When it comes to selecting a pre-med experience to include on your resume for medical school, there are many options. Some individuals may choose to do volunteer work. Others may decide to take a job as a medical scribe. While both can provide value, pre-med clinical experiences allow you to spend a significant amount of time shadowing a physician in a specialty of your choice. There are other benefits to participating in a pre-med clinical experience, which you can read about in our post, 6 Benefits of Pre-Med Clinical Experiences.
If you already know a pre-med clinical experience is right for you, check out the following tips on how to best plan!
Explore New Medical Specialties
Although you are early on in your medical education, you may know the medical specialty or specialties you are most interested in. While selecting an experience in one of these areas can solidify your interest in them, a pre-med clinical experience can also introduce you to a specialty you haven’t considered. It can be a fun and educating experience if you select an area of medicine you are interested in but have little knowledge of or experience with. It can be inspirational and change the trajectory of your education.
Consider an Urban, Suburban, or Rural Location
When it comes to planning your clinical experience, you may consider experimenting with where the program is located. AMO offers pre-med clinical experiences in urban, suburban, and rural locations, providing you the opportunity to consider which of these settings you prefer to practice in when you obtain a medical license.
The location where a physician practices can impact their pay and daily schedule. It also can affect a physician’s outlook on their profession. While urban and suburban practices mean higher paychecks, rural practices are impactful. Physicians practicing in rural areas make a real difference in their communities. In such locations finding accessible and affordable health is a challenge. A pre-med clinical experience in one of these locations can give you a comprehensive look at their positives and negatives.
As a pre-medical student, your clinical experience will consist of shadowing a physician. Shadowing means you will observe doctor and patient interactions, which is both informative and engaging. Provided a patient is comfortable, you will be able to sit in on check-ups and consultations. Your physician may even ask you questions or expand on the information they are sharing with the patient.
While asking questions is an important part of learning, it is a good idea to record any questions you have during a consultation rather than asking them on the spot. Asking questions after consultations allows the physician to address questions more thoroughly and doesn’t put the physician in an uncomfortable spot where they would potentially provide an answer that may alarm the patient or cause their appointment to become overly lengthy.
Most pre-med students are young and have little or no exposure to medicine from the viewpoint of the physician. Until now, their view of medicine rests on their pre-med curriculum and their first-hand experience as a patient. This description may apply to you, and a shadowing experience has the potential to cause excitement and nerves. While it is okay to acknowledge these feelings, it is essential to maintain a level of professionalism during your pre-med clinical experience.
Professionalism can take many forms. It can be displayed through attire, punctuality, and overall demeanor. When it comes to your wardrobe, it is a good idea to be overdressed, at least on the first day. Consider dressing business professional, which means wearing slacks and a tie or, for females, dress slacks with a blouse or a dress. After the first day of your pre-med shadowing clinical experience, the physician may direct you to wear something else.
When it comes to being punctual, be sure to show up for your shadowing experience early. Arriving early signifies that the experience, and the physician and patient’s schedules, are important to you.
In addition to dressing professional and showing up early, be sure to show respect for the healthcare professionals you come in contact with. While you should always be respectful of the physician you are shadowing, this respect should carry over to the rest of the staff members at the clinic or hospital.
Professionalism can give the physician a favorable view of you. It may lead them to write a great letter of evaluation for your medical school application.
Record and Reflect on the Experience
During the experience, record what you learned, enjoyed, and things you had expected to turn out differently. Recording these ideas can give you a framework of points to discuss during medical school interviews. These notes may provide future insight when you are a medical resident or practicing physician.
Ready to apply for a pre-med clinical experience?
AMO offers a number of shadowing experiences within the U.S.