Health Profession Experience
It is essential for all candidates to acquire some form of health profession experience before applying to medical school. This serves to demonstrate your commitment to a career in medicine but also provides you with necessary exposure to the practice of medicine. Medical schools want students who have a realistic view of what it takes to be a good physician and also some of the challenges of providing good medical care in today's climate. It is no longer good enough to just have a desire to be a physician; you must also understand the commitment you are making and have a realistic idea of what awaits you.
Some examples of how to get health profession experience:
We have premedical students who work as patient transporters, trained phlebotomists (taking blood samples) and as patient care assistants for medical clinics in NWA.
The Northwest Free Health and Dental clinic and the Community Clinic at St. Francis House provides free health care for uninsured individuals and rely on premedical student volunteers to assist the doctors, dentists, and nurses in the clinic.
You can approach physicians either in the community where you are going to school or back at home during winter or summer breaks. Shadowing can be as short as an afternoon or day, or as long as a week or more. Even if you have an idea of the medical specialty you would like to practice is is still a good idea to shadow physicians from a variety of specialties such as Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Obstetrics, Radiology, or Surgery. Picking more than one area of medicine can provide you with very different views of a physician's daily routine.
Many physicians who are on faculty at a medical school or work at the National Institutes of Health have an active research program in addition to patient care. Summer research programs are funded through the federal government to give undergraduates experience doing laboratory work. Look for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) section of the National Science Foundation web site.