What Is An Externship & What Are The Benefits?

December 6, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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An externship is an opportunity for students to engage in practice-based learning in a specific field of interest. In its most simple form, it is the opportunity for students to shadow a more experienced professional in the industry that the student is interested in pursuing. For medical students, an externship would involve shadowing a practicing physician in a hospital, a private clinic or any other healthcare setting.

Students with their mentor on the labour ward Externships vs Internships

Externships are very similar to internships with a few differences.

The duration of an externship is much shorter than that of internships. An externship could last anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks at the most whereas an internship would typically be about eight weeks at the very minimum and can even extend to much longer than that for some fields.

Externships are often held over the spring or winter break and are not as extensive as internships. They are only meant to give interested students a firsthand look at what it would be like to work in that particular career field and to help them explore their interests further. Students do not get paid during their externship, nor do they receive any school credit for the experience.

During an externship, although the student spends time directly in the workplace, they are only shadowing the working professionals. It is only a watch-and-learn, observational experience. During this time, they do not get assigned any projects or work to be done.  

What Happens During An Externship

An externship can take several different forms, depending on the establishment that is offering you the opportunity as well as your level of experience. At a hospital, you may spend the day or week following physicians from different specialties while they do their rounds. During this time you would only get to observe and ask questions at the end of the various sessions. You may also be given a tour around the different departments of the hospital so you get familiar with the set up and the way the different departments operate and interact with each other.

Benefits of Externship

Externships are the perfection solution for anybody who is interested in following a certain career path but is unsure about whether or not they are making the right choice. While observing professionals at work, not only do you get to learn more about the job or occupation you are interested in but you also get a better understanding of the day-to-day activities of professionals in that field. You can get all of your questions answered and can assess whether this looks like the right career path for you. An externship also gives you the opportunity to expand your circle of professional contacts for future networking.

In addition to all of the personal development benefits, participating in an externship can make a tremendous different to the success of your medical school application. Medical school authorities favor students who have participated in any type of volunteering project or externship as it shows that you are truly interested in a career as a physician, and for them that’s the main thing that matters.