Through an Internship Experience
If you are a premed student and want to get a competitive edge toward getting accepted into medical school, an internship is valuable in several ways. Not only will you gain extracurricular hours, but your work and accomplishments will provide meaningful content to incorporate into your personal statement and secondary essays. Plus, you will gain life experiences that will provide powerful discussion points during interviews.
Beyond the benefits of how an internship can improve your medical school candidacy, there are few activities that are more rewarding or beneficial to your medical career than a formal summer research program as an internship. Here are four reasons that demonstrate the importance of this type of internship.
Learn About Research Directly From Physician Experts
Not all Principal Investigators (PIs) or research mentors are the same. Some mentors teach and guide you, while others merely use you as cheap (or free) labor. For this reason, many undergraduate researchers do not really learn how to conduct research correctly. Strong summer research programs teach you to think scientifically, design experiments, and troubleshoot problems. They open your eyes to what real research is really like.
Get Mentorship and Build New Relationships
In an internship position, you will receive formal mentorship and the opportunity to build lasting relationships. One of the best things about a summer research program is that you get paired up with a PI or research mentor who has dedicated their summer to teaching you about research. The face time that you get with your mentor is incredibly valuable because you can learn a lot about science, a prospective career in medicine, and probably life in general.
Developing a good relationship with your mentor also guarantees that you will have a strong letter of recommendation (LOR) for your future med school application, and perhaps a reference the next time you are looking for an open job position.
Plus, there is networking value in building professional relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals. These are individuals that could refer you to a pre-clinical or clinical job you may not have been familiar with – or refer you to another person who could jumpstart your career.
Determine What Type of Research You’ll Want To Do In the Future
A summer research program is basically the same thing as an internship. You do research full time, like a graduate student or a postdoc. This experience is critical to determining whether you wish to do this type of work as part of your career. Researchers who love their summer experiences are more likely to pursue an MD/PhD, or do significant research as an MD. While not all internships provide stipends – some just provide excellent experience – many do provide various types of compensation, so be sure to ask about this during the interview process.
Improve Your CV and Medical School Application
Summer internships are a great way to impress admission committees, but shouldn’t be your only motivating factor. Research programs with a solid structure, and ample mentorship and research opportunities give you the best chance of making an important contribution to science. Keep in mind: The more prestigious the internship, the bigger impact it could make on an application.
Because many internships are competitive, you will likely have to apply to multiple programs to get accepted. The deadline for summer research programs varies by program and typically ranges from the end of fall to the end of winter. However, due to the pandemic, deadlines can vary widely. Always keep an eye out for an internship that can help you on your path toward becoming a physician. Luckily, Virtual Internships solves this by being able to guarantee you an internship in your chosen career field (ie. Healthcare) year-round!
If you’d like to speak with a medical school admissions advisor who can help you with all aspects of your medical school application – including which extracurriculars and internship opportunities can give you a leg up – look into MedSchoolCoach. All their advisors have served on admissions committees and can help you boost your chances of getting accepted!
About the Author, Edward Chang MD
Dr. Chang is the co-founder of Prospective Doctor and is an admissions advisor at MedSchoolCoach. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology.