You've made it through differential equations and crushed software development methods while taking organic chemistry "on the side.” Now what? If you're an engineering student interested in medicine, chances are you're wondering how to translate your academic experiences into a killer AMCAS application. Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Get some clinical experience.
Shadowing is a fantastic way to visualize what healthcare truly looks like. Consider spending time around the hospital to observe the status quo and identify opportunities to improve the patient experience. Does the hospital affiliated with your school have a clinical scholars program for engineering students to shadow physicians and solve translational research challenges? If not, become familiar with the research interests of a few faculty members and reach out.
2. Practice core skills.
Physicians and engineers both need technical skills to excel in multiple different situations. Think about honing your data analysis in R or proficiency in machine learning. Take a course in MATLAB. Or, if you are interested in clinical skills, think about becoming an EMT, pharmacy technician, or certified nursing assistant (CNA). There are plenty of online resources to get started! Just make sure to choose a skill that you are genuinely interested in.
3. Launch a class project!
Engineering classes are notorious for group work, but your project doesn't have to end when the semester does. Consider the college experience a four-year incubator for all those ideas that keep you up at night or nag at your attention during class. Check into potential funding opportunities or dive into the world of entrepreneurship.
Put that CAD creativity and 3D printing experience to use. There are endless opportunities to innovate using open-source resources (think Arduino, Raspberry Pi) to solve medical challenges. If you need to freshen up your skills, there are free online CAD programs you can open in your browser to start tinkering.
5. Contemplate the humanity in engineering.
We often consider technology to be the bedrock of innovation, but healthcare is fundamentally grounded in human interaction. How does the space in which medicine is conducted promote values like empathy, compassion, and resilience? How can engineers design environments to encourage a better human experience?
No matter how you end up applying engineering expertise to a career in medicine, have faith that the critical thinking skills developed in your undergraduate studies are perhaps your most important attribute.