Physicians support and manage the health care of people of all ages. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, recommend and provide treatment, conduct research, and advise patients on their overall health and well-being. While there are many different types of physicians, they can usually be divided into three broad categories:
- Primary care physicians are the doctors patients usually visit most frequently. They treat a wide range of illnesses and regularly provide preventive care, and they also enjoy long-term relationships with their patients. Pediatricians, family practitioners and general internists are primary care physicians.
- Surgeons perform operations to treat diseases and repair injuries.
- Specialists have expertise related to specific diseases as well as body parts, organs, and systems. Cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, and ophthalmologists are examples of specialists. The AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website contains information about various specialties in medicine.
Read more about choosing a medical career, including becoming a doctor, education, lifestyle, and salary on the Association of American Medical Colleges website.
Begin your pre-med related research with the Pre-Health Studies at GU website which offers a lot of advice online and in workshops on how to prepare. Also, learn about the Pre-Health Recommendation Committee and the Early Assurance Program (EAP) at GU School of Medicine. In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides advice on all topics, including taking the MCAT, basics on medical school and expert advice, fee assistance program, and the Medical Minority Applicant Registry. In short, you will want to explore the pre-health studies at GU and AAMC websites in depth.
There are numerous professional associations representing the various specialties in the medical field. See a full list of professional associations on the Meditec website. Once you become a medical student and eventually a physician, you will join the American Medical Association. Professional associations host a variety of professional development, educational, and networking events. If the cost of membership is prohibitive, contact leadership and ask if there are sliding scale prices for students. Volunteering for a conference, educational, or social event is another great way to connect with leaders in the industry.
Last, be sure to read trade magazines, newsletters, and popular websites to keep informed on the latest in science and medicine. Places to start include MedicalNewsToday, ScienceDaily, MedPageToday, and AMA Press Releases.
- To learn more about careers in medicine, check out the Vault Career Guide to Allied Health Care Careers and Explorehealthcareers.org.
- To help choose medical schools to apply, review the U.S. News & World Report’s Top Medical Schools.
- Attend medical fairs sponsored by AAMC.
Gaining Experience and Making Connections
Gaining experience can take many forms, from joining clubs on campus to volunteering to gaining research and clinical experience. It is recommended to gain a wide variety of experience to share on your application, and yet, be careful to balance your academics with these activities. Pre-health studies shares examples of how you might gain experience. Be sure to register on Handshake for healthcare-related internships and research opportunities as well. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides a listing of summer opportunities, summer undergraduate research programs and summer enrichment programs. For underrepresented college students, the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is a free summer enrichment program focused on you, both academically and in career development, for a successful application.
Georgetown offers a number of opportunities for Hoyas to get involved. Joining a school club is an excellent way to learn more about the industry, develop your skills, and get hands-on experience. Some nursing-related clubs and councils include Pre-Medical Society, Pre-Dental Society, and Georgetown University Minority Association of Pre- Health Students. Gain hands-on experience on campus with the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) or the Hypothermia Outreach team (in the Center for Social Justice). Give back to the D.C. and campus community by volunteering with groups, such as Project Sunshine Georgetown, Caring for Children with Cancer, CU Oncology Patient Support. Breast Cancer Outreach, St. Elizabeth’s Outreach, and Hoya Blood Donors. Travel outside of the U.S. with GlobeMed or Center for Social Justice Alternative breaks (such as JUHAN Oaxaca) or in the D.C. area with GU Students for Health and Medical Equity to serve communities that lack adequate access to healthcare and more. Participate in research and get published in the peer-reviewed Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences or present at the Undergraduate Research Conference.
Also, clinical trials and studies may need research assistants. Visit any research university or review the NIH’s clinical trial website to identify and contact researchers to who might need assistants. The NIH Reporter allows you to look up all research funded by various factors, including location, study area, etc. If you are interested in working at a hospital, hospitallink.com can help you identify hospitals in the region you’re interest in.
Furthermore, reach out to alumni through Hoya Gateway to speak with an alumnus about their career path and/or job shadow. The Cawley website provides helpful guidelines on networking and building your LinkedIn profile.
Applying to Medical School
Pre-health studies has developed a helpful checklist for all class levels to review as it pertains to applying to medical school, in addition to information on materials such as the essay, transcripts, resume, and letters of recommendations. All schools use some form of a central application service. Allopathic (MD) applicants use the AMCAS service. Osteopathic (DO) applicants use the AACOMAS service. Dental applicants use the AADSAS application, etc. The AMCAS application opens in late spring – usually on May 1. This gives you about a month to work on your application before the submission opening date – usually in early June. Submitting as early as possible is always advantageous, but it is not critical that you submit on the opening day. You should submit your application when it is complete, error free, and you are confident that all your written materials are in the best form possible. See the pre-health studies website for information on recommendation letters and essays. You will use the 2018 Application and AMCAS Instruction Manual (PDF).
The Savvy Pre-Med is a helpful resource to learn application news and tips along the way. For example, watch this video to answer the question, “What are my chances of getting into medical school?” Be sure to sign up for the blog posts. To prepare for the MCAT, check out these articles and resources from the AAMC and consider using Khan Academy to prepare. Last, the following are recommended webinars to learn more about the application process.
- Applying to Medical School, Bill Higgins, NIH
- Essays for Acceptance, AMCAS
- Writing Personal Statements for Professional School, Bill Higgins, NIH
- Preparing for your Interview for Professional School, Bill Higgins, NIH
Gap or Bridge Year
You may take a year or two to strengthen your application with a post-baccalaureate premedical program or a year of working in a research, service, or healthcare setting. Enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program may offer you a chance to strengthen your transcript and knowledge base before you apply to medical school, and can be a good bridge between your undergraduate studies and medical school. Read seven benefits of bacc programs in this article. AAMC has directory of post-baccalaureate programs.
If you are seeking a short-term work experience during a gap year, Handshake has full-time positions and fellowship listings and this spreadsheet provides a listing of typical gap year experiences to consider. This article outlines gap year options.
Be sure to visit with your pre-med advisor. If you are not yet on the pre-med listserv, email email@example.com to request access.