For pre-health students, the process of finding internships can often be frustrating. Unlike students targeting many other fields, pre-medical students and students targeting other healthcare careers are often limited in their options for gaining experience due to liability issues associated with direct patient care. In order to gain significant experience, students must often look beyond traditional internship programs. Since professional schools regularly look for applicants with broad areas of experience, such as inpatient care/interaction, research, and community service/campus leadership, students are best served by gaining experience in a variety of areas, which can potentially be in internships, volunteer experiences, employment, and/or participation in on or off-campus student organizations.
Patient Care/Clinical Experience:
Most students can gain initial patient exposure through hospital volunteer, rescue squad, and part-time work in a medical setting. Many students have also been successful shadowing physicians in private practice, usually through personal referrals or by contacting doctors "cold". Another way to gain initial patient exposure is by contacting the volunteer services department of your local hospital. Some of these departments also coordinate in-house physician shadowing programs.
A wide range of research-oriented opportunities is available with pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, non-profit research facilities, medical schools and universities including Rutgers. Valuable research experience can also be gained through research topics and honors research courses at Rutgers. For a list of online opportunities, see the Summer Undergraduate Research Links section of our Great Links for Health Professions Students page.
Community Service/Campus Leadership:
On-campus activities such as pre-medical clubs, student hotlines, community service clubs, and student government can be an excellent way to develop leadership, communication, and organizational skills. Also, many large non-profit human service organizations offer challenging community-based volunteer opportunities.