Gain First-hand Experience in Healthcare Settings
Students interested in a career in the health professions should gain first-hand experience in healthcare settings. These opportunities can help you clarify or confirm your career path.
Observe Professionals in Their Work Environment Through Shadowing
These experiences can reveal the type of care that is provided, the role this position plays in the health care team, the day-to-day work requirements, work-life balance, and more. We recommend that students obtain a minimum of 40 hours of shadowing in their field of interest prior to application. Many graduate programs and even individual schools have their own specific requirements and you should become familiar with them.
Beyond shadowing hours, you should gain significant clinical experience to make yourself a competitive candidate for admissions. Some ways to gain this experience are as follows:
- Internships and fellowships
- Clinical research opportunities
- Volunteering in hospitals, clinics, PT/OT offices, etc.
- Employment as a medical scribe, medical assistant, EMT, CNA, PT aide, caretaker, etc.
- Volunteering at animal shelters or veterinary clinics (pre-Vet)
- Formal experiences such as summer health professions education programs
- Volunteering at a social service agency, such as a suicide prevention hotline or Alzheimer’s Association
- Working or volunteering at a hospice center, retirement community, or crisis center
- Participating in hands-on trainings and certifications such as suture clinics, ski patrol, Wilderness First Aid, Search and Rescue, etc.
We highly recommended that you keep track of your clinical experiences by tracking the number of hours you complete as well as the insights and information you gain. View the Reflection & Your Pre-Health Portfolio page for suggestions and tips.