5 Programs Every Pre-Med Students Should Take Advantage Of
Being a pre-medical student is nerve racking. Regardless of whether you are aspiring to become a surgeon, pediatrician, or even an anesthesiologist, you’re most likely stressing out over keeping your GPA and MCAT score top notch. To make the process more agonizing, medical schools are seeing an increasingly competitive sea of applications and you have to find a way to make yourself stand out. Luckily, we have compiled 5 programs across the United States that will boost you as a candidate for medical school and get you one step closer to your dreams.
1. Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) - This is a free six week program for college freshmen and sophomore with locations spanning all over the United States. Prospective medical students can get a lot out of participating in SHPEP. For example, participants will receive the opportunity to take science classes, gain clinical exposure, and attend health policy workshops. The goal of this program is to provide academic enrichment and career development to students who are underrepresented in the healthcare field. As of 2018, the extensive application process requires a personal and a letter of recommendation. Students can apply to a maximum of 3 sites with some of the well known ones being Columbia University, Howard University and University of California Los Angeles. The cost of dorming and travel is covered by most sites and participants also get a stipend for food. SHPEP is a nationally acclaimed program with endless benefits so pre-med students should definitely give it a shot.
2. Global Medical Brigades - GMB is an organization that enables students to volunteer in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Ghana to aid underserved communities meet their health and economic goals. Many schools across the nation has a medical brigades chapter that works together to fundraise and send a team of students to volunteer in the aforementioned nations. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside with doctors in providing medical care to those in need in rural communities and facilitate health workshops. This is a great way to gain medical exposure because students will participate in different stations such as triages, consultations, pharmacy, gynecology and even dental stations. The trip costs approximately 700 dollars plus airfare, but that amount can easily be fundraised throughout the year. You should definitely seek out your school’s chapter of GMB. If your school doesn’t have one, feel free to be proactive and start a chapter!
3. UCLA Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Enrichment Program (UCLA PREP) - This program enables students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enhance their readiness for medical school. UCLA PREP is open to all undergraduate students who have yet to apply to medical school. Participants will be able to prepare for the MCAT exams, undergo an extensive review of science courses, observe doctors and attend career development workshops. This non-residential program requires that the applicant has over a 2.5 science GPA, 2 letters of recommendations, and a compelling personal statement. Those interested in medicine should definitely consider applying to UCLA PREP because it’s free and they offer financial assistance to those traveling from afar.
4. Short-Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) - STEP UP is a 8-10 program that provides hands-on research experience over the summer for both high school and undergraduate students. Participants will be paired with mentors at institutions throughout the nation. Moreover, a summer research stipend will also be awarded. This program is geared towards financially disadvantaged and racially underrepresented students. Additionally, a GPA of 3.0 or higher is required, along with 2 letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Overall, research is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from other candidates applying to medical school and applying to this program can help you get started.
5. Shadowing - If you find yourself without a program to participate in, it’s always a good idea to shadow doctors. Start by asking your own physician if you can spend a few hours a week observing. You can always research different specialties you’re interested in and contact other doctors in your area. Shadowing is great because you have the freedom to decide how many hours a week you want to observe a doctor and set up your own schedule. Furthermore, it’s a great way to learn what doctors do on a daily basis and test the waters to see if medicine is the right career path for you.