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How to get a pre-med internship with little to no experience?

Hello, my name is Valerie, I am currently a first-year Biology student at the University of South Florida. As a pre-med student, I have been on the lookout for an internship or job, it has been very hard searching for something related to the field of healthcare or medicine, and I would like some advice.

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Raquel’s Answer

I know a lot of people who have worked as scribes while premed. It provides great experience within the medical field, you get to see a lot, work with a lot of doctors, and gain valuable experience for your eventual medical school application. Lots of larger hospitals have scribes, especially in the ER. Other options I've seen people do are get licensed as either a CNA or MA. Both of those you'd have to take a course on and get licensed, but both are good options for having a job in the medical field while a premed student. Best of luck!
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Mary Jane’s Answer

Hi Valerie! Unfortunately, it is very late in the season to be looking for summer opportunities. Many of these internships and jobs often have deadlines in January or February so selections for this summer have usually already been made by April. I would encourage you to start looking for opportunities next year during your winter break so that you can start writing the essays needed for applications due early in the spring semester.

Many of the suggestions listed by others are not always practical for the students that I work with. For instance, scribing companies often require a 12-month contract, which can be difficult for student-athletes or if students have to commute during the school year to a hospital with scribe services. Medical assisting and EMT and CNA work are great ways to get patient experience, but the training programs can be expensive and the long work shifts can be difficult for some students to juggle during the school year. If you are interested and can manage those types of positions based on what's available in your community and your personal finances, definitely consider them but don't panic if it feels out of reach right now. Your pre-health advisor on campus can help you get a sense of what's feasible in the community where you are attending college because they work with many people on the premed track who are also seeking experience before applying to med school.

At this point, you can research the human resources websites of local healthcare agencies (clinics, hospitals, public health departments, etc) to see if they have any listings for summer jobs or internships. If you don't see anything, you can send a brief email introducing yourself as a student and asking if they have opportunities available. Also reach out to groups that are doing important work with underserved populations; it doesn't need to be clinical because you can still learn valuable skills and insights working with groups of people who are different from yourself. If you are passionate about women's issues, check women's shelters or if you care about food insecurity, look to see if your food pantry has positions.

Definitely visit your career center on campus to see what resources and support they have for finding jobs. I know our campus has a lot of summer camps looking for workers this time of year, for example, and some of those serve children with medical conditions or disabilities. You can also talk with faculty in your science departments to see if they have any openings for summer research, but again, those spots may already be filled. If you are lucky, a student who already accepted an on-campus position might receive an offer for an off-campus internship, leaving an opening on campus that you can fill.

Worst case, if you can't find any jobs that seem to have a direct relationship to your career goals, I recommend you take a job with scheduling flexibility that allows you to earn the money you need to support next year's academic expenses and then focus on volunteering in a clinical setting and shadowing doctors. In other words, maybe you work retail at night and on weekends so you can shadow and volunteer during the work day. That way, you can be building up your hours of service and clinical exposure this summer with the goal of landing an excellent clinical or research opportunity next winter. This plan gives you some experience this summer in a clinical setting, making you more competitive for clinical positions next summer. You've got this! Good luck!

Mary Jane recommends the following next steps:

Make an appointment with an advisor in your campus Career Center to determine options & resources for this summer.
Make an appointment with your campus pre-health advisor to start planning for next year.
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Bhavna’s Answer

Hello Valerie,

1. Start by researching opportunities: Look up hospitals, clinics, and research institutions that offer pre-med internships. Check out their websites, social media accounts, and online job boards.

2. Network with people in the industry: Attend medical conferences, join pre-med organizations, and reach out to professors, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Let them know that you are interested in pre-med internships and ask if they have any suggestions or know of any opportunities.

3. Volunteer at a hospital or clinic: Even if it is not a formal internship, volunteering can give you valuable experience and put you in contact with people who can help you find an internship. You can also ask if they have any internships available.

4. Consider academic research: Professors may have research projects that need assistance. This may not be directly in the medical field, but it can give you skills that can be applied to medical research.

5. Apply for summer programs: Many universities offer summer programs in the medical field for students. These programs can give you hands-on experience and introduce you to potential mentors.

6. Apply for online internships: Even an online-based internship can provide valuable experience in medical writing, research, data analysis, or other areas.

7. Write a compelling cover letter and resume: Even with little experience, sell yourself well in the application letter or resume. State your passion and commitment to the pre-med field, mention any transferable skills or coursework, and point out your eagerness to learn.

I hope this helps. Good luck
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Liediana’s Answer

Hi there!
You can start by searching a part-time job as a clinic assistant. Clinic assistants may not assist in medical procedures but you should always start small: taking temperatures and handling patient registration.

You can also volunteer in hospital pharmacies. Hospitals often do not want to hire individuals with no certifications so pharmacy is a more likely place to start where you help to sort medicines or aid in admjnistrative matters.

These experiences may not directly enhance your knowledge if you are planning to be a doctor, but it is a valuable exposure to hospital life and its rigours. If anything, these experiences will tell your college admission office that you have the potential to pursue medicine for all the passion and efforts that you invested in various aspects that make a hospital.
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Lesly’s Answer

Hello! Choose careers that spark your curiosity. Investigate various healthcare professions you're presently involved in. Consider the kind of internship and its location. Seek advice from a career or medical center. Take advantage of on-campus opportunities. Hone your abilities. Contribute as a volunteer or freelancer. Embrace student employment.
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Lester’s Answer

Volunteering is one of the best ways to get experience and also to connect and network. Start contacting the local hospitals for volunteer opportunities. This will help open doors for you as far as looking for internships.

Do not discount primary care offices as well. A lot of primary care offices are very busy and in need of help. They may take you on as a volunteer or even hire you as an MA and train you as well. My previous clinic employed a pre-med student from USF as our MA.
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