Enrolling in a pre-health enrichment program—a summer program, semester internship, volunteer position or part-time job—will give you practical work experience, build confidence and can help launch your health career before you’re out of school.
How can you make sure you make the most of your pre-health enrichment program?
Seek Out Unique Opportunities
Once you’re enrolled in a pre-health enrichment program, look for every opportunity to learn. Watch professional health workers in action. Ask questions, and once you’ve earned their trust, see if they’ll teach you how to perform simple procedures yourself. Hands-on learning is the best way to master new skills.
Focus on Developing your Practical Skills
You’ll work side by side with health professionals, helping patients, organizing equipment, managing records, and even assisting with procedures. The more skills you practice and learn, the more confidence you’ll build. As part of a health care team, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively and coordinate your efforts with those of your colleagues. You’ll discover how health workers keep track of multiple patients, cope with personality clashes, and ensure that the patient’s needs come first.
Keep a diary or a running list of the things you do during your enrichment program. You’ll use this information to make your resume more specific, to write application essays, and to stand out in college and job interviews. In your journal, record anecdotes about moments that demonstrate your new “people skills.” Employers often ask applicants to “tell us about a time when you” solved a problem, resolved a conflict, or faced up to a mistake.
Cultivate your “bedside manner” with patients and learn how to work effectively as part of a health care team. Look to the professionals that you work alongside for inspiration on how to become an even better medical provider.
Scout for Mentors
Build lasting relationships with health care professionals who can advise you now and throughout your career—and don’t drop them stop after the program ends! If you find a professional who you’d like to learn more from, be sure to get her contact information so you can follow up in the future to ask questions or even establish a mentor-mentee relationship.
As Dr. Kathleen Franco discusses in her News & World Report article about nailing medical school letters of recommendation, a glowing letter from a doctor, nurse or allied health professional will make your application to college or a healthcare training program stand out. Fortunately for you, your pre-health enrichment program is going to put you in direct contact with a lot of these health professionals! Impress them with your passion for service and dedication to learning and you may just score glowing recommendations for when you apply to health care school.