Last Updated on April 20, 2022 by Aenia Amin
Summer is a great time to get medically related experience, which can be an important piece of a medical school application. You can volunteer, shadow a doctor, work in a lab, or participate in a summer program that may include several of these experiences. Any type of medical experience is a great way to build your resume and help you to decide if medicine or a health-related career is right for you.
What kinds of summer programs are there?
There are many different types of medical- or health-related summer programs available. Some are research-based and involve lab work, while others are one-on-one experiences within a community or clinic. Some programs, like the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), formerly known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), include both workshops and clinical exposure. This program is available to freshman and sophomore college students interested in careers in medicine or dentistry. SHPEP is a free program, and participants receive housing, meals, and a stipend, during the six-week summer academic enrichment program.
Where can I find out about programs?
If you’re currently enrolled in college, talk to your pre-health advisor, mentor, and/or professors to find out about local opportunities that fit your interests. Also, check the science department bulletin boards or websites for opportunities to assist with faculty research projects. Throughout the year, professional organizations may host open houses or presentations on your campus, so make sure you are aware of any pre-med email lists or social media groups that may share details about these events. Be sure to attend and ask representatives about paid and volunteer opportunities. If you’re specifically looking for a paid position, make an appointment with your school’s career center. They will let you know about job openings, and they can also offer resume help and go over interview tips and techniques.
You can also search the AAMC Summer Enrichment Programs database and look through our list of summer undergraduate research opportunities. is another great place to search for enrichment programs. Student Doctor Network’s (SDN) Activity Finder can also serve as a guide for all of the opportunities out there.
When should I think about applying?
Every program has its own timeline, but applications tend to open earlier than you might expect, which is why you should start planning your summer now. Many of these programs are competitive, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the application. It’s also a good idea to have a few options in mind in case your first choice is not available.