Shadowing a DoctorOctober 31, 2014
Pre-med students look for surgery work experience for two reasons. One is to take a look at this specialty from up close in order to determine whether or not this is the right specialty for them. The second is to give their medical school application a valuable boost.
However, getting any kind of work experience in the medical field is very tough to get and getting surgical work experience can be even tougher. This is because most surgeons do not like having their operating rooms crowded with unskilled people who cannot help them during a procedure and who simply get in their way. Another thing that most institutions are scared about is the legal issue that may arise. Since they work under confidentiality clauses and are governed by various insurance issues and privacy policies, it may not be possible for them to allow you to observe a procedure while it is taking place. Fortunately, despite the many existing obstacles, getting a surgical internship isn’t completely impossible. Here are a few things you can try.
Start with the Internet
Make a list of all the hospitals in close proximity to your place of residence and check out their websites. Some hospitals that have formal surgery internship programs often list the dates and schedules on their website. If you find any that are listed, make a note of the dates and application details and send in your application. Don’t just stop at one. Apply to every internship opportunity that you think you would be able to avail of. The more places you apply to, the better your chances of getting accepted.
Call hospitals in your neighbourhood
For all the hospitals that do list internship opportunities, there are several that do not. Make a list of the hospitals that do not have any such opportunities listed and call them. Ask them if they will be willing to take on a surgical intern. Some of the smaller hospitals may be happy to offer you some surgical time if you help out with other stuff.
Word of mouth works just as well too
Talk to family and friends and tell them about your plans. Someone may know a surgeon or a hospital administrator who will arrange to let you tag along or watch a few procedures. It does not hurt to ask so don’t hesitate. You may just get lucky.
Sign up for a medical placement in a developing country
Knowing the obstacles that pre-med students face back home in trying to obtain valuable surgery experience, several organisations now facilitate internships for students in other countries. Most of these internships are in developing countries such as Thailand and Tanzania, where you will actually gain more extensive clinical experience than you could ever get in any hospital back home. An experience such as this would give you a true picture of what life in this specialty will be like and will also give your med school application a tremendous boost.