MCAT Preparation: How to Get Pre-med Experience While in High School

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Getting pre-med experience during high school can be a valuable stepping stone towards becoming a healthcare professional. This article will explore various ways to gain practical pre-med experience while still in high school. From volunteering at local healthcare organizations to shadowing doctors, plenty of opportunities are available to kick-start your journey towards a successful medical career.

Read also: Power of Language Learning in High School: Unlocking Global Opportunities.

Why is Pre-Med Experience Important?

Obtaining pre-med experience during high school is of utmost importance for several reasons. Let’s delve deeper into why the pre-med experience holds such significance:

A. Exposure to the Medical Field: Engaging in pre-med experiences allows you to gain firsthand exposure to the medical field.

B. Skill Development: Pre-med experiences provide a platform for developing essential skills vital for success in the medical profession. These skills are crucial for effective patient care, collaboration with colleagues, and addressing complex medical issues.

C. Demonstrating Commitment: Admissions committees for medical schools look for applicants who have demonstrated a genuine and long-standing commitment to medicine. Engaging in pre-med experiences during high school showcases your dedication and passion for healthcare. It signifies that you have taken proactive steps to explore the field, understand its challenges, and gain practical knowledge, setting you apart from other applicants.

D. Building a Professional Network: Connecting with healthcare professionals, mentors, and peers during your pre-med journey can be invaluable.

E. Strengthening College Applications: Pre-med experience on your college application demonstrates your commitment to personal and academic growth. Admissions officers recognize the value of practical experiences in the medical field, which can significantly enhance your application. By showcasing your involvement in pre-med activities, you highlight your unique qualities, motivation, and potential to contribute to the medical community.

F. Confirming Career Choice: Pre-med experiences allow you to test the waters and clarify your career choice. While you may have a strong interest in medicine, practical experiences can help solidify your decision. By interacting with healthcare professionals, witnessing medical procedures, and understanding the challenges and rewards of the field, you can confirm whether pursuing a medical career aligns with your aspirations, interests, and values.

Volunteering at Healthcare Organizations

Here are some key reasons why volunteering at healthcare organizations is a rewarding and impactful experience:

A. Making a Difference

Whether providing comfort and companionship to elderly individuals, assisting in pediatric wards, or supporting patients through their healthcare journeys, your contribution can bring hope and happiness to those in need.

B. Gaining Practical Experience

Volunteering at healthcare organizations provides hands-on practical experience in a real-world healthcare setting. This exposure enhances your understanding of medical procedures, healthcare protocols, and the dynamics of patient-provider interactions.

Depending on the organization and your level of involvement, you may assist with tasks such as taking vital signs, preparing patient rooms, helping with administrative duties, or providing emotional support to patients.

C. Developing Empathy and Compassion

Working directly with patients allows you to develop empathy and compassion, essential qualities for any healthcare professional. Volunteering exposes you to individuals from diverse backgrounds facing various health challenges. By listening to their stories, understanding their struggles, and offering support, you cultivate empathy and learn to provide compassionate care.

Interacting with patients and their families teaches you to appreciate the importance of empathy in healthcare. These lessons in empathy and compassion will serve you well throughout your journey in the medical field.

D. Exploring Healthcare Careers

Volunteering at healthcare organizations provides valuable insights into different healthcare careers and specialities. Observing their work and engaging in conversations with them allows you to explore different career paths within the healthcare field.

E. Building Professional Networks

Volunteering at healthcare organizations allows you to establish connections with healthcare professionals, mentors, and fellow volunteers. These relationships provide valuable guidance, mentorship, and potential opportunities for future internships, research projects, or letters of recommendation.

By engaging with healthcare professionals, you can seek advice on educational pathways, learn about their personal experiences in the field, and gain insights into the healthcare system. Building a network of professionals and peers within the healthcare community can open doors to further opportunities and provide ongoing support as you navigate your pre-med journey.

F. Personal and Skill Development

Volunteering at healthcare organizations offers ample opportunities for personal and skill development. It helps cultivate essential qualities such as responsibility, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. Engaging in tasks and responsibilities within a healthcare setting enhances your ability to work collaboratively, follow instructions, and adapt to different situations.

Additionally, volunteering provides a chance to develop valuable transferable skills relevant to any career path. Volunteering allows you to hone these skills in a unique context, preparing you for future academic and professional endeavours.

Shadowing Doctors and Healthcare Professionals

Shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals is a valuable experience for high school students interested in pursuing a medical career. It provides a firsthand opportunity to observe and learn from professionals in the field, gaining insights into their daily responsibilities, patient interactions, and medical decision-making processes. Here are some key reasons why shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals is beneficial:

A. Exposure to Different Medical Specialties

Shadowing allows you to explore various medical specialities and witness the diverse range of healthcare professionals. It will enable you to see the multidisciplinary nature of healthcare and appreciate the collaborative efforts involved in providing comprehensive patient care.

B. Understanding Patient-Provider Interactions

Shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals provides valuable insights into the dynamics of patient-provider interactions. You can observe how doctors communicate with patients, gather medical histories, perform physical examinations, and explain diagnoses and treatment plans.

By witnessing these interactions, you learn the importance of effective communication, empathy, and active listening in establishing patient trust and rapport.

C. Observing Medical Procedures and Clinical Decision-Making

Shadowing offers a unique opportunity to observe medical procedures and the decision-making processes involved in patient care. Depending on the settings and permissions, you may have the chance to witness surgeries, clinical rounds, diagnostic procedures, or other medical interventions.

Observing these procedures and discussions among healthcare professionals allows you to appreciate the complexities of medical decision-making. You can see how doctors analyze symptoms, interpret test results, collaborate with colleagues, and develop treatment plans. This firsthand exposure deepens your understanding of the scientific principles, critical thinking, and evidence-based practices that underpin medical care.

D. Learning about Healthcare Systems and Ethics

Shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals exposes you to the broader healthcare system and the ethical considerations involved in patient care. You gain insights into healthcare professionals’ challenges and constraints in providing quality care, managing resources, and navigating ethical dilemmas.

E. Mentorship and Networking Opportunities

Shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals can provide mentorship and networking opportunities. By establishing professional connections, you may find mentors who can offer guidance, advice, and support as you pursue your medical journey.

Building relationships with healthcare professionals allows you to seek insights into their career paths, educational journeys, and the challenges they have faced. Their mentorship can provide invaluable guidance on academic preparation, selecting medical schools, and navigating the application process. Moreover, these connections may lead to future internships, research opportunities, or letters of recommendation.

F. Personal and Professional Growth

Shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals fosters personal and professional growth.

Through shadowing experiences, you cultivate essential qualities such as professionalism, empathy, adaptability, and cultural competence. You learn to navigate healthcare environments, respect patient privacy, and maintain confidentiality. These experiences contribute to your overall personal development, enhancing your interpersonal skills and preparing you for future interactions in the medical field.

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Participating in Research Programs

Here are some key reasons why participating in research programs is beneficial:

A. Exploration of Scientific Concepts

Engaging in research programs allows you to explore scientific concepts beyond the classroom. You can dive deeper into topics of interest, develop research questions, and design experiments to investigate them.

This experience fosters critical thinking skills and hones your ability to formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and draw evidence-based conclusions.

B. Exposure to Cutting-Edge Research

Participating in research programs exposes you to cutting-edge advancements in the medical field. You can work alongside researchers pushing the boundaries of knowledge and contributing to groundbreaking discoveries.

Engaging in research gives you a firsthand glimpse into the latest technologies, methodologies, and scientific breakthroughs. This exposure allows you to witness the dynamic nature of research, the collaboration among scientists, and the interdisciplinary approaches used to tackle complex medical challenges.

C. Development of Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

As you design experiments, collect and analyze data, and interpret results, you learn to think critically and objectively. You develop the ability to identify patterns, recognize outliers, and draw meaningful conclusions from complex datasets.

This experience strengthens your ability to troubleshoot, adapt research protocols, and develop innovative solutions to overcome obstacles.

D. Collaboration and Communication

Through this collaboration, you develop teamwork skills, learn from the expertise of others, and contribute to collective research goals.

Working in a research setting also hones your communication skills. You learn to effectively convey your research findings, present your work at conferences or symposiums, and write research reports or papers. These communication skills are essential for sharing scientific knowledge and contributing to the scientific community.

E. Exploration of Research Interests and Career Paths

Engaging in research programs allows you to explore your research interests and potential career paths within the medical field.

By working closely with researchers and professionals, you can seek guidance and mentorship regarding research careers, educational pathways, and future opportunities.

F. Impact on College Applications and Scholarships

Participating in research programs significantly strengthens your college applications and scholarship opportunities. Admissions committees and scholarship panels value research experiences as they demonstrate initiative, intellectual curiosity, and a commitment to academic excellence.

Including research experiences in your applications allows you to showcase your passion for scientific inquiry, ability to work independently and collaboratively, and potential to contribute to the research community.

Joining Medical Clubs and Organizations

Here are some key reasons why joining medical clubs and organizations is beneficial:

A. Networking and Peer Support

Medical clubs and organizations offer opportunities to connect and network with peers with similar interests and aspirations.

Networking with fellow members allows you to exchange ideas, share experiences, and support one another.

B. Access to Resources and Guest Speakers

Medical clubs and organizations often provide access to valuable resources and guest speakers who can enhance your understanding of the medical profession. These resources may include books, journals, online platforms, or educational materials that can deepen your knowledge in various healthcare-related subjects.

Guest speakers, such as healthcare professionals, researchers, or medical school admissions officers, can provide valuable insights and guidance. They can share their experiences, offer career advice, and provide helpful information about academic pathways, internships, and volunteer opportunities in the medical field.

C. Hands-on Activities and Skill Development

Medical clubs and organizations often organize hands-on activities and events that allow you to develop practical skills relevant to the medical profession. These activities range from medical simulations and workshops to community service projects and health awareness campaigns.

You can learn basic medical procedures, practice clinical skills, and develop teamwork, leadership, and communication qualities. These experiences enrich your understanding of healthcare and contribute to personal and professional growth.

D. Exposure to Healthcare Careers and Specialties

Joining medical clubs and organizations exposes you to a wide range of healthcare careers and specialities. This exposure helps you make informed decisions about your future career path.

E. Leadership and Service Opportunities

Medical clubs and organizations often provide opportunities for leadership and service. You can take on leadership roles within the club, such as serving as an officer or organizing events.

Furthermore, these groups often engage in community service activities related to healthcare. These experiences are fulfilling and enhance your personal growth and character development.

F. College and Career Advancement

Being a member of medical clubs and organizations can significantly contribute to your college and career advancement. These extracurricular involvements demonstrate your passion for the medical field, commitment to learning, and engagement in activities beyond the classroom.

Including your participation in medical clubs and organizations on college applications showcases your initiative, leadership, and ability to work collaboratively. It highlights your personal and professional development dedication, setting you apart from other applicants.

Additionally, involvement in medical clubs and organizations can open doors to scholarships, internships, research opportunities, and letters of recommendation.

Engaging in Community Service

These experiences show your generosity and highlight your ability to work in diverse settings and collaborate with a team.

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Building Strong Relationships with Teachers and Mentors

Nurturing relationships with your high school teachers and mentors can immensely benefit your pre-med journey. They can provide guidance, write recommendation letters, and connect you with relevant opportunities. Take advantage of office hours, seek advice, and demonstrate your passion for medicine. Building solid relationships with these individuals can open doors to internships, research projects, and other valuable experiences.

Exploring Online Resources for Pre-Med Students

The internet provides numerous streams of wealth of resources for pre-med students. Explore reputable websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to the medical field. These online platforms offer information on medical specialities, application processes, and study tips. Stay updated with the latest research findings and healthcare news to expand your knowledge and demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning.

Balancing Pre Med Experience with Academic Demands

While gaining pre-med experience is crucial, it is equally important to maintain a balance with your academic demands. Allocate your time wisely, prioritize your studies, and develop practical time management skills. Strive for excellence in both your academic pursuits and pre-med experiences.

Overcoming Challenges and Staying Committed

The expedition to a career in medicine can be challenging and demanding. Staying committed, persevering through obstacles, and maintaining your motivation is essential. Remember your passion for healthcare and the difference you aspire to make in people’s lives.

Taking Relevant High School Courses

Here are some key reasons why taking relevant high school courses is beneficial:

A. Building a Strong Academic Foundation

Relevant high school courses lay the groundwork for a solid academic foundation. Subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics provide the fundamental knowledge and principles crucial to understanding the scientific concepts underlying medicine.

This foundation prepares you for college-level coursework and enhances your ability to comprehend and excel in more advanced medical subjects.

B. Gaining Exposure to Medical Concepts

High school courses focusing on health sciences or medical topics offer valuable exposure to medical concepts even before entering college. This knowledge is a solid foundation for future medical studies and facilitates a smoother transition into more advanced coursework.

C. Preparing for College-Level Science Courses

Taking relevant high school courses prepares you for the rigorous science courses you will encounter at the college level.

You can confidently approach college-level coursework and perform at a higher level by already having a solid understanding of core scientific principles and concepts.

D. Demonstrating Academic Strength and Commitment

Taking relevant high school courses demonstrates your academic strength and commitment to your future career in the medical field. Admissions committees for colleges and universities, especially those with competitive pre-med programs, look for candidates who have challenged themselves academically and excelled in science and math courses.

By taking advanced high school courses, you showcase your dedication to academic excellence and ability to handle medical education’s rigour. This commitment to your education helps distinguish you as a motivated and capable candidate for admission into reputable pre-med programs.

F. Exploring Interests and Confirming Career Path

Taking relevant high school courses allows you to explore your interests within the medical field and confirm your career path. It provides a glimpse into the various disciplines and specializations available within healthcare, helping you determine which areas align best with your interests and strengths.

This exploration can help guide your decisions when selecting a college major, pursuing internships, and applying to medical schools that align with your career goals.


You were getting pre-med experience while in high school is a valuable investment in your future medical career. Remember to balance your academic commitments with your pre-med pursuits and stay dedicated to your goals.


Can high school students participate in medical research programs?

Yes, many universities and research institutions offer summer programs specifically designed for high school students interested in medical research. These programs provide opportunities to work alongside researchers and contribute to ongoing projects.

How can volunteering at healthcare organizations benefit high school students?

Volunteering at healthcare organizations allows high school students to gain practical experience, interact with patients, and develop valuable skills.

Are there online resources for high school students interested in pre-med?

There are numerous online resources available for high school students interested in pre-med.

What is the role of high school teachers and mentors in the pre-med journey?

High school teachers and mentors can provide guidance, write recommendation letters, and connect students with relevant opportunities. Building solid relationships with these individuals can open doors to internships, research projects, and other valuable experiences.

How can high school students balance pre-med experience with academic demands?

Balancing pre-med experience with academic needs requires effective time management and prioritization. High school students should allocate their time wisely, develop study schedules, and strive for excellence in their academic pursuits and pre-med experiences.

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