Breaking the Cycle of Unpaid Internships / by Micah Brown

As all premeds know and physicians have experienced, getting a job (paid!) in the medical field as a premed student is as hard as trying to study physics on two hours of sleep. Whether it's a certification, a bachelors degree, or whatever requirements jobs in the medical field require, most premeds just don't fit the bill. Many times and even in my own experience, I was offered unpaid internship after unpaid internship.  I wanted to see patients! Now don't get me wrong, the experiences leading up to med school are not all about money. This is a time to dabble in a little bit of everything specialty wise and experience wise: clinical, volunteer, research, etc. I always say this time is all about building connections and building your resume. With that being said, a little money never hurt anyone right?! As a lot of you know, I chose to take a gap year in between undergrad and med school. During this year, I had to make money. Period. Even though I could've gotten a job outside of the medical field, being the person that I am, I needed to immerse myself in medicine to some degree. I've always been interested in derm ever since I watched my first YouTube skin care routine. Lol kidding (kinda) In College I shadowed a dermatologist and I fell in love.  

I get the question a lot "How did you become a medical assistant? How did you know they were hiring?" It all started one day in my apartment senior year....I had a meltdown about what I was going to do with my life after I graduated. It's crazy because my meltdowns always result in me getting myself together and making a power move! That night I went onto Google and typed in "Dermatologists Near Me", got their emails or phone numbers, and drafted a letter asking if they were hiring medical assistants or scribes. The next morning, I made four phone calls and send out 15 emails (with CV attached)

The email went a little something like this. Im really giving y'all the goods in this post: 

Dr. ____,

My name is Micah C. Brown. I am a senior Biology/Pre-Med student athlete at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. I am taking a Gap year before attending medical school. I am very interested in dermatology as a specialty. Currently, I am interning at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in the Dermatology and Immunology Department, investigating Melanoma, more specifically the mutations to the BRAF gene and combination therapy. I am emailing you to ask if you have any medical assistant or medical scribe positions open starting in the summer (June 2016). I will be graduating with my Bachelors in May; however, my age does not reflect the level of knowledge, experience, and willingness to learn that I possess. I believe wholeheartedly that I will be an asset to your practice. Learning more about dermatology and being apart of your practice will hopefully solidify my intentions to become a dermatologist.

Some may say this is a little extra, but when you really want something you'll do what it takes! I didn't hear back from some, I got many no's, but I did get some yes's (s/o to the offices that said yes, yall the real MVP) I didn't know what was going to come out of these emails, all I knew was that I had to be proactive and make an effort. Fast forward a couple months and a couple interviews… I got a job at a practice that was willing to train me (along with a class) to be a certified dermatological medical assistant while working there. I never thought I'd get the chance to do some of the amazing things that I'm doing at work. Imagine seeing a patient covered with over 40 lesions that need to be injected individually and the doctor handing you the syringe and saying, "You got this!" I almost fainted I was so excited. I see over 50 patients a day, I give injections, I assist with surgeries, and I've made some in valuable connections. 

There are practices out there that hire scribes, that pay research assistants, that are willing to sow into the next generation of medical professionals. You just gotta find them.

So my advice to you is...if you don't see a door, create one! Put yourself out there because the worst thing you can hear is "no" and move on to the next. Being a premed can be rough at times and you're just thinking "WHEN AM I GONNA ACTUALLY START PRACTICING MEDICINE?" Take a chance and it may be sooner than you think!