Virtual Opportunities During Summer 2020

written by: Maya Roytman

It was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that my in-person internship for the summer had been canceled. I went through a tumultuous interview process for several programs, and I was on the verge of accepting my number one program as soon as COVID-19 hit. Most programs were canceled, and I along with my peers felt completely lost and worried that our summer would go to waste. Questions about how these cancellations would affect future applications to medical schools overwhelmed premed online communities and forums, and there was a general sentiment of helplessness especially for underclassmen. However, a silver lining to this summer are the various virtual volunteering and medical seminar programs that have been popping up over the last couple of months. The demand for virtual programs like these will likely be ongoing, and below are some of the virtual programs and activities I’ve discovered and want to share with you this summer.

Virtual Volunteering:

  • GetUsPPE: An organization that helps find, create, and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care providers and underserved communities. 
    • This summer, I am part of the Chicago chapter of this organization, GetMePPE Chicago, led by medical school students around the Chicagoland area. Reach out to your local medical school to see how you can volunteer with them!
  • Crisis Text Line: A free mental health texting service that trains volunteers to be counselors via SMS message. Currently, they are placing volunteers on a waitlist, but it’s still worth applying to! According to some of my friends, being a Crisis Text Line counselor is a very meaningful and humbling experience.
  • Contact Tracing: Contact tracing is an essential practice when it comes to preventing transmission in a pandemic. A good starting place is the Johns Hopkins course on contact tracing that’s completely free on Coursera. Reach out to your university if they have any other contact tracing training modules, and apply to intern jobs at your local health department if you are interested in working as a contact tracer! 
  • AMWA: Although I have only been a member for a couple of months, AMWA has become one of the best organizations I have joined. Fill out this form if you are interested in a summer AMWA internship to help this wonderful organization grow!
  • Other organizations include UN Volunteers, Chemo Angels, Project Sunshine, American Red Cross, Dorot, Zooniverse, UPchieve, and ScribeAmerica (for remote scribing). Find what organization aligns with your values best!

Online Seminars:

  • Virtual Shadowing: Once a week for 2 hours, faculty and presenters from UT Southwestern Medical Center speak to students on Zoom and have weekly quizzes to track student engagement. Visit their website here, and make sure to join the GroupMe! You can also find their videos from previous sessions on YouTube.
  • Lenox Hill BRAINterns Summer Seminar Series: One of the best webinars of the summer (and best docu-series of the summer, go binge Lenox Hill on Netflix!)! This lecture series covers everything you want to know about neurosurgery from the top neurosurgeons in the country, and thousands of people from highschool to medical school around the globe tune in to the webinars every weekday. Dr. Langer is super inspirational, and the weekly anatomy classes from medical students from the Zucker School of Medicine are very educational! You can find their videos on YouTube here.
  • The Physics of Life Online Seminar Series: One of the newest webinars I discovered from LinkedIn, this “summer school” series hosted by Princeton University explores the nexus of physics and biological systems. While the series already began earlier this summer, you can find their recorded lectures on their YouTube channel.
  • If you are considering following the pre-PA track, Archana Patel (@ap.the.pac) hosts virtual shadowing sessions via Zoom each week!

Reach Out:

  • Research: If you haven’t started research yet and are interested in it, now is a good time to email professors from your university to try and join a lab for the fall semester. While you might not be physically in the lab, a lot of principal investigators (PIs) need help with data organization, statistical analysis, and image analysis, which is a great place to start! 
  • MCAT: Summer is the perfect time to jumpstart MCAT studying! Even if you aren’t applying next cycle, it’s great to familiarize yourself with the exam by perusing the AAMC website and watching some Khan Academy videos. There is a plethora of MCAT studying communities, and I personally find them helpful to learn about test-taking strategies and study schedules.

Reflect:

  • One of the most important things throughout one’s premed journey is to actually keep track of all the activities you do and how many hours you dedicate to them. Reflecting on your past academic year and journaling in a notebook will help you not only track your activities and accomplishments, but will help jog your memory when it comes to writing a personal statement for medical school applications. 
  • Keep an updated resume handy on your laptop for applying to different programs and scholarships in the future, and I would highly suggest creating a LinkedIn to track your experiences in addition to connecting with others professionally.

Stay in Touch:

  • Join online Facebook groups and GroupMe group chats! Especially during this challenging time, it can be nice to have a virtual support group. Additionally, premed students are much more open and willing to collaborate virtually more than ever before. It’s amazing how many new people you meet and how many great journeys you hear about!
  • Following “study-grams” was one of the best things I did this summer! DM-ing people on Instagram really helped ground me in my premed journey, and I made and will continue to make some great Insta friends along the way. Here are some accounts I recommend to follow: 

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the many things you can get involved with this summer, it certainly is a great start! That being said, it is still important to prioritize your own self-care and to make sure to not overwhelm yourself with a lot of activities. Reserve days in the week completely dedicated to relaxing to prevent burnout. It’s summer after all, and it’s the perfect time to engage in hobbies that you are passionate about, even if they aren’t medically related. 

Best of luck on your journey, and be sure to soak up the last couple months of summer sunshine! 

 

 

Maya Roytman

 

Neuroscience & Public Health, Premed Student at Loyola University Chicago

 

Anna Vardapetyan

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