Health care is a very competitive field, even if you’re looking for small volunteering or internship positions. The reason is because there’s no room for mistakes when it comes to caring for other’s lives. Because of how competitive they are, you have to really want the position to make the best of your time and how you portray yourself while applying. Let’s go over some tactics to find opportunities in high school as well as make yourself stand out from other applicants.
How to find health care internships
Finding opportunities is difficult in health care but not impossible. Many students in high school want to go the Pre-med route in college, and health care internships are inarguably the best way to stand out, as they show you’re passionate and will give you an edge in medical settings, allowing you to discuss field experiences you’ve already had in your future admission essays.
Check with local hospitals
In my opinion, the best place for high school students looking to volunteer or find a health care internship is a large hospital, as there’s a wide variety of opportunities and exposure to different health care roles. Contact your local hospital to see if they need volunteers or have any high school internship positions open. In my town, volunteers at the local hospital answer call lights from patients, which requires no immediate contact with anyone. Usually, there will be a waitlist at most places because there tends to be an excessive number of applicants and not enough spots.
Improve your chances and be persistent
Often hospitals will take volunteers on a first come, first served basis, whereas some look for qualifications and select more specifically. If the hospital you’re applying to prefers qualifications, having your CPR certification and demonstrating knowledge about basic vitals is an excellent way to stand out. Take specific health classes at your school or local community college if you can as well. When some hospitals stop accepting applicants, most people move on because they see it as a closed opportunity. Instead, contact the volunteer coordinator or front desk to show your continued interest and specifically ask to be put on a waitlist. If you end up on the waitlist, email them every couple of months and ask how your application has progressed.
Look into free clinics and private practices
If you don’t have a local hospital or you’re on a waitlist and want to find more opportunities, look into free clinics in your area. These clinics could probably use an extra hand somewhere, as they run primarily on donations and volunteers—and depending on your area, they could be lacking in them. If that’s unavailable as well, try to contact private practices to shadow doctors. There are some other programs such as COPE Health Scholars, which can also give you more insight and experience into the medical field. The UCLA program specifically requires a certain amount of training and hours volunteered as well as a fee to join.
What to know about paid health care internship positions
Keep in mind most of these opportunities are not paid positions; if you want a paid position, you can apply to a Certified Nursing Assistant program if you’re at least 16 (age requirements may vary by state). CNAs usually work in hospitals and take care of patients’ dietary and hygienic needs as well as take vitals. Another paid job at a hospital is a medical assistant. They usually work in private practices and prepare patients before procedures, explain treatment to patients, and take medical histories. However, you must be at least 18 years old to work as one. If you’re not 18, it’s a good idea to start preparing early, then you could be once your birthday rolls around!
Whether you shadow a private doctor or volunteer at a large hospital, remember to always ask questions and show interest in what the doctor or nurse is doing. Through these health care internships and volunteer opportunities, you can figure out if medicine really is for you or solidify your passion further. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a better position to get into a great college for health care, and you’ll likely have someone to write you a great letter of recommendation!
Start looking for great colleges for health and medicine that will love your internship experience with our featured health college lists.