An internship can serve you well when medical school appears on your horizon. Although you face competition from other pre-med students, snagging a paid or unpaid internship gets your foot in the medical career door. Spending a summer or two working for a health care or research facility helps you discover what most interests you, gain practical experience and hone your people skills. Pre-med internships also provide valuable content for your medical admissions application and interviews. Those that carry undergraduate credits also free up study time during the semester you take the Medical College Admission Test. The nature of the internship program you enter determines the work you do.
Provide Staff Support
Some internships put your organizational skills and enthusiasm to work doing routine tasks that keep the facility running. Students in New York University's Project Healthcare, for example, help by transporting patients, stocking supplies and making phone calls. University of Washington pre-med interns interview patients, then enter the information gathered into the hospital's health record system. The work sounds trivial, but performing such administrative duties gives you insight into a hospital environment.
Attend Lectures and Learning Events
Your hospital internship may include mandatory lectures and video presentations. Some sponsors, such as St. Jude's Children Hospital, invite their pre-med interns to conferences they host. You get the opportunity to witness intradepartmental communication by attending committee discussions about issues and problems the medical staff faces. You also may be asked to organize seminars or special meetings.
Observe, Shadow and Research
Sponsors assign their pre-med interns to a staff or faculty mentor but give the students an opportunity to rotate among different departments with different physicians. This lets you observe procedures. You may get the opportunity to observe an autopsy or accompany paramedics on an ambulance run. Assignments with mentors who have research projects often include participating in those projects.
Gain Career-Related Skills
Pre-med internships serve as a way to gain hands-on experience or learn a new skill. Your sponsor may teach you CPR and first aid. Your mentor may ask you to prepare a case series or research paper for publication, an opportunity to hone your writing and lab skills. Pre-med interns in one of Stanford Medical School's summer programs learn surgical skills, such as knot tying, suturing and how to use forceps.
- Athena Institute for Women's Wellness: Searching for Admission; The Smart Pre-Med Student's Guide for Applying to Medical School
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Department of Emergency Medicine; Project Healthcare
- University of Washington: Pre-Med Intern Position
- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) Program
- California University of Pennsylvania: Pre-Med, Biology Success Stories -- Placements
- Stanford School of Medicine: Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center; High School and Pre-Medical Student Stanford Summer Internship
Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.