The information in this section will be helpful as you begin your journey of exploring the health professions while a student at F&M. Perhaps more importantly, this section will orient you to some of the resources available to you.
It is essential for all candidates to acquire some form of health profession experience before applying to medical school. This serves to demonstrate your commitment to a career in medicine but also provides you with necessary exposure to the practice of medicine. Medical schools want students who have a realistic view of what it takes to be a good physician and also some of the challenges to providing good medical care in today's climate. It is no longer good enough to just have a desire to be a physician you must understand the commitment you are making and have a realistic idea of what awaits you.
Get a part-time job at a local hospital. (You may have to start by doing clerical work but often that leads to other positions.)
Volunteer at a local health clinic (Some clinics providing free health care for uninsured individuals need help from volunteers.)
Shadow a physician either in the Lancaster community or back at home during winter or summer breaks (shadowing physicians from a variety of specialties such as Family Practice, Radiology, or Surgery can provide you with very different views of a physician's daily routine).
Look for opportunities to do Biomedical research in the summer. Many physicians who are on faculty at a medical school often have an active research program in addition to teaching and patient care.
Even the most competitive candidates for medical school will have a difficult time explaining to members of an Admissions Committee that they are willing to dedicate their professional life to caring for people if they have never made an effort up to that point to help people in need.
If you have gained health profession experience by volunteering your time at a health clinic you can include that experience on your applications but do not make the mistake of thinking that shadowing a doctor on your own time substitutes for community service. You need to show a commitment to helping people by volunteering your time. Many students have already done some form of volunteer work in their communities when in high school; however, do not stop there. If you put off doing additional volunteer work until your Junior year when you are starting to fill out your medical school applications it may seem that you are just interested in fulfilling an obligation. Start early in your undergraduate career.
Keep a diary and record of what you have done! Keep record of the following information:
The name of the clinic, hospital, or charitable organization.
How frequently you volunteered and for how long.
A description of your responsibilities.
Name(s) of individuals in charge.
Health professions students at F&M have an array of formal opportunities to take advantage of volunteer, internship, and observational programs at local hospitals, health clinics, and with alumni working in the health professions.
F&M's preceptorship program provides students with the opportunity to be paired with a physician, medical student, or other health professional for 2-3 hour weekly visits during which the students shadow the provider while he/she performs his/her duties. The student's role as the observer is to watch and ask questions in order to learn what real-life medicine is all about. We are fortunate to have a formal program with Lancaster General Hospital.
The preceptorship program with Lancaster General Hospital is designed to provide students interested in pursuing a medical career with exposure to the work of residents in family medicine as well as work in a variety of hospital departments. Its intent is also to increase the student's awareness of issues in medicine and health care, primarily from the perspective of the primary care physician. This program combines observational visits, lectures, and interaction with the assigned resident preceptors in family medicine. Students complete 15 hours of observation at the hospital, focusing on the general areas of acute care, in-patient services, out-patient services, and technology services.
Many health professions students also volunteer their time at Lancaster Regional Medical Center by serving as Cardiac Cath Lab Volunteers, Courier/Escorts, and Aides in Radiology, Physical and Occupational Therapy, and Admissions. The variety, self-satisfaction, and personal rewards are immense.
The majority of health professions students pursue independent research with faculty in and out of the sciences. You may pursue an independent study with a mentor in your major during the academic year as well as pursue a summer research opportunity through the College's Hackman Fellowship Program. This past summer, for instance, over 50 students were awarded Hackman research grants to conduct full-time research with F&M faculty.
For more information on summer opportunities, visit one or more of the following sites:
Each year, over 100 health professions students participate in formal preceptorship programs. In addition, those of you who are interested in other health professions are encouraged and assisted in setting up shadowing and/or other internship experiences with local health professionals (e.g., dentists, optometrists, veterinarians, physician assistants, physical therapists, podiatrists). Finally, F&M also has a network of alumni around the country who have volunteered to host current health professions students.