College can be a very overwhelming experience, but one solution to handling all the social and school stress is getting involved on campus. There is a diverse range of clubs and organizations from surfing club to student government. There is essentially something for everyone.
Figuring out what to get involved in as a pre-med student can seem challenging because you don’t want to waste any time and make the most out of your experiences. I’m here to tell you that time is on your side. If you are a freshman or sophomore, I recommend getting involved in as many clubs as your heart desires. Then, as you enter your third year, you might cut down and focus on the clubs that you love the most. The most important thing to remember is these clubs do not have to be pre-med orientated. Please go create and explore new hobbies through these organizations. It is important to gain pre-med experiences during your time in college, but it is also important to not lose yourself, and let your personality show through your involvement in organizations that aren’t pre-health related. So, go ahead and join the clubs you’re interested in, whether it be Greek life, Habitat for Humanity, student government, surfing club or anything else. However, if you are looking for more of a pre-health-focused organization, I have compiled a list of some clubs and extracurriculars that will help you on your pre-med journey.
Alpha Epsilon Delta
Alpha Epsilon Delta, otherwise known as AED, is a pre-health honor society at University of Florida that offers a diverse member body including medical, dental, PA, nursing, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, PT, OT, optometry, genetic counseling and public health pre-professional tracks. AED offers over 200 service hours each semester, hosts professional development opportunities and helps build a sense of community among pre-health students. This Florida Alpha chapter is ranked first in the nation. I joined AED in the Fall 2020 semester, and I will say it was the best decision I have ever made. Within this organization, I have been able to find people who I now consider my best friends and have been able to grow professionally. I highly recommend applying to this organization in the upcoming spring.
This clinic provides free medical care services to underserved communities in Alachua County affected by health disparities. They provide educational experiences focused on social determinants of health and the impact on the community’s health and wellness. You can look to apply for the upcoming spring when applications open sometime this fall.
First Responder Gator is a 10-week emergency first responder certification course where you can get EMR and CPR certified. This course provides students with the opportunity to get involved in emergency medicine and helps prepare students for careers in healthcare. They even offer EMS ride-alongs with Gainesville Fire Rescue.
UF Shands offers volunteer services for UF students in a variety of medical specialties. I have volunteered with Shands at the orthopedic center and women’s health center in the medical plaza. It’s a great experience to work alongside nurses and get a feel for the clinical environment. You are required to commit to one semester and work one three-hour shift per week.
Gator Emergency Medical Response Unit is a great opportunity to earn clinical volunteer hours. This volunteer medical response unit is part of the University Police Department and a division of Public Safety. According to their website, they strive to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone and “provide medical standby services at official university events and organization activities.”
The Equal Access Clinic is like the Mobile Outreach Clinic in that they provide free medical care to the Gainesville community. They are unique because they provide a variety of specialty clinics such as a Spanish night, LGBTQ health clinic, pediatric night, women’s clinic, prenatal clinic, free therapy night, eye clinic, physical therapy clinic and occupational therapy clinic.
According to their website, volunteers work alongside physicians and UF medical students by “taking vitals, performing data entry and coordinating to follow up with prescriptions, test results and referrals to specialty services.” There are also many other opportunities within the clinic, such as getting “certified in HIV testing, Spanish-language translation, and participating in ongoing research.” You can apply to volunteer here on October 15.
GatorCPR is a local training center where they offer training centers to get Basic Life Support and Certified Nursing Assistant certified. You may ask how this relates to pre-med involvement.
Getting certified as a CNA can help you earn a job within UF Shands Hospital and get direct patient experience working as a patient care assistant. For those who are on the pre-PA track, this can be a great opportunity to start earning the hours required to apply to PA school. I will admit that this option is a bit pricey, but if you are looking to get a job and earn patient care hours, then this is a great opportunity to consider!
The backbone behind medicine is research. Through research, we can find treatments and gain more knowledge about diseases and illnesses. Luckily, UF is passionate about research. If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest making an appointment with a CURBS ambassador to learn where to look for open research positions and how to apply for one.
These are just a handful of the involvement opportunities you can explore during your time here in Gainesville. There are tons of other options on campus that I encourage you to explore in order to find your family and home away from home.