57 Great Medical Programs for High School Students + Advice



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Thinking about a career in medicine? I highly recommend trying out some medical experiences in high school before committing to a

pre-med track

. Many of my high school friends who hoped to go into medicine ended up

changing their major during college

when the pre-med courses got too difficult.


Doing a medical internship, summer program, or community service project in high school can help you decide if medicine is the right track for you

before you waste time and money going pre-med in college. This guide will explain what experiences are open to you as a high school student, what those experiences involve, and how you will benefit from them.

What Medical Experiences Are Available to High School Students?


There are lots of ways to get a taste of it’s like to work in medicine. In my opinion,

the best time to do this is over the summer.

You have the most free time during the summer, and there are more experiences available.

There are many

summer medical programs and summer medical internships for high school students

across the country. These opportunities

range from research experiences to in-hospital experiences.

Some of these programs and internships charge you a fee to attend, some are paid for, and some even pay

you

to attend.


I’ve compiled a list of over 50 summer medical programs for high school students.

Several of these programs and internships are limited to students from a specific state or area, so be sure to check specific programs for application requirements and fees. I’ve provided links to each program below.

If you’d like to get experience during the school year (on weekends and after school), you should

consider

shadowing a doctor

or volunteering at a hospital.

I’ll discuss the details of volunteering and job shadowing later in the article.

A Quick COVID-19 Note


Because of the ongoing pandemic, some of the programs below have been moved online. Be sure to check to see what—if any—COVID-19 changes have been made to the programs you’re applying to!



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List of Summer Medical Programs for High School Students

I’ve divided up the summer medical programs into three categories:

Medical Programs, Medical Research Programs, and general Science Research Programs.

Medical Programs

In the medical programs category, I list programs that offer high school students the chance to get hands-on experience in medicine (non-research related) such as

learning simple medical procedures, watching surgeries, shadowing doctors, working in hospitals, interacting with patients, and more

. There are very few programs that offer this type of experience to high school students, and I highly recommend them since they’ll give you the most realistic look at what life’s like as a pre-med student, medical student, and medical professional.


Program

Host Institute/Hospital

Location

Cost

Program Length

High School Senior Summer Internship Program
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, OH No cost. Interns are paid up to $1,408 8 weeks

Medical Immersion Summer Academy
Mentoring in Medicine and Science Oakland, CA $900 5 days

Medicine & Health Care Program
National Student Leadership Council Various universities throughout the US $3,395- $3,695 9 days

Stanford Medical Youth Science Program
Stanford University Stanford, CA No cost 5 weeks

Summer Medical Academy
Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego San Diego, CA $2,450 12 days

UPenn Summer Academies
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA $

5,049
3 weeks

AIM-High (Osteopathic Medicine)
NSU Florida Fort Lauderdale, FL $695 5 days

Medical Research Programs

If you’re unable to do one of the above medical programs,

the next best thing is a medical research program.

In these programs, you’ll be

working in a lab and helping with medical research

that’s in progress (i.e. looking at slides under a microscope, recording changes) or

assisting with on-going clinical research

(i.e. interviewing participants in an on-going trial of new medication, logging participant information in the computer). Many of these programs

pair you with a mentor

who works at your location. Also, several of these programs require you to

give a presentation

at the end of the program.


These medical research programs are extremely valuable

because, as a pre-med student, you’ll likely end up doing lab work either for class or as an extracurricular for your medical school application. If you do one of these programs in high school, you’ll be a step ahead of your pre-med classmates.

(One quick note: many of these programs are free or pay stipends, but

not every program provides free housing

. Make sure you check each program’s housing accommodations before you apply!)


Program

Host Institute/Hospital

Location

Cost

Program Length

Summer Scholars Biology Research Immersion Program
Buck Institute for Research on Aging Novato, CA $2,500 7 weeks

Disease Detective Camp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC Atlanta, Georgia No cost 5 days

Summer Child Health Research Internship
Children’s Hospital Colorado Aurora, CO No cost. Interns are paid $3,500 8 weeks

Summer Research Program
Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Oakland, CA No cost 9 weeks

Biomedical Research Internship for Minority Students
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, OH No costs. Interns receive a stipend of up to $3,132 9 weeks

City of Hope Cancer Center
Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy Duarte, CA No cost. Students receive a stipend of $4,000 10 weeks

Summer Experience for Students
Coriell Institute for Medical Research Camden, NJ No cost. Students receive a stipend of $1,000 4 weeks

Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, The Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences CURE

(Summer Only)
Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Boston, MA No cost. 8-12 weeks

Summer Research Program
Indiana University Cancer Center Indianapolis, IN No cost. 6 weeks

High School Summer Internship Program
Magee Women’s Research Institute Pittsburgh, PA No cost. 4 weeks

Summer Research Internship
Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience Jupiter, FL No cost. Students are paid $11.50/hour. 6 weeks

Summer Internships for High School and College Students
McLaughlin Research Institute Great Falls, MT No cost. 8 weeks

High School Summer Program
MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX No cost. Interns are paid $6,000. 10 weeks
Medical College of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI
No cost.
7 weeks

Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program
National Cancer Institute Frederick, MD No cost. Students receive a $3,400 stipend 8 weeks

NEI Summer Intern Program
National Eye Institute Bethesda, MD & Rockville, MD No cost. Students receive a monthly stipend (amount varies). 8-12 weeks

Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research
NIH Bethesda, MD No cost. Students receive a monthly stipend (amount varies). minimum of 8 weeks

Summer Student Program
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Bethesda, MD No cost. Students receive a monthly stipend of $2,000. minimum 8 weeks

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Summer Research with NIDA
NIDA Various universities throughout the US No cost. Interns are paid $12 an hour. 8 weeks

NIDDK Short-term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons STEP-UP – High School Program
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Bethesda, MD No cost. Students receive a stipend (amount varies) 8-10 weeks

Summer Internship Program
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Triangle Park, NC No cost. Students are paid per hour (salary varies) 8 weeks

Summer Program in the Neurological Sciences
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Bethesda, MD No cost. Students receive a stipend (amount varies). minimum 8 weeks

Summer Cancer Research Experience Program for High School Students
Roswell Park Cancer Institute Buffalo, NY No cost. Limited, need-based stipends available. 7 weeks

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program
Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA No cost. Students receive stipends from $500 to $1500 8 weeks

Summer Student Program
The Jackson Laboratory Bar Harbor, ME and Farmington, CT No cost. Students receive a stipend of $6,000 10 weeks

Helios Scholars Program
Translational Genomics Research Institute Phoenix, AZ No cost. Students are paid $12 an hour 8 weeks

High School Student Research Apprentice Program
University of Connecticut Health Center Farmington, CT $1,290 minimum, with discounts for students who enroll in multiple sessions. 3 – 6 weeks

Summer Research Scholars Program
University of Minnesota Medical School, Lillehei Heart Institute Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN No cost. Students receive a stipend (amount varies). 9 weeks

Travis B. Lewis High School Scholarship Award Program
University of Nebraska Medical Center, Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience Omaha, NE No cost. Students receive a stipend of $1,500. up to 10 weeks

Biomedical Research Training for High School Students
University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX No cost. 7 weeks

Summer Fellowship Program in Biomedical Research
Wistar Institute Philadelphia, PA No cost. Students receive a stipend (amount varies). 8 weeks


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Science Research Programs

If you can’t do one of the medical research or medical programs, you should consider trying to do a

science summer program/internship

. These programs are not medicine-specific and

cover a wide range of science topics (from plant life to space).

However, these programs are still very valuable because as a pre-med student, you’ll be learning a ton of science. As a part of your pre-med track, you’ll be required to take Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, and more. Doing one of these science programs will give you a preview of the coursework ahead of you.

Also, many of these programs are lab work, and,

although they’re not focused on medical research, they will still give you good general insights into how to do lab work

. As I said before, as a pre-med student, you’ll likely end up doing lab work either for class or as an extracurricular for your medical school application. If you do one of these programs, you’ll be well-prepared to do that research.


Program

Host Institute/Hospital

Location

Cost

Program Length

Plant Genome Internship
Cornell University Boyce Thompson Institute Ithaca, NY No cost. Students receive a stipend of $3,100. 10 weeks

Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program
George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia No cost. 8 weeks

Army Educational Outreach Programs
Department of Defense Washington, DC Varies. Some scholarships and grants are available. Varies depending on program

Internship Program
J. Craig Venter Institute Rockville, MD No cost. Students are paid $15.00 an hour 8-12 weeks

Maine Research Internships for Teachers and High School Students MERITS
Maine Space Grant Consortium Augusta, ME No cost. Students earn a stipend (amount undisclosed). 6 weeks

Research Science Institute
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT Cambridge, MA No cost. 6 weeks

Monell Science Apprenticeship Program
Monell Chemical Senses Center Philadelphia, PA No cost. 7 weeks

Summer Research Program
Monmouth University West Long Branch, NJ No cost. Students are paid about $12 per hour. 10 weeks

Summer Youth Internship Program
Museum of Science Boston, MA No cost. Positions can be paid or unpaid, depending on program. Varies

National Space Club Scholars Program
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Greenbelt, MD & Wallops Island, VA No cost. 7 weeks

OARDC Research Internships in Wooster ORIP
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Wooster, OH No cost. Students receive a stipend of $3,500. 10 weeks

Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program
Saturday Academy Oregon & Southwest Washington Varies Varies by program, but usually 8 weeks

High School Student Research Education Program
Scripps Research Institute Jupiter, FL No cost. Students are paid $4,060 6 weeks

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Program
University of Maryland College Park, MD $250 2 weeks

Howard Hughes Medical Institute High School Scholars
University of Miami Miami, FL No cost. Some students receive stipends. 7 weeks

Internships for High School
State University of New York College at Oneonta Cooperstown, NY No cost. Interns receive a stipend of $3,000 10 weeks

Student Scholars Program
The Forsyth Institute Boston, MA No cost. Students are paid an hourly wage (amount varies) 8 weeks

Geosciences Bridge Program
University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center Princess Anne, MD No cost. Students are paid $500 per week. 6 weeks

Summer Research Apprentice Program
University of Wyoming Laramie, WY Varies depending on program. Varies depending on program.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of These Programs?


These medical programs can be a great experience for many high school students, but they can have some drawbacks. In this section we’ll look at the pros and cons of medical programs for high school students.

Pros

  • These programs and internships provide a real look at what life’s like as a researcher, scientist, or medical student. You’ll have a

    great sense of whether or not you’d like to pursue a career in the medical field

    after you finish your program.
  • If you do a college campus program, you’ll get a preview of

    college life

    . You can experience living away from home, and you can decide if you like the college. I did a summer program at

    UCLA

    during high school, and it made me realize that UCLA was not the school for me.
  • As I said before, these opportunities give you the chance to evaluate if pre-med is the track you want to go down before you waste time and money in college. If you love your program, you’ll be even more motivated to

    work hard to become a medical professional

    .
  • You’ll meet like-minded students who’re interested in medicine/science.
  • You’ll have a great program or internship on your

    college application

    . By actually participating in a medical/science program,

    you’ll show colleges that you’re committed to pursuing a career in the medical field.
  • If you attend a college campus program, and you’re interested in going to college at the school that hosted the program, you’ll have shown

    real interest

    in that college (which admissions officers always like to see).

Cons

  • These programs can be expensive

    .

    However, some programs pay you to attend! Make sure you check out the individual program websites to find out the cost. And like we mentioned before, pay careful attention to housing! Some programs might offer stipends, but they may not cover housing costs.
  • Also, these summer medical programs for high school students can be

    highly competitive

    (some admit very few students or have special qualifications such as having a 3.5 GPA or higher).
  • Some programs

    may not provide you with the best insight into medicine

    , especially those that are less hands-on or only offer research exposure (which is not what you’ll necessarily be interested in).

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Other Options: Hospital Volunteer or Shadowing a Doctor


Volunteering and job shadowing are both great ways to participate in medical experiences at your local hospital.

You can do them during the school year or the summer. Also, both opportunities are free!

What’s the difference between volunteering & job shadowing a doctor?

As a hospital volunteer, you’ll have to apply (and likely interview) to be a volunteer

(along with getting a TB test and filling out paperwork). You’ll attend a hospital volunteer orientation and be assigned a specific “job” at the hospital, such as assisting the nurses or assisting hospital visitors in navigating the hospital. As a volunteer, you’ll be required to commit to volunteering for a certain number of shifts per week. You also may have to commit to volunteering for six months or more.


Job shadowing is a shorter experience and much less formal.

You can shadow a doctor for as little time as a few hours or a day or two. While shadowing, you follow a doctor around while they go about their normal activities. They may ask you to help them with basic tasks (grabbing a chart or taking notes), but probably not. You’ll be there to see what a doctor does in their daily routine to determine if it interests you.


To sign up to be a hospital volunteer,

apply through the hospital’s website. If you’re having trouble locating the hospital’s website or contact information, check with your school academic advisor. They may have a connection to the local hospital or might know another student who has volunteered or job shadowed there and who could help you get involved.


To find a

job shadowing

opportunity,

reach out to any friends or family who work in the medical field. See if they know any doctors whom you could shadow. Also, ask your school’s academic advisor if they know other students who shadowed a doctor and could give you more information. If your school can’t help you, get in touch with the hospital directly to see if they can help you set up a job shadowing opportunity. If you need more advice on

job shadowing, read our other guide.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Shadowing a Doctor or Being a Hospital Volunteer?


Shadowing a doctor or being a hospital volunteer is a significantly different experience than participating in a summer medical program, and they have their own set of pros and cons.

Pros

  • As opposed to summer programs,

    these experiences are always free.

    As I said above, some medical programs and internships can cost a lot of money. Job shadowing and being a hospital volunteer are free experiences that will only cost you your time. These are great options if you can’t afford the cost of a summer program.
  • Job shadowing and being a hospital volunteer can provide a

    real look into life as a doctor or nurse.

    By following them around or working in a hospital, you’ll get a sense of the work environment and what life is like on a day-to-day basis for a medical professional.
  • As I said before, these opportunities give you the chance to evaluate if

    pre-med

    is the track you want to go down before you spend time and money in college. If you don’t like your experience job shadowing or as a volunteer, you might realize pre-med isn’t the right path for you. However, if you love your experience, you’ll feel more motivated to work towards your goal of becoming a medical professional.

  • Job shadowing is a great experience if you don’t have a lot of time to commit.

    You can choose to job shadow for a few hours, a full day, or for several days. It’s very flexible.
  • If you want to be pre-med,

    volunteering at a hospital is a great extracurricular activity for your college application.

    While volunteering elsewhere (at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, etc.) can be great for a college application, it’s good to keep your

    extracurriculars

    focused on your future goals. Volunteering at a hospital will show colleges that you’re serious about a career in medicine.

Cons

  • Volunteer experience may not provide you with quite the medical experience you’re looking for.

    Volunteering may not be very hands-on,

    and your duties may be repetitive and not directly related to medicine, such as answering phones, filing papers, and helping visitors find where they’re going.
  • If you only job shadow for a day, it’s not a great experience for your college application.

    It’s not an extracurricular activity if you only do it once

    because that doesn’t show enough commitment. However, I recommend doing job shadowing just to get insight into the medical field.


Want to build the best possible college application?

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is the world’s best admissions consulting service. We combine

world-class admissions counselors

with our

data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies

. We’ve overseen thousands of students get into their

top choice schools

, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit.

We want to get you admitted to your dream schools

.



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How to Choose the Right Medical Experience for You

Each of the medical experiences listed in this article has value, but to decide which is right for you,

you should ask yourself three questions:

#1: What Is Your Main Medical Interest?


Are you more interested in research or patient care?

If research, look into one of the summer research programs. If patient care, look into one of the hospital-based programs, job shadowing or being a hospital volunteer.

#2: How Much Money Are You Willing to Spend?

Do you have money to spend, do you have no money to spend, or do you need to have a job that pays? If you have money to spend, you can consider all of the options. If you have no money to spend, look into an all-expenses paid program (or one with financial aid).

Also, consider volunteering or job shadowing since both are free experiences.

If you need a job that pays, look into the programs with stipends for participants.

#3: How Much Time Do You Want to Invest in Your Experience?

Do you want to spend a day, a few hours per week, or a few weeks full-time on this experience? If you want a quick experience, consider job shadowing a doctor for a day or two.

If you’d like an on-going experience to use as an extracurricular, consider volunteering

since you could do that a few hours per week throughout the school year. If you’d like an intensive experience, consider doing one of the summer programs or internships.

Also, always make sure to

research a program or experience before you commit to it.

Doing so will help avoid a bad experience (such as a program that’s not very hands-on or volunteer work that’s mostly grunt work). Whatever you’re interested in doing, try to find another student who did it previously and ask them about their experience. For the programs, get in touch with the program coordinator to see if they can put you in contact with a program alum you can speak with.

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How Will Colleges View These Experiences?

Colleges mainly look for extracurriculars that

show your commitment, passion, and ability to handle responsibility and leadership.

Job shadowing isn’t a great experience for your college application because it’s not enough of a commitment if you only do it for a few days. On the other hand, volunteering at a hospital is a great extracurricular activity for your college application because it shows a commitment to medicine.

The summer programs and internships are also great experiences for your college application because they show that same interest in and commitment to medicine. Also, many of these programs and internships are competitive, and colleges know that. If you’re accepted into one of those programs or internships, colleges will view it like you won a prestigious award.

What’s Next?

Doing a medical program is a great step, but

what else do you need to do to prepare for med school?

Check out our step-by-step guide to

preparing for med school as a high school student

and our list of

the best books for pre-med students

.

Also,

you should learn about



how to write about extracurriculars

on college applications

. Check out

four amazing examples of extracurriculars for college applications.


Interested in a BS/MD program?

They can be a great way to save some time and get your medical degree sooner.

Read our guide on getting into BS/MD programs to learn more.


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