Opportunities for Experience
There are several ways you can gain experience and get involved. These activities and experiences build your application. Great opportunities for experience include: research, volunteering, shadowing, studying abroad, participation in a summer program, tutoring, mentoring, teaching, and participation in recreational sports. Always remember to be yourself and do what you enjoy. Some tips on how to get involved are in the video Getting Involved as a Pre-Health Student [VIDEO].
Evidence-based medicine relies heavily on research for new innovations and treatments. While not mandatory, research experience is looked on favorably by admissions committees. Most people think bench research, the lab coats and petri dishes is the only kind of research. If that's not your interest, there are actually a couple of different kinds of research, which can benefit your health profession profile.
Clinical research is just like it sounds! Normally you're working on quality improvement or recruiting patients for clinical trials. Clinical research can also be focused on helping patients navigate the health care system, medical device technology or screening tests. One of the best parts is that you can conduct clinical research in an academic setting or in a private practice clinic or any size medical facility in-between. The benefit to clinical research is that oftentimes you're interacting with patients. Not only will you gain new skills and valuable research experience, this hands-on time with patients can be an asset in a personal statement or in a medical school interview.
Social Science Research
Social science research focuses more on sociology and statistics than clinical or medical applications. It usually involves less time in clinical or directly medical settings, but can still involve working with a lot of people. Social science research also has implications for understanding human behavior, which can be essential for understanding your patients. Social science research experience is also growing in importance since the social sciences section has been added to the new MCAT. All in all, social science research can build useful people skills and a stronger knowledge base for the MCAT.
Bench research is the typical type of pre-med research that comes to mind when we think of research opportunities, but that doesn't mean it's any less valuable. Working in a lab with tissues, specimens and cell cultures will give you valuable microbiology tools for medical school and potential pathology rotations. Bench research will give you practical skills for handling specimens. It can be a great topic to discuss during your interviews, especially if your research yields interesting results or you get published. You will also greatly increase your basic science knowledge.
- The CSULB BUILD Program offers intensive research training opportunities for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in health-related research.
- The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is home to a number of undergraduate research training programs through the National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation. Each program serves a unique population of students and offers participating students extensive access to faculty and research labs while providing a stipend.
- With a primary emphasis on faculty-student research engagement, the Office Research and Sponsored Programs provides leadership, information, direction, resources, training and technical assistance to faculty and students engaged in externally funded research, instruction, community service and other scholarly activities.
Patient contact is enormously valuable to pre-health students. Shadowing medical professionals and volunteering at hospitals or clinics both provide opportunities for you to interact with patients in a healthcare setting.
Shadowing physicians, dentists, pharmacist, and other medical professionals helps you to:
- understand the challenges and rewards of the health profession
- envision yourself as the health professional
- clarify and solidify your career goals.
Volunteering and sustained clinical experience helps you to:
- understand the ways in which hospitals or clinics function
- understand the teamwork involved in providing good medical care
- demonstrate your commitment to and understanding of the profession to health professional schools
- find inspiration to endure the challenges of your pre-health courses
- remind youself of your ultimate goal.
There are many hospitals, clinics, and care centers in Long Beach. Any opportunity providing quality experience is good. Here are a few contacts for large hospitals in the area.
- VA Long Beach Voluntary Service Office
- Long Beach Memorial Volunteer Office
- Miller Children's and Women's Hospital Long Beach
- Community Hospital Long Beach
- St. Mary Medical Center– Health Scholar Program
Certificate Programs to Gain Paid Positions
If you are interested in patient contact via a paid position, a certificate program can be a good investment of time and money to find these opportunities. Some programs can be completed over a summer while others can take up to two semesters.
- Dental Assistant Certificate
Dental assisting certificate programs offer instruction in the clinical and administrative aspects of the dental business. Students are prepared to aid dentists by managing patient information, preparing instruments and assisting with dental.
- EMT Certificate Programs
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are often the first responders to medical crises. The skills that students may obtain in EMT-Basic certificate programs allow them to administer critical first aid and life support to ill or injured patients.
- EKG Technician Certificate Program
This 50-hour program will prepare you to become an EKG technician, which involves monitoring and recording electrical impulses transmitted by the heart. The course includes hands-on labs and practice with EKG equipment, and prepares you to take the ASPT-Electrocardiograph Technician exam and other National Certification exams.
- Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate Program
Prepare for an exciting, challenging, and rewarding career in healthcare with 140 hours of classroom lecture, hands-on labs, and a clinical externship opportunity at a local healthcare provider. This program will train you to assist physicians and covers important topics such as phlebotomy, pharmacology, medication use and administration, taking and documenting vital signs, cardiology, and more.
- Pharmacy Technician Certification
Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists by providing medication and health care products to patients. They typically help in the preparation of prescribed medications by conducting tasks such as labeling and tablet counting.
- Physical Therapy Aide Certificate Program
The purpose of physical therapy is to restore loco-motor function to the human body through alleviating and correcting movement dysfunction. This comprehensive Physical Therapy Aide program will prepare you for the growing field of Physical Therapy. The Physical Therapy Aide is generally responsible for carrying out the non-technical duties of physical therapy, such as preparing treatment areas, ordering devices and supplies, and transporting patients working under the direction of the physical therapist. Physical Therapy Aides may be employed in nursing homes, hospitals, sports rehabilitation centers, and some orthopedic clinics.
Paid Positions with No Certification Needed
The following may offer paid positions that do not require certification.
- Proof Positive ABA Therapies
Proof Positive ABA Therapies is an experienced organization of qualified therapists providing effective treatment for children with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Rett's Disorder, PDD-NOS and related disorders in all of Southern California.
- Summer and Gap Year Opportunities [PDF]
- AAMC Enrichment Programs
- Atlantis - International Hospital Shadowing Fellowships
- AAMC Summer Undergraduate Research Programs
- Bridging the Gaps Summer Research Program at USC
- Cope Health Scholar Program
- KGI Summer Explore MED
- Maternal Child Health Careers/Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement - Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP)
- Public Health Leadership and Learning Undergraduate Success
- SHPEP, Summer Health Professions Education Program
- Summer Opportunities Database
- UCLA Prep
As an aspiring health professional, you'll want to find likeminded students who share your motivation and passion for healthcare and build a network to support you through your pre-health undergraduate studies and into school acceptance. Pre-health clubs on campus will expose you to a diverse group of students who also aspire to a career in healthcare. The primary goal of nearly all pre-health clubs on campus is to connect students to experiences and volunteer opportunities so that they can begin to explore a career in healthcare and provide service to those who may not otherwise have access to medical care.
- American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
AMSA is committed to improving health care and health care delivery to all people; promoting active improvement in medical education; involving its members in the social, moral and ethical obligations of the profession of medicine. Contact: AMSACSULB@gmail.com
- Association of Pre-Pharmacy (APP)
The APP exists to facilitate connections between pre-pharmacy students and pharmacists through speakers and field trips. Contact: email@example.com
- Flying Samaritans
Flying Samaritans educates the community about public health; local and abroad service volunteer opportunities. Contact: Flyingsams.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Long Beach Pre-Dental
The Pre-Dental Club brings together CSULB students who have an interest in dentistry and help them succeed in their pursuit to dental school. Contact: email@example.com
- MEDLIFE Chapter
MEDLIFE sends students abroad to help underserved communities in developing countries by taking part in projects and mobile clinics. It also understand that there are disparities in the community so it volunteers locally to help end those disparities. Contact: Medlife.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minority-Focused Alliance of Pre-Health Students (MAPS)
MAPS provides students with resources on medical/health-related professional school, and health careers by offering opportunities to pre-health conferences, medical school preview days, health fair volunteering, and guest speakers. Its focus is in serving those on the minority community healthcare. Contact: CSULBMAPS10@gmail.com
- United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
UNICEF is an internationally renowned humanitarian organization dedicated to providing medical aid and education to women and children in impoverished and underserved communities across the globe. Contact: UNICEFCSULB@gmail.com