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Creating Opportunity After Missing Out on Internship Experience
Track and Field  . 

Creating Opportunity After Missing Out on Internship Experience

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted South Carolina senior Brooke Wilson’s professional development plans last spring, the cross country/track and field pre-med student-athlete went the extra mile to gain some practical experience. Wilson made the most of a difficult situation by starting the Pre-Health Virtual Journal Club, which is now a registered student organization on campus.

“The summer internship opportunity I was planning on doing was canceled,” said Wilson, an exercise science major, who had hoped to intern at a rural health care provider in Kentucky. “I was sitting at home, thinking about what I could do because I had planned on taking the MCAT and do some sort of internship. Suddenly there was a lot of wide-open time. I was trying to find something that could sort of replace that experience, so I started a virtual club for pre-health students at the University. Given it would be a virtual experience, I thought about it being a journal club. Journal clubs are more common among research lab groups.”

The premise was to have students sign up for a meeting time to be a presenter for a particular day, and each presenter would select a research article on any topic related to health. The group would meet via the Microsoft Teams video platform.

“Some topics that members presented included tick paralysis, malpractice/medical ethics, childhood leukemia treatments, and Cotard’s Syndrome,” Wilson said. “I gave two presentations over the summer. One on the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2, and a second on a qualitative study about LGBTQI health.”

During the week of each event, Wilson emailed each of the students in the club to let them know who is presenting, what the topic would be, and the time of the presentation. 

“The expectation was that everyone would at least skim the article for the presentation they chose to go to,” Wilson said. “Whomever was presenting made a short Power Point presentation and gave 10-to-20-minute talk, breaking down the article, and then the people who attended had the opportunity to ask questions and have a short discussion.

“Our main emphasis to club members was that this was an opportunity to have some sort of experience at a time when people can’t get into hospitals to do any kind of volunteering or shadowing and learn more about the field, especially segments of the field that they may not be familiar with.”

“We plan on continuing the group for the time being and are recruiting new members.”

Wilson was able to get the word out about the club pretty quickly by contacting the pre-health advisor on campus, who was able to get the information on the pre-health/pre-med listserv.
Brooke Wilson
“We had about one hundred people who expressed interest from that, and we had around 70 or 80 that actually fully registered and engaged with the club over the summer,” Wilson said. “We started in April and had our first meeting in mid-May. We ended up having around 12 weeks of meetings with three or four meetings per week.”

In addition to some of the standard article discussions, the club also had a good series of special events. 

“We had a medical student panel,” Wilson said. “We had a surgeon at MUSC, who spoke to us about her education and experience. We had the pre-med advisor on campus give a presentation, and we had Dr. Lee Pearson (Professor and Associate Dean in the School of Public Health) who has headed up the Public Health segment of the University’s COVID response and planning team.”

After receiving a lot of positive feedback about the club, Wilson said it will continue to meet during this academic year.

“I think it went off really well,” Wilson said. “Our members elected three really great people to serve on the executive board, along with myself. We plan on continuing the group for the time being and are recruiting new members.

“One unique aspect of the organization is that it is very specific in its purpose. A lot of other student groups do education things, social events, and philanthropy. We have filled a need in the market at the University to really target one area, which is just purely education and presentation skills.”

The Pre-Health Virtual Journal Club is open to any student who is interested in the health or medical field and currently does not require any dues.