Passionate about public health and medicine, but not sure where to start? Here are five ways that you can get involved now!
One of the most important and easiest ways to gain experience in the medical field while in high school is to volunteer, specifically at a local hospital or medical center. Not only will you be giving back to your community, but you will also be gaining important experience. Whether you are helping at a front desk or cheering up a patient, you will learn a lot. Ryan Mohamadi, a current high school student, earns his volunteer hours by helping at his local hospital. He started as early as his freshman year, and has enjoyed doing it ever since. He has learned a lot about a hospital’s functions and daily rhythms. “My job is more of helping check in patients, diffuse any situations…, and helping give supplies to each department” says Ryan. His favorite part about volunteering? “[M]eeting new people and helping others who need help.” Volunteering is the perfect way to build your experience and help your community.
Some research centers and colleges offer special summer programs specifically for high school students! Different colleges offer short summer courses to give you a taste of what the academic side of the medical field is like. Some programs even let you take part in research and do activities that simulate real-life medical careers. Think of them like short internships. If there is a program near you, this is a great way to learn more about the medical field and decide if it is the fit for you.
Becoming a “shadow” is one of the best ways to see if the medical field is for you. You will quickly learn a lot. While it may seem like an unpaid internship, it is more than worth the time. Priya Jain, who is studying to become a doctor, says that she gained invaluable experience through shadowing. During her first summer helping in high school, she aided in an ER hospital, and she got to see first-hand that the medical field, while not always the easiest career, is the most fulfilling. During one particular moment, Priya said “that was one of the moments that solidified my desire to pursue medicine because I saw how hard the doctors worked and how they didn’t give up until the end.” You will get to watch and possibly even help with all kinds of things. Even if you feel inexperienced, sometimes the best way to learn is to help where you can, learning from your role models.
Obviously if you want to go into the medical field, health and well-being are things you care about. So help others care about them, too! Get involved in a health school club. Or partner with organizations like the Red Cross! The Red Cross offers several ways for teens to get involved. Help with a blood drive; join their National Youth Council; help with the wide variety of events and fundraisers that the Red Cross sets up. Even though getting involved in activities like this is not specifically an internship, it helps build your passion for the field, and it is good experience to mention on applications.
Not only can you volunteer locally, you can also help people on the international-level! For instance, Global Leadership Adventures offers programs specifically for those passionate about public health. From helping build health centers to working personally with the local people, you will have an amazing experience and help others in a big way. So whether it is Bali, Dominican Republic, Ghana, or Haiti, no matter where you choose to go, it will be an unforgettable summer.
So what’s the best thing that you can do to have a high school medical internship -like experience? “My best tip of advice is really just to get as much experience in the field as you can and know that you really enjoy the area of study,” says Priya. So what are you waiting for? Get a head start on what you are passionate about and let us know your story in the comments below!
Contributed by Addie Davis