What High Schoolers Can Do to Prepare for a Pre-Med Path
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Shravya Kakulamarri in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
- Why Should You Think About Pre-Med in High School?
- Participating in Community Service
- Gaining Clinical Experience
- Finding Research Opportunities
Why Should You Think About Pre-Med in High School?
Demonstrating your passion for medicine and immersing yourself in the field while in high school will allow you to imagine what a future medical career could look like. Hands-on experience is always the best way to decide if a career path is the right fit for you.
It is also useful to think about whether you would like to pursue the pre-med path in high school so that you can better prepare for your college applications. In addition to traditional application materials — like GPA, test scores, and essays — there are three other things that pre-med programs may look for in potential applicants: service work, taking advantage of clinical opportunities, and research experience. Admissions officers generally value these experiences, because they reflect that you are service-oriented, have an inclination towards the kind of work required, and are interested in the field.
Participating in Community Service
First, remember that any kind of service work is beneficial, even when it is unrelated to medicine. The medical profession is about giving back to your community. Volunteering in any capacity exposes you to the underlying principles of medicine and constitutes valuable experience.
The most attainable health-related volunteering as someone under 16 is found in settings like hospital reception areas and gift shops, allowing you to work in a medical setting and interact with patients and their families.
If you find an opportunity like this, be sure to make the most of it. Be present, and have good conversations with those you meet. Carry about a small notebook and write down meaningful experiences to reflect on later. They may be helpful when brainstorming for your application essays or to help decide if a career in medicine is for you.
To find these opportunities, research local hospitals and check if their websites mention high school volunteer opportunities. You can also reach out to their administrative offices.
Gaining Clinical Experience
For those in high school and over 16, shadowing is another great way to expose yourself to the health professions field. In some cases, doctors may allow you to directly interact with patients, a rare opportunity for students still in high school.
Reach out to doctors you may know through family or friends and ask if they have shadowing available If that doesn’t work, search on hospital websites — particularly those that double as research institutions – to find physician’s emails.
Remember, doctors are not the only health professionals. You could also consider shadowing a local dentist or veterinarian, instead.
Finding Research Opportunities
Emailing professors at local universities or community colleges is a particularly good tactic to find research projects in high school. Though many may say no, some will likely say yes. They may also connect you to a colleague or graduate student with open roles.
Entering college with the experience of setting up and carrying out your own research project will give you an undeniable edge. Furthermore, reaching out while in high school to find research experience shows that you’re inquisitive, a quality pre-med program will be valuable.
If you cannot find research opportunities, don’t worry too much. You will have plenty of these experiences during your undergraduate career.
For more information, check out CollegeVine’s recent articles for pre-med students.