Medical schools look for students with impeccable grades, high test scores and a history of volunteer work and internships. With this in mind, it is important that you spend your summers expanding your field experience and knowledge base. When you begin your studies, you may want to plan a timeline of your courses, so you know which programs you'll be eligible for any given year.
Working or volunteering at a hospital will allow you to work with medical professionals, help your community and boost the credentials on your application. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) advises students to look into teaching hospitals and small hospitals, as medical staff at these facilities are used to fostering an environment of learning and collaboration. While searching for a position, look for programs that offer on-site training, mentoring programs, EMT certification programs and other guided learning opportunities.
In addition to applying for internships at hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges recommends that you look for internships in medical research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, government offices and other entities associated with human health. Working for these programs will not only provide you with more experience and practical knowledge with regard to medical science; it will also show you how the public and private sector work together to develop new medication, craft laws promoting human health and inform the public about disease outbreaks and medical breakthroughs.
Depending on the amount of time you spend on your summer programs, you may be able to take summer courses. Summer school courses take place over a shorter period of time, so you will likely attend class several hours per day and need several hours afterward to complete your readings and work. As such, this would be the ideal time to enroll in a course that is a graduation requirement for your school but isn't as mentally demanding as physics or chemistry.
MCAT Test Prep
The MCAT takes close to six hours to complete and can be physically and intellectually exhausting. Enrolling in a test preparation program or simply studying a test preparation book will help you to improve your MCAT score and make the process feel less daunting. You should also familiarize yourself with the controls on the computer exam, particularly if this is the only option available in your area. You may take the MCAT up to three times per year, so budget to take the test at least twice during your third year of premed in case you are unsatisfied with your initial score.
Since 2003, Momi Awana's writing has been featured in "The Hawaii Independent," "Tradewinds" and "Eternal Portraits." She served as a communications specialist at the Hawaii State Legislature and currently teaches writing classes at her library. Awana holds a Master of Arts in English from University of Hawaii, Mānoa.