High School and College Summer Opportunities for Clinical ExperienceFebruary 22, 2014
If you are a young adult considering a career in medicine, you’ll want to take advantage of your youthful energy and enthusiasm to obtain clinical experiences during your summer vacations. These types of opportunities require some planning and forethought, so now is the time to begin seeking them out. If you are a high schooler interested in having a summer clinical experience, here is a quick guide to identifying and locating these opportunities.
Your Local Universities
If you live near a large city or research hospital, you can expect to find summer programs designed specifically for high school students. Universities, in particular, are driven to increase diversity among its college students, and these programs actively recruit and support students of color. Some examples of these programs include the University of Wisconsin (Surgical Clinical Research Experiences for High School Students), University of Pittsburgh (The Doris Duke Foundation Academy for Clinical Research), Temple University (Building Health Career Skills), and Stanford University). Often, these programs are very competitive, allowing for less than a dozen participants. These applications require adherence to a strict deadline for submitting essays, resumes, and letters of recommendation. Because of the prestige associated with acceptance into these types of programs, colleges will look favorably on students who participate in and complete these university-level clinical experiences.
These types of programs are typically held on college campuses and cost participants a tuition fee. They are held over the course of several weeks and engage high school students in age-appropriate activities. These types of programs are less competitive than others, as mostly all students who can afford to pay the required fees are accepted. Scholarships are typically available to those whose income qualifies them for support. At a pre-medical institute, you’ll gain experience in both the clinical and research facets of medicine. You’ll “play” in the lab as well as take patient histories. These are highly supervised settings where you’ll be able to ask questions of your supervisors (usually medical students themselves) and begin to understand the commitment required of a medical professional.
The US government is always actively recruiting the brightest minds to work in its facilities. As such, it starts early to identify those intellects who would fit well within its organization. The National Institutes of Health is one arm of the government which offers a summer clinical research opportunity to high school students. These are extremely competitive, as high school students compete with college students and other medical professionals for a few slots. Again, acceptance into this type of summer experience is highly regarded and prestigious. Students will shadow and be mentored by world-renowned medical experts who will offer them a unique perspective into this part of the medical profession.
If you are not local to a big-name university, or if you lack the funds to participate in a pre-medical institute, do not despair! Volunteering at your local hospital will allow you the opportunity to gain clinical experience during high school. You’ll be limited in the hands-on opportunities you’ll be allowed to experience, but you will be able to take advantage of a smaller, community-friendly setting to learn more about the medical profession. Busy doctors don’t often have time to mentor young people who aspire to achieve as they have, but your local hospital may be an ideal location for you to identify a physician who has the time to answer your questions and provide career guidance.
Summer is a great time to gain clinical experience as a high school student. Don’t let those warmer months slip away without a clinical experience that gets you closer to your dreams! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.