Healthcare workers, most notably doctors, are perhaps the most altruistic professionals. But to get their degree and license, medical students must hurdle numerous challenges across all fronts.
As a start, getting into medical school isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Besides academic excellence, applicants must impress the schools with their pre-medical experience. This helps them weather through medical school with fewer worries.
Aspiring pre-medical students must prepare early to build their skills, knowledge, and motivation to earn their degrees. For high schoolers eyeing to enter the medical field, participating in pre-med programs is a great way to determine if they’re cut out for the profession.
Here’s a brief guide to pre-med program preparation for high schoolers.
What Are Pre-Med Programs?
Pre-med programs are short-term initiatives offered by schools, hospitals, and government-run medical organizations, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to help prepare students for a medical career.
As such, these programs vary from school to school or institution to another. Some institutions charge certain fees for participating students, while some provide a stipend to successful completers.
For instance, some high school pre-med programs provided by colleges run for a few weeks and let participants experience life as pre-med students. The participants expected to stay in-campus and attend medical lectures and seminars at their own expense. Aspiring pre-medical students usually get a brief hands-on laboratory and hospital experience before the program’s conclusion.
Such activities mirror a student’s pre-med studies, often referring to the first four years of a pre-an aspiring medical student’s academic experience. Other pre-med programs for high school students will require them to spend hours with a clinical research team, but in limited capacities. You’ll find out more about these opportunities below.
Besides preparing young students for the actual medical coursework, these programs help allow them to choose their specialization. Such offers also help students decide whether they want to pursue a medical degree in the future.
As an aside, the average graduation rates for medical students in combined academic programs run from 81.6% to 84.3% and almost 96% for those completing medical degree programs exclusively, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Pre-Med Program Options
The medical field is expansive, and would-be physicians have several specialization options. As of 2021, over one million doctors are registered in the country, over half of whom have specializations.
Similarly, high school students eyeing to enter the medical profession can choose from these introductory short courses:
Pre-Med Programs for High School Students
Most school-based medical programs allow high school students to experience attending lectures, simulations, laboratory work, and patient care demonstrations. Because of such a learning modality, students are charged some fees before admission.
Conversely, some programs provide students with remuneration, like the eight-week High School Senior Summer Internship Program by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s Medical Youth Science Program is free, but participants must belong to low-income and underrepresented families. The school also offers a pre-medical science program for high schoolers interested in medical research.
Pre-Med Research Programs
This program is perfect if you want to strengthen your medical research experience. As a team member, you’ll assist a medical research group in different capacities. You’ll be asked to interview patients for an ongoing medical trial or record participant details and information on the database. You’ll be guided by a mentor, who may ask you for a report or presentation at the end of your engagement.
You may also work on non-biomedical research programs. Although these activities don’t directly relate to biology, participants still get to work in a laboratory and familiarize themselves with research procedures. These science research programs will also boost your critical thinking and lab work skills, giving you an advantage over other pre-medical school applicants.
Volunteering in Hospitals
If you don’t qualify for such opportunities, volunteer to work in the nearest hospital or clinic. For example, the Cedars Sinai Hospital accepts high school volunteers 14 to 18 years old to observe patient care and administrative tasks through their Inspiring New Scientists through Professional Internships and Research Experience (INSPIRE) program.
How To Apply
Because the application process is highly competitive for such pre-med programs for high school students, it’s best to prepare early. For instance, the NIH’s 2023 Summer Internships in Biomedical Research opened mid-November 2022 to February 1, although the program doesn’t start until late May or early June.
Here are additional tips for seamless application:
- Check the organization, school, or hospital’s website for application requirements, eligibility, and process.
- Research more information and pick the program that provides you with the best experience.
- Contact the program administrator for more information and see if you can get in touch with any of the program’s recent alumni.
- If you have time, beef up your resume with relevant extracurricular activities.
Maximizing pre-med opportunities likewise means applying to as many programs as you qualify for.
Applying for a pre-med program may not be as challenging as getting into medical school, but it is still competitive. Submit a stellar application with a resume showing your commitment, motivation, and passion for entering the medical field, even at a young age.
Whether you get paid or not for such high school programs, choose the track that provides you with the most knowledge and experience in the subject you’re most interested in.