Pre-Med Summer Program Spotlight: Outset

March 16, 2024

outset premed summer programs

For many, the pre-med journey can feel like an endless road disappearing into the horizon, with the years of intensive coursework, residencies, and internships becoming too difficult, overwhelming, and expensive to navigate. As a result, talented students exit pre-med pathways in large numbers, with a recent study finding that only 16.5% of students who begin pre-med coursework during their undergraduate years ultimately graduate with the required coursework for medical school. However, what if students would be less likely to leave the pre-med pathway if they were better prepared? What if they had a better sense of what their medical school journeys could look like, of what their lives would look like as a practicing physician? What if they could cultivate an early and powerful excitement for the medical field that propelled them through their years of schooling and training? Enter Outset’s pre-med summer programs.

After watching too many talented students leave the pre-med pathway—most often due to lack of preparation, planning, and guidance—Outset’s founders were determined to create a program where high schoolers could explore the answers to two major questions: “what does it take to become a doctor?” and “what is it like to be a doctor”? In today’s blog, we’re doing a deep dive into Outset’s intensive, one-week pre-med summer programs that give aspiring physicians, nurses, PAs, and other healthcare practitioners the motivation and practical knowledge they need to enter college well-prepared for the long haul. Ready? Let’s dive in.

What’s special about Outset?

If you’re considering the pre-med pathway, it’s likely that you’re comparing a number of different summer programs. While other premedical programs might be focused on science and STEM-related skills, Outset’s goal is to give students practical, real guidance on the medical education journey—one of the most intense educational journeys that any person can undertake. Although hands-on activities are part of the program (see more below), Outset uniquely focuses on the nitty-gritty ins and outs of medical education and careers. As such, you’ll gain clinical skills, insider medical school knowledge, an understanding of day-to-day doctor life, and an introduction to hot-button medical issues all in one place.

Moreover, Outset will be your first taste of what it is like to be part of a vibrant medical community. Healthcare is a dynamic and collaborative profession, with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals constantly relying on each other’s expertise and experience. In addition to the friendships and connections you’ll make with the other students in the program, Outset is both endorsed and staffed by practicing physicians who will provide you with invaluable insight into the inner workings of the medical world. Ultimately, you’ll leave the program inspired to continue seeking out similar networks during your undergrad years and beyond.

Who developed Outset?

The team is led by Executive Director Lawson Kuehnert, a UNC-Chapel Hill honors alum who previously managed a global pre-med summer program that worked with over 50 hospitals and hosted over 1,500 students per year. He felt passionate about creating a program where high schoolers could truly understand what it takes to be a doctor, and developed Outset alongside a team of educators, program operators, and physicians who are similarly invested in guiding the next generation of medical professionals. With their unique curriculum, decades of experience, and focus on community, Outset makes it possible for prospective medical students to plan for the future with both realism and excitement.

What type of pre-med summer programs does Outset offer?

Outset offers three distinct, one-week tracks:

All tracks are in-person and located on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. In each track, students will do a deep dive into related careers, participate in practical, hands-on activities, attend special lectures and guest speakers, and tour Duke Medical School as well as UNC Chapel Hill Medical School. Want more detail about what a typical day looks like? Let’s break it down:

For the first few hours of your day, you’ll attend a series of morning sessions. These sessions are typically 45 minutes each. Topics revolve around how students can prepare for the medical path, including:

  • Overall medical education timeline
  • Choosing the right college/university for pre-med
  • Typical pre-med challenges and how to prepare
  • How to succeed in tough pre-med classes
  • How to prepare for the MCAT

Pre-Med Summer Program Spotlight — Continued

After lunch and some free time, you’ll head to several hours’ worth of afternoon sessions, which are specialty-focused and hands-on. If you’re in the Primary Care track, for example, you might expect sessions like:

  • What it takes to be a primary care doctor, including medical school and residency
  • Primary Care Doctor Panel
  • Hands-on skill practice, such as taking blood pressure, listening for heart sounds, conducting ultrasounds, and analyzing scans
  • Up-and-coming impacts on primary care doctors, such as new types of technology

After a short break, you’ll then make your way to an evening speaker from Duke Medical School or UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Speakers are physicians, professors, or thought leaders who delve into big-picture topics like AI, medical technology, global health, and United States-specific public health challenges, among others.

Post-dinner, you’ll have a chance to connect with your fellow Outset attendees in fun experiences that could include movies, ice cream outings, Capture the Flag, board games, Ultimate Frisbee, etc.

Finally, at the end of the week, you’ll participate in medical school tours at Duke Medical School and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. There, you’ll hear from faculty and staff at both schools about training, research opportunities, and admissions.

Each day, you’ll have about 1-2 hours of free time when you can study, relax, nap, or unwind. Otherwise, expect to be busy and engaged!

Which track would be best for me?

Not sure whether to select Primary Care, Pediatrics, or Surgery? If you’re just starting to explore medical careers or have an interest in family/internal medicine, you might consider applying to the Primary Care track. If you’re excited about the possibility of working with children, the Pediatrics track would be the best option. Finally, if you’ve been considering medicine for several years and feel most drawn to careers in surgery, the Surgery track would likely be most rewarding. No matter which track you choose, though, you’re guaranteed to leave with new, useful, in-depth knowledge about the medical field that will positively benefit you for years to come.

Interested in more than one track? Consider enrolling in multiple tracks—one per week—for an incredibly comprehensive introduction to myriad specialties.

Who teaches Outset’s classes?

You’ll be in capable hands at Outset, as all classes are taught by professors and physicians affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke Medical Schools. Moreover, Outset’s Advisory Board includes four practicing physicians at various points in their medical careers:

  • John Reynolds, the Medical Director of the Lung Transplant Program at the Duke University Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine in Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine
  • Brent Senior, the Nathaniel and Sheila Harris Distinguished Professor and Chief of the Division of Rhinology, Allergy, and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine
  • Alice Li, a Resident Physician in Anesthesiology, Perioperative, & Pain Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine
  • George Bugarinovic, a Resident Physician in Orthopaedic Surgery at Stanford Health Care

Most importantly, you can expect a 7:1 student-to-staff ratio, meaning that you’ll have plenty of attention throughout Outset’s summer program. All staff receive background checks and thorough training.

Who can apply?

Current freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors between the ages of 14-18 years old can apply to Outset. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, you’ll benefit from a very early look at what your career path of interest entails, allowing you the opportunity to structure your remaining high school years very intentionally. If you’re a junior or senior, the insight you gain at Outset will be immediately applicable to the college search & application process, undergraduate course scheduling and management, prospective clinical experiences, and more.

During the admissions process, Outset is looking for mature, ambitious students with top grades. You should also have a track record of leadership and a strong interest in medicine. To complete the application, you’ll need 1-2 references from a teacher, and will be scheduled for a short interview. Ultimately, about 40-60 students will be invited to join each week of the program.

Ready to apply? Head to Outset’s website and click ‘Start Application.’

When is Outset offered?

Outset is a one-week pre-med summer program that is offered during June and July. The 2024 schedule is as follows:

  • June 16-21
  • June 23-28
  • June 30-July 5
  • July 7-12

What is Outset’s tuition?

Outset’s tuition is $2,499 for one week and includes housing, meals, 20+ hours of classroom instruction, events, speakers, activities, extracurriculars, and transportation between activities, if necessary. Moreover, students stay in dorms on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus and eat all meals in UNC dining facilities. Camp staff and counselors live on campus with students and are available 24/7. There is also a 24/7 security team on UNC’s campus.

Final Thoughts — Outset Pre-Med Summer Programs

Before committing yourself to an intense, high-stress, and expensive career path like medicine, we highly recommend doing everything you can to educate yourself on what it takes to be successful. As such, Outset’s pre-med summer programs are well worth the investment, equipping you with not only the knowledge you’ll need to navigate your medical education journey with confidence but also the excitement and passion required to thrive during your years of training and beyond.

Looking for more pre-med resources? You might consider checking out the following blogs: