Not all of your application relies on your GPA and entrance exam scores and not all of being a good health professional does either. This is why we greatly promote getting as much experience as you can. Experience also helps solidify your career choice and can come in a variety of forms.
Experience can mean shadowing and observing various health care professionals. There is no special trick to starting this, you just have to start asking!
Perhaps start with your own family care professional. You can try approaching them in a variety of ways depending on how busy their office is - email, in person, hard copy letter, a combination of all three.
The main point is to not give up asking because once you get a "yes" from one person, they will inevitably give you the name of three more people to shadow who will then give you names of others, and so on.
Research allows you to engage classroom knowledge in a new setting where you can work closely with faculty and develop problem solving and analytical skills.
Not only do you gain an understanding of what it is like to work in a lab setting and learn the science behind the classroom, but you gain great skills as you work with a team. You also work independently, having others rely on you for quality work.
Each one of our professors on campus work on a research project. Ask them if they are currently working on something and what it is. If you are interested, ask if there is room for you to observe and learn more.
Even if you realize research isn't for you, at least you tried and you show curiosity, which is admired in professionals.
Internships come in a variety of forms, time spans, and locations from Huntsville to across the Globe.
One internship we promote every year is:
Huntsville Rural Pre-Medical Internship where students who are interested in becoming phsycians in rural Alabama are able to enhance their understanding of rural medicine and receive experience to increase their competitiveness for admission. This internship typically runs around late May to late June and is for Alabama residents who are second-years and Juniors. Applications are due in February.
As internships become available, they will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, the e-Newsletter, or this site.
Occasionally, you can gain an experience over an entire (or just part) of your summer. Perhaps it is working in an optometry office, doing community service, working with a faculty member on a research project, or taking a tour of a medical facility.
Maybe it is even joining a group of like-minded students on a service learning project in China as you observe dentists give back to children who don't have dental care.
For example, China Cal has a summer experience, which includes medical research, teaching, and clinical care in rural Yunnan Province, China and has internships open. Students assist in screenings and treatments of heart disease for adults and children living in townships. Participants travel and work with various faculty from all over. June, July, August, September & December 2012. Website | Application
Be aware: Applications for summer experiences usually happen much earlier than the summer! Plan around Jan and Feb to be applying.
As I find summer programs, I will post them on Facebook, the e-Newsletter, Twitter, or this site.