Summers for premed students are super super important . I can’t over emphasize how important it is for pre-health students to do something productive during their summer breaks. Summer provide an opportunity to add some of the necessary experiences that help make up a competitive application for professional school. This post is long, but valuable. Take it in sections.
I: DO’S AND DON’T’S FOR PRE-MED SUMMER
– Do something that will somehow help support your application when you apply to professional school. This doesn’t necessarily mean research, but you want to do something that enhances your application in a positive way. It should be something that helps in your personal growth, demonstrates traits about you that are unique; or demonstrates traits professional schools are looking for.
DO HAVE A PLAN
– Planning is the cornerstone to for success and decreased stress as a pre-health student. The only way to ensure you don’t end up doing nothing during the long long days of summer is to have a plan. Having a plan means you know what things smart premeds do with their summers AND you have things arranged for how you will be able to engage in those activities.
DON’T GO HOME AND WASTE AWAY
– Whatever you’re doing, it has to be something that you can frame to help you be a more competitive applicant for professional school. Do not go home and chill, work at a retail clothing store.
II: COMMON THINGS STUDENTS DO DURING THE SUMMER
FRESHMAN: Shadowing, volunteering, taking classes. Some premeds do not take general chemistry as freshmen. If you that’s you, consider taking it in the summer after your freshman year. If you don’t take general chemistry as a freshman, you will have to take it during the summer if you want to course through undergrad without having to take a gap year.
Scenario A: Freshman year no chemistry. Sophomore year: General chemistry Junior Year: Organic Chemistry. Senior year: Biochemistry. This student can’t take the MCAT or apply to medical school until the summer AFTER senior year because Biochem is on the MCAT.
Scenario B: Freshman year: General chemistry. Sophomore year: Organic Chemistry. Junior Year: Biochemistry. This student can take the MCAT/ apply to medical school the summer between the junior and senior year
SOPHOMORE: This summer is typically spent engaging in summer research, or a summer enrichment program (preferably on with shadowing as a part of the program!) Can also use this time to get more volunteering hours. Look for volunteer opportunities in a setting where you are serving others, meeting the needs of the underserved, or oft forgotten ( elderly, children, those with physical or intellectual disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, the homeless, immigrant population, populations unlike yourself.
JUNIOR: Finishing up last minute MCAT prep, getting in some last shadowing hours. A well disciplined student who can commit to preparing for and taking the MCAT in May, can consider research during this summer. Otherwise I DO NOT advise doing research during this summer while last chance ( aka midnight hour) studying for the MCAT, during those last 4-6 weeks before taking a late June or early July test.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON A PREMED STUDENT SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO FIND SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE TO DO DURING THE SUMMER! OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND! YOU JUST HAVE TO SEEK AND PLAN.
III: HOW TO APPROACH YOUR SEARCH
There are tons and tons of opportunities. Don’t see that as overwhelming. Rather see that as more opportunities that you can compete for, and a greater likelihood that you’ll get one. So here are some tips to sift through these lists.
Before you even begin to think about looking at programs, you have to have some way to keep track of important information. You want to make your search productive. So first: CREATE A SPREADSHEET ON YOUR COMPUTER, or USE INDEX CARDS to write down the elements of the different programs you will be searching for. As you look up programs and decide you’re going to apply, you want to know several things: duration of the program, start/end dates, application deadline, compensation, number of recommendations you need, other program requirements.
- The location approach: “Hmm…I think it would be really cool to live in NYC at some point in my life.” Think of some cities you want to visit and see and spend time. Use the AAMC database and do a query for programs in those cities or states.
- The dream school approach: “Hmm…I really want to go to UAB for dental school. That’s my dream school.”Then consider looking for summer program at that school. Doing a summer program there gives you the opportunity to make connections and potentially get your foot in the door.
- The homebody approach: “Hmm…I know I need to do something productive, but I also know I need to be home and get my mom’s yummy cooking.” If this is you, then limit to your search to places closer to home or within driving distance of mom.
- The random approach: “Hmm…I’m just gonna go down this RIT list and pick some at random based on the descriptions given and see what I get.”
IV: TROUBLE-SHOOTING TIPS
- If you click on a link and get an error message, don’t despair. Simply google: “summer premed research program at ____________ (whatever university the original link was for).
- If you click on a link and the application is for 2019. Don’t give up and say Dr. Haughton’s post is useless. Simply google “summer premed research program at ___________(whatever university the original link was for). If that still doesn’t work, it is possible that the application for 2020 is not yet available, but you can estimate that the deadline will be around the dates of last years deadline, so you can keep that date in mind as your prepare the application materials, then check back in a week or two for the updated application. If that still doesn’t work, look and see if there is a program coordinator or contact on the 2018 application. You can contact that person and ask when the 2020 application will be available.
- DON’T GIVE UP! THERE ARE TONS OF PROGRAMS. IF ONE LINK DOESN’T WORK, AND THE OTHER TIPS ABOVE DON’T WORK, MOVE ON TO THE NEXT, CHECK OUT THE REQUIREMENTS AND APPLY!!!!
V: SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES
- AAMC Summer Program Database A great place to start with looking for programs. Has a searchable database where you can look by location, or program type, etc.
- ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Massive database of summer programs. This differs from the AAMC list, in that it also includes opportunities in industry as well as in academic.
- SHPEP A program so dear to my heart, it deserves it’s own listing. I love SHPEP. I did this program as a sophomore and I just love it and highly recommend it. It doesn’t pay as much as summer research but the relationships, the advising, and connections one can make are valuable.
- WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY LIST OF PROGRAMS . List of programs compiled by Wesleyan University. https://www.wesleyan.edu/careercenter/students/health/summer-post-bac-opportunities.html#
- SWARTHMORE LIST OF PROGRAMS. INCLUDES SOME DENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMS LIST OF DENTAL PROGRAMS
6. LIST OF DENTAL PROGRAMS Not a long list, but a list none the less.
7. TULANE LIST. This list has something some of the others don’t. It has lists of clinical opportunities, international opportunities, and summer camps,
Alright, that’s it. Happy searching! Please don’t let the summer catch you working at The Gap!