Students: Get a peek inside a medical career

The Summer Medical Explorers program is a chance to experience working with patients

Summer Medical Explorers volunteer An Lee

An Le, a biochemistry student at the University of Minnesota, thought she wanted to enter the medical field, but had her doubts.

“I know the process of becoming a medical professional is very demanding, expensive, and time consuming, so I wanted to know what I was getting myself into,” An says.

After being a part of Fairview’s Summer Medical Explorers program, An is certain of her future — and still reaping some surprising benefits.

In-person training, real-life experience

In addition to working in a research lab last summer, An was a Summer Medical Explorers volunteer. Participants attend weekly training as a cohort and volunteer at least eight hours each week from mid-June to mid-August.

“I was really interested in those in-service training sessions,” An says. “I was looking to get more exposure to medicine and get a whole picture of it. Those sessions were very informative.”

During the program, An volunteered with Fairview Hospice, which aligned to her interest in geriatric medicine. She visited with a number of patients and saw first-hand the realities of caring for patients in their final days.

“My interest in geriatrics has been confirmed thanks to my experience with the program,” says An. “Becoming a geriatric physician will help me make a difference in some people’s lives.”

But the program did more than help An understand her educational and professional future.

Benefits beyond medicine

Visiting with elderly patients was an eye-opening experience for An. Her patients didn’t fit the sad stereotype about people at the end of their lives.

Instead, patients were lively, eager to learn new things, generous with stories about their lives, and delighted by small gestures. An recalls how overjoyed a patient felt because they got a call from their granddaughter, and what she learned from it.

“As a young person, sometimes I move too fast and miss the simple things that are meaningful. Spending time with patients at Fairview Hospice helped me slow down and live more purposefully,” says An. “This program helped me understand myself beyond my career goals.”

Since the program ended, An has continued to volunteer with Fairview Hospice. While the Summer Medical Explorers program helped her see if she was a good fit for the medical field, An knows there is more to learn.

“I learn from the elderly because they have lived longer than me and have more wisdom,” An says. “I can use this knowledge beyond medicine — it’s helping me develop as a person.”

Apply by May 29

Space is limited to 20 students per site, and applications are due Wednesday, May 29.

To apply for our hospital-based Summer Medical Explorers programs:

Questions? Contact Melissa Rousu at or 651-232-2191.

To apply for our hospice Summer Medical Explorers program:

Questions? Contact Fairview Hospice Volunteer Services at or 612-728-2455.

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