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Strategies for Thriving in the Challenging Pre-Med Environment at USF

USF College of Nursing facility, where students grasp the significance of medicine. ORACLE PHOTO/MRIDULA SINGH

Navigating the path as a pre-med student presents its challenges.

The routine of rising early for an 8 a.m. lab, engaging in hospital volunteer work, attending classes, and hitting the books at the library encapsulates the daily grind of a college student pursuing a medical career.

Yet, merely meeting these basic requirements is just the tip of the iceberg in the pursuit of success.

Let’s not overlook the arduous task of preparing for the MCAT and striving relentlessly for a pristine 4.0 GPA.

To enhance their medical school applications, students are advised to engage in diverse activities such as clinic volunteering, involvement in biomedical research, and acquiring relevant certifications.

Here are some selected options that I have opted for, which you too can consider.

Participating in a clinical environment while volunteering offers a firsthand observation of healthcare professionals collaborating harmoniously to deliver optimal patient care, concurrently making a positive impact on underserved communities.

During my freshman year, my volunteer role involved interacting with patients and hospital staff, particularly serving as a transport volunteer.

Although seemingly mundane, assisting patients to the valet area post their hospital stay and witnessing the joy it brings to their faces underscored the profound influence healthcare providers wield over patients.

These experiences serve as a constant source of motivation in my journey towards realizing my aspiration of becoming a physician.

Within the campus premises, avenues for volunteering span across the surgical waiting room, urgent care, blood draw, infusion clinic, and extend to volunteering opportunities at local hospitals as well.

For those disinclined towards hospital volunteering, alternative avenues exist to contribute to communities in need.

Leveraging my bilingual proficiency, I volunteer as a Spanish interpreter, offering assistance to a community in close proximity to me. This engagement facilitates collaboration with medical professionals across various specialties.

While the rewards of such engagements are fulfilling, the road as a pre-med student is undeniably challenging.

Amidst the rigors, finding solace in a supportive community is paramount. Fellow pre-med students, who uniquely comprehend the shared journey, offer invaluable support during challenging times.

Joining a [ppp1] such as the Pre-med American Medical Student Association, Health Occupations Student of America, or a medical fraternity, presents an enriching extracurricular avenue.

However, it is equally crucial to allocate time towards activities beyond the realm of medicine.

Dedicating time to pursue diverse interests provides a much-needed respite from the academic demands. Personally, contributing articles to The Oracle serves as an outlet to nurture my passion for journalism while addressing topics of interest to fellow students.

Research engagements represent another sought-after extracurricular pursuit among pre-med students. Given USF’s standing as a [ppp2], numerous research opportunities abound on campus.

Students can explore ongoing research projects by connecting with professors or conducting online searches for active research initiatives at USF or Moffitt.

Navigating this realm can be overwhelming, prompting students to consider joining the Undergraduate Research Society for support and guidance.

Collaborating with peers to develop and present research findings offers a glimpse into the teamwork skills essential for future medical practitioners.

Seeking hands-on medical exposure, students can pursue certifications as medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, and more.

USF streamlines this process by offering a complimentary, non-credit [ppp3]. This certification equips students to engage alongside EMTs and paramedics, gaining invaluable medical experience firsthand.

While the pre-med journey may seem daunting, it is imperative not to let the academic demands overshadow the opportunity to witness the impact of medicine firsthand.

To my fellow pre-med peers, remember, you are capable of overcoming these challenges and excelling in your pursuits. Stay resilient.