5 Ways to Prepare for a Medical Career While You’re Still in College

The demand for medical and healthcare professionals has always been high, which makes this a very popular field among high school and college students. However, the road to it is long and hard. Medical students typically spend years learning and training for their career, so an early start can only help!

Here are 5 tips that will help you prepare for a professional medical career before you’ve even graduated from college:

1. Make the Right Connections

Just like any other profession, networking makes a huge difference in your medical career, especially when you’re starting out.

Schedule interviews with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, to learn about different specialties and fields of medicine. Ask about their reasons for joining the industry, experience in med school, daily schedules, and what they like or don’t like about their work.

Volunteer or intern with a healthcare institution in your area, join professional or student associations, and collect letters of recommendation from your mentors, teachers and everyone else you work with. You never know when you might need them!

2. Do Meaningful Volunteer Work

Volunteering at a local hospital, clinic or other healthcare facility is a great way to prepare for medical school.

You may not be able to actually help with a patient’s health problems, but you can certainly provide meaningful contributions in other ways. Some things you could volunteer to do include assisting with paperwork, talking to patients or their visitors, reading to elderly patients or children, etc.

Along with helping you understand whether you are actually comfortable around ill or injured people, this also helps you during med school admissions. Working in facilities that serve low-income patients or those who don’t speak English speaking populations makes an even better impression.

3. Start USMLE Preparation in College

One thing that all medical students agree on is that the USMLE is one of the toughest medical exams in the world.

You have to take the USMLE exam if you want to open your own practice in the United States or work as a licensed medical professional with any healthcare institution. Because this licensing exam is so difficult to crack, don’t waste any time in preparing yourself to get through it someday.

Start looking for courses or training programs that will help you build your study for the USMLE exam and test-taking skills before you even start medical school. The more practice you have at planning study sessions and managing your time effectively, the better-equipped you will be for the real thing!

4. Look for Specialized Training

There are endless opportunities available in the field of healthcare and medicine, so start looking for the best fit.

Not every medical student is cut out to be a great doctor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do well in other specializations. Your skills and interests might make you a great medical assistant, patient counselor, medical records technician, billing or validation specialist, and so much else!

To find your own niche where you can shine, spend time with professionals in different aspects of medicine, ask them questions and observe their activities. After you have narrowed down a specific area of specialization, look for a course that will train you to be the best at it.

5. Show a Sense of Initiative

Doing something health-related on your own is a good way to show that you are passionate about the field.

While you’re in college, create a project that’s significant, helpful and oriented towards the healthcare sector. This could be a blog where you post articles about health and medicine, donation drives for underprivileged children at local hospitals, volunteer programs for assisted living facilities, etc.

Remember, you don’t just want to make an impression with your academic achievements and volunteer work, but also be sure you’re making the right kind of impression. A history of going the extra mile and caring for others looks great on medical school applications.

If you’re dreaming of a successful future in the healthcare industry, you need to start preparing with good study strategies for it as soon as possible. The more time and effort you put into it right now, the closer your dream will be after graduating from medical school!

Eric Brown is a standardized patient (SP) who lives in New York and advises NYCSPREP with their Clinical Skills course. He has a BA from a liberal arts college in the north east, where he majored in the tatrical arts and business (he credits the first for his ability to simulate real patients). He’s amassed years of experience as an SP and keeps up to date with CS exam expectations, trends and developments. When the Phillies are in town, Eric considers it his duty to support his home team. He won’t be seen without his trusty catcher’s mitt on these occasions, and prides himself on having caught more than one foul ball with it. If you have any questions about standardized CS exams or courses at NYCSPREP, email Eric at eric.brown@nycsprep.com or visit www.nycsprep.com


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