Back in the 1970s and 80s it was fairly common for high school students to go to work as an intern at a local business during the summer months. As interns the students wouldn’t get paid, but they would gain valuable insight about what it was like to work in a specific job sector. The programs worked fairly well wherever they were tried. Yet for some unknown reason, internships seemed to dwindle to the point that they barely exist anymore.
In the healthcare field a growing number of medical schools and healthcare facilities are beginning to resurrect the idea of the internship. They’ve discovered one of the best ways to get high school students interested in a medical career is to actually allow them some hands-on experience for a couple of months at a time. Those who are truly intrigued are more likely to go on to medical school and then into their chosen field.
Learning and Contributing
At Baltimore’s Bryn Mawr School, a girl’s college preparatory school for grades K-12, a handful of older students have spent the last three summers in Tanzania volunteering with a group called the Partnership for the Rapid Elimination of Trachoma. The group is organized as a public research foundation seeking to learn about Trachoma, how it affects groups of people, how it spreads, and how it might be effectively treated. Students do things like handing out informational brochures, assisting doctors with running patient tests, and conducting field research and statistical analysis.
Though Tanzania is a far cry from the average modern hospital in the United States, the experience gives the participating girls the opportunity to see where the healthcare rubber meets the road. The other medical professionals who volunteer are sacrificing greater opportunities at home to serve those who are in need. Any of the girls interested in the medical career who can make it through a summer in Tanzania and still come out with the proper perspective are the types of workers the American health care system needs.
While internships overseas are readily available, there are quite a few stateside programs as well. Using Baltimore again as an example, consider Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, Inc. This institutional pharmaceutical company gives teens the opportunity to spend their summers in internships so they can learn about the industry and gauge whether or not it’s something they really want to pursue. Interns work in a variety of roles including administration, research, and analysis.
Choosing a medical career means a commitment to a long educational process that is time-consuming and costly. That may be one of the things keeping enrollment at the nation’s medical schools as low as it’s been recently. But through internships that expose high school students to the idea of a medical career, there is hope that more can be encouraged to enter medicine when they graduate from high school. If we can get enrollment back up it would go a long way to alleviating healthcare staffing shortages.
Guest post by Jane from comphealth.com