Shadowing a DoctorNovember 11, 2013
As a premed, you need to gear up and get into medical school mode and the earlier you do this the better. The one way to achieve this is to make the most of the summer before med school. You can use that time to do a few things that will show medical school committees that you have a thirst to learn and improve yourself. This is the time when you need to think seriously about taking up an internship.
Choosing Your Internship
The first step is to decide what kind of work you would like to do. You can choose from between clinical internship, research, research internship or even clinical volunteer work. The idea is to keep busy during the summer, learn something new, hone your skills and understand how the medical world works. Every internship has its pros and cons and you have to be aware of these before you dive headlong into the deep waters.
Doing a research internship can be very exciting as you come across new discoveries. It also gives you the benefits of a decent stipend, food as well as housing. The experience will definitely be worth your while. The downside is that you will never learn what patient care is all about. In order to get into a research internship, find a professor in your university or college. If you are conducting some research in your own college, you have the chance to continue with it right through the year. However, you might not get a stipend for the entire duration. Look for research-funded programs as these guarantee a stipend, food and housing. These programs tend to be very competitive and you will have to work hard to prove that you are worthy of being in them.
Research & Clinical Internship
With a research and clinical internship, you will get a stipend, food and housing. You will be able to conduct research and be around patients. The downside is that you may not have a large amount of patient interaction. Many places have special research and clinical programs that are designed specifically for premed students but the competition is truly fierce. In these programs, you get to shadow doctors just once a week and that is the only interaction you will have with patients. The best way is to apply for a research-funded program and then find some extra volunteer work. That way you reap the benefits of the program and get the experience you need.
Clinical Volunteer Work
This is where you will have a large amount of patient interaction but there will be no research involved. It is best to find a volunteer position in the town you live in. Since you will not be getting a stipend, staying at home is one way of reducing costs. Some places have positions specifically for gap year students. You can also consider taking up any job at a local emergency centre.
You can also find some volunteer work internationally. It gives you more exposure and you will gain a lot of experience as well. This kind of work adds a lot of weight to your medical school application.
There are several ways of making the best of the summer and these are just a few ideas to get you started. Take the advice of your pre-health adviser and work as hard as you can.