to be in an operating room or a clinic? Specialties include internal medicine, surgery, family medicine, neurosurgery, etc. You can also shadow a variety of specialties to see what you really enjoy.
Find doctors to shadow
At this stage, you will have to research doctors in the area of specialties you are interested in. A great way to find doctors is to ask your family, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, etc. They can help you network with doctors and connect you to them.
The last step is to contact the doctor through a formal email. Introduce yourself, ask to shadow them, why you’re interested in medicine, and what you hope to get out of the experience. Once they answer and give you permission to shadow them, confirm important information like the time and location with them and if there is any paperwork you have to fill out.
Repeat these steps to shadow different doctors.
When you are shadowing, make sure to wear professional attire. Bring a small notebook and pencil/pen with you to take notes. (Do not write down any patient data or information) After you finish your shadowing session, make sure to send a thank-you email to the doctor!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person shadowing may not be available. However, virtual shadowing is an excellent opportunity to shadow doctors! Although shadowing virtually is different than in-person, it is still an amazing opportunity to learn from doctors. Many organizations provide virtual shadowing opportunities either through Youtube Lives or Zoom. You join during the scheduled time and the doctor will talk and go through their background, day in the life, case studies, as well as a question and answer session! Organizations provide many doctors in different specialties for you to shadow. Some also provide certificates of attendance! Here are a few organizations and their Instagrams! These organizations operate differently so check them out to learn more about them.
Participating in various activities can give you a great perspective of the medical field. As medicine is really fast-paced joining extracurriculars will really help you in learning and experiencing more of medicine. These extracurriculars are amazing options that you should look into if you are interested in pursuing medicine.
“About Science Olympiad.” Science Olympiad, www.soinc.org/info/about-science-olympiad.
Consulting, Princeton College. Top Extracurricular Activities for Future Medical Students in High School, www.princetoncollegeconsulting.net/blog/top-extracurricular-activities-for-future-medical-students.
“How to Shadow a Doctor as a Pre-Med Student.” The Princeton Review, www.princetonreview.com/med-school-advice/how-to-shadow-a-doctor-as-a-pre-med-student.
“Mission, Purpose, Goals, Creed, Core Values.” HOSA, www.hosa.org/mission.
Seigel, Dora. 59 Great Medical Programs for High School Students + Advice, 2020, blog.prepscholar.com/medical-programs-for-high-school-students.
Seigel, Dora. Hospital Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students: A Guide, blog.prepscholar.com/hospital-volunteer-opportunities-for-high-school-students.
Sundquist, Kate. “Extracurriculars for High Schoolers Interested in Studying Medicine.” CollegeVine, 9 Mar. 2020, blog.collegevine.com/extracurriculars-for-high-schoolers-interested-in-studying-medicine/.
Sundquist, Kate. “How to Get a Research Assistant Position in High School.” CollegeVine, 4 Mar. 2020, blog.collegevine.com/how-to-get-a-research-assistant-position-in-high-school/.