Summer Plans for a Pre-Health Student

The school year is finally winding down and summer is fast-approaching! For many students, summer is the perfect time to relax, to soak up some sun, and to catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. However for pre-health students, summer can also be the perfect time to gain worthwhile experiences to boost your application.

What is the best way to spend my summer?
The truth is that the possibilities are endless. The best way to spend your summer really depends on what you want to accomplish. Is there a specific part of your application that is lacking? Do you need more volunteer hours? Do you need more clinical experiences or research? Do you need to boost your GPA? Or perhaps you have questions that you still need the answers to?

Before you start searching for experiences, I suggest that you sit down and take some time to ask yourself the questions above. What story are you trying to tell the admissions committee? Are you an individual who is passionate about working with underserved communities? Or are your passions driven by research? Or perhaps mentoring and advising? Once you start identifying who you are and what you are passionate about, then it will become much easier to navigate the internet for potential experiences. You will be able to narrow down your search and to eliminate opportunities that you don’t find interesting.

What is my story?
For me, I didn’t sit down and ask myself these questions until the end of my freshman year. Before spring quarter, I was really eager to dive into internships and to get involved, but I was overwhelmed by all the opportunities available. I didn’t know how to navigate campus resources and how to be selective about my experiences. I simply said “YES!” to the first internship that showed interest in me. This was a HUGE mistake because I was miserable in some of my first internships. I was so determined to find any internship that I forgot to stay honest with myself. So at the end spring quarter, I began to ask myself: Who are you really? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you want to be in the next few years? I realized that my passions were working with undeserved communities, children, and students. I wanted to pursue advising/tutoring and to gain clinical experience. With these desires in mind, I went to the Internship and Career Center and the Undergraduate Research Center to get help! They were able to help me narrow down my search to find experiences that accurately portrayed who I was as a person.

What types of experiences can I do?
There are countless opportunities that you can pursue, including:

Research 
Summer is the perfect time to do research. During the school year, it can be difficult and exhausting to juggle a full course load with 10-15 hours of research each week. But in the summer, you have much more time and energy to dedicate towards your lab work.
A common misconception is that laboratory research is the only kind that pre-health schools like. However, ALL research on the UC Davis campus is valuable. In addition to lab research, you can try clinical research and social science research. The most important thing is to find a project that truly interests you!
I recommend going to the Undergraduate Research Center as the first step. The URC advisors can help you to connect with professors that are doing research in a subject of your interest. They can also help you to draft a strong cover letter and resume.

Internships/Volunteering
Another thing you can do over the summer is internships. There are countless internship opportunities on the internet, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Health Related Internships (HRI)
    The HRI are unique to UC Davis. HRI are a wonderful first step to gaining clinical experience within a hospital setting. And the best part is that there is NO application or interview necessary! Simply sign up for a pass time and choose the position and time that works best for you. HRI span across many health-related fields including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nutrition, public health, and physical, occupational, and speech therapies. These internships can be a great way to learn more about what specialty you hope to pursue in the future.
  2. Medical Missions
    MEDLife and the Global Medical Brigades are two popular programs on campus that will allow you to travel while gaining hands-on clinical experience.
  3. Health-Related Internships through the Washington Program
  4. Volunteer at a Student Run Clinic
    UC Davis’ student-run clinics serve various underserved populations in the Sacramento community. Volunteering at a clinic will not only provide you with valuable clinical experience, it can also pave the way for future leadership opportunities!

Explore Your Hobbies and PassionsLastly, but most importantly, spend your summer doing something that you are passionate about. Admissions committees want to learn about who you are as an individual outside of school. Pursue your hobbies! Hang out with friends or even your dog! Read a book, go hiking, or maybe try something completely brand new. Whatever you choose to do, remember to stay true to you!

I hope you found this blog useful! Good luck with the rest of your quarter and have an amazing summer!

Victoria Nugent
4th year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Class of 2017
BASC Peer Advisor

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