If you are pursuing a medical degree, then you already know there are numerous careers to choose from within the industry. You may have an interest in more than one medical path. You may find the administrative side of medicine interesting but also desire a career working with patients in a clinical setting.
Trying to make a final decision on which avenue to take can be confusing. One day you see yourself as a surgeon and the next day you want to work in pharmaceuticals. Because you can’t do it all, because no one can do it all, it’s important you consider everything about the roles in which you are interested.
Internships are a great way to help you narrow down your career choices and gain the necessary skills you need post-graduation, when you become an employee.
What is An Internship?
Internships are opportunities for college students to work in the medical field and gain hands-on experience in a specific area. Internships can vary in length, depending on how many hours are required by the college.
Internships offer students exceptional learning opportunities to implement what they have learned in the classroom into real world experiences. You get to work directly with professionals, you improve your interpersonal skills by working closely with other staff, and it can build your confidence to help you do a good job.
Internships can give you practice in paying attention to details, problem-solving, quick decision-making, and adapting to changing work environments. You will learn to work with a team and improve your communication skills with doctors, nurses, staff, patients and even family members of patients.
Most importantly, internships help you figure out which career path you want to enter.
Below are some of the best internships for someone pursuing a medical degree.
As a nursing intern, you will be working with other nurses, likely a registered nurse who oversees staff and can help you get involved in patient treatment. They can further your education by applying what you learned in class to treating patients.
The nursing field is varied, and you can choose an internship based on your likes and dislikes. If you prefer working with children, you can intern with a pediatric nursing unit. If you prefer research, you can work in a laboratory with other clinical workers collecting data.
Other areas for nursing internships include bilingual, community health, administration, emergency rooms, and even in the school setting.
Clinical Lab Intern
Working as an intern in a clinical lab allows you to analyze chemicals and fluids collected from patients. You will be assisting medical personnel by preparing samples needed for examination. You may be taking blood, collecting urine samples, or running an ultrasound machine. Each day may bring a different set of tasks.
You will improve your documentation and recording skills, as well as help prepare reports, assist patients with paperwork, and following safety procedures.
Opportunities for internships can take place in a hospital, physicians office, or stand-alone laboratories, to name a few.
You may enjoy making changes within the healthcare industry. You may be able to see a problem, discover a solution, and fight for change that benefits all within the industry. If this sounds like you, the working as a policy intern can help you gain more insight about this field.
Policies within the medical field are established to protect patients, doctors and everyone else within the industry. However, some policies are found to be faulty, or need to be adapted based on changes going on in the world.
This is where you can shine if you like researching, identifying and making reforms to policies that need adjusting. As an intern, you can gain experience drafting news alerts, memos, and attending meetings with other policy makers.
Healthcare Administration Intern
Administration in any career typically deals with human resources, finances, rules and regulations for the organization, management of staff and keeping the company in compliance. This is no different for the healthcare administrator.
As an intern, you will work directly with an administrator of a healthcare agency, completing tasks they assign. You can choose to intern under pharmacists, community health center directors, consultants and in any type of medical institution.
Whether it is an inpatient treatment facility or an outpatient family practice, there are opportunities for you to expand your knowledge through an internship.
Working as an intern in a pharmaceutical setting may be harder to get if you are not studying pharmacy in some form. For instance, pharmacy technician students may have a higher chance of landing an internship in a pharmacy.
Landing an internship in a pharmacy prepares you for working with the public and teaches you how to be organized, keep detailed records, and what it would be like working in a high paced environment.
The skills you can learn interning in a pharmacy can carry over to any other medical career.
How to Get an Internship
Getting an internship in the medical field can be just as competitive as when applying for a full-time position. There are specific skills the employer will want you to have before they hire you. And the application process is a time where you can showcase the talents you have already acquired.
Communication skills, time management, teamwork, and your ability to analyze a situation and make good decisions based on what you know. Employers want interns who can work independently but also receive direction. You should also be able to handle constructive criticism with professionalism. After all, you are still in the learning phase of your career.
Being able to quickly learn the software used in the medical facility is a must. Resistance to change, especially when it comes to technology, will not help you when trying to land an internship. Show them you can adapt and that you are eager to improve your skills.
The internship period is a brief period, but it offers experience that will last you a lifetime.