Pre-Health Experiences

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Pre-Health Experiences

There are a variety of opportunities for pre-health students to gain exposure to healthcare settings, medical professionals, and patients. These experiences may be called:

Remember, it is not the title of the experience that matters but, rather, what you learned throughout the experience. Most health profession programs are unconcerned as to whether the opportunity is called an "internship" vs. "volunteer position" but will want to know how the experience shaped your view of healthcare and helps you articulate your capacity to be a great provider of care. 

Tracking Your Experiences

Unlike volunteering and shadowing in high school, an FSC advisor will not verify the hours you completed (but, you are required to report all extracurricular activities to the Career and Internship Coordinator - see the Guides and Forms section on the right hand side of this page). However, since you will need to report your activities on your future health profession applications, it is important that you keep a journal of your experiences for your own records. You should track experience start/end dates, supervisor information, average hours per week spent in the activity, and your reflections including: great moments, not so great moments, "ah-ha" moments, memorable patients/clients, difficult patients/clients, things you learned about yourself, things you learned about healthcare, hot topics in the field, new philosophies, new technology/devices you were exposed to, etc. Be sure to also notate the names of specific procedure as well as the correct medical/scientific terminology.  

Professional Observation Experiences

A Professional Observation Experience, commonly referred to as a “Shadowing Experience”, is an educational exploration where students can learn about a particular occupation or profession by observing or “shadowing” a practitioner in their professional environment. The Professional Observation Mentor is the individual the students is observing/shadowing. The Faculty Advisor, if applicable, is a faculty member at FSC who has sponsored this experience for academic credit.

Professional observation experiences allow students to better understand their field of interest, receive mentoring, establish a professional network, and make their academic studies more relevant. 

The following handouts provide additional helpful information:

Guides and Forms

FSC students majoring in Biology or Chemistry must report all extracurricular activities (even those not being completed for academic credit) to the Science and Pre-Health Career & Internship Coordinator.  Below are the Guides and Forms that students must review and submit for each off-campus experience.

Summer Experiences 

Check out the entire list of formal, clinical observation programs available over summer below. Each program determines their own eligibility, program duration, student responsibilities, etc. Note: most international programs require a significant fee to participate.

Summer Clinical Observation Programs Summer Clinical Observation Programs w/ Research International Opportunities

Professional Observation Placement

Students in the Pre-Professional Program (P3) who are interested in shadowing a healthcare provider in the Lakeland area are eligible to request a professional observation experience via the placement process. Through this process, the Career and Internship Coordinator will work to secure you an opportunity with a mentor that will provide a meaningful and worthwhile experience.

Learn More About the FSC Placement Program

Finding Your Own Clinical Observation Experience

Students are encourage to research and secure their own professional observation experiences throughout the school year, during school breaks, and overs summer. Generally, the process of researching facilities, outreaching to individuals, and securing an opportunity takes multiple weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that students begin the steps below well in advance of their intended start date.

Finding Observation Experiences

Notice for all students participating in clinical experiences abroad: You can face challenges when you travel to other countries if you don’t choose your program wisely and prepare in advance on how to react and behave in situations that may occur while abroad. Please review the following documents regarding appropriate patient care:
Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad from the AAMC
Finding an Appropriate Global Health Experience (provided with permission from the University of Minnesota)
Learning Ethically While Abroad (provided with permission from the University of Minnesota)



Volunteering in a Hospital or Clinic

Volunteering in clinical settings are unpaid experience that provide healthcare exposure while allowing you to show a commitment to the profession. When volunteering in a healthcare setting, students are introduced to the practice of medicine, the day-today responsibilities of the health care provider and the patient perspective.

Not all healthcare settings will allow volunteers but many hospitals and clinics have opportunities for volunteers (and will publish this information on their website). Volunteer responsibilities vary from location to location. Be sure to review this information as well as eligibility and  time requirements provided by each location.

Near to Florida Southern College are the following healthcare volunteering opportunities:

Healthcare providers are the ultimate servant leaders, so it is important that applicants can indicate tangible ways in which they help others.

You can show your service orientation in many different ways outside of a hospital or clinic. Students are encouraged to review the information found below:

Local Non-Clinical Volunteering Options



Direct Patient Care

Direct patient care experiences are different from observation and volunteering experiences in that, although you still observe healthcare providers at work, these experiences are ones in which you are directly responsible for a patient's care. Examples of activities included in direct patient care include, but are not limited to: prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, working on patients as an active EMT, drawing blood, taking vitals or providing personal hygiene care.  Unlike observing, direct patient care experiences usually incorporate physical contact with a patient and, therefore, traditionally requires a certification or on-the-job training. Additionally, many direct patient care opportunities are paid (although this is not required to be considered direct patient care- for example a volunteer EMT is not paid but if they are performing the traditional EMT role they are gaining direct patient care hours)!

Many different opportunities could fall into the realm of direct patient care. Some common roles that incorporate direct patient care are below (but many more exist). Remember that it is the job duties that make a position count as direct patient care. 
Positions that May Offer On-the-Job Training:                         
Positions that Typically Require Certifications: 
Note: In Lakeland, Travis Technical College offers training programs in Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, Optometric Assisting, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomy and more and Elite Healthcare Institute offers training programs in Phlebotomy, CNA, Medical Assisting, CPR/First Aid and more!

To secure positions, students will need to search for job openings through job board such as IndeedGlassdoor, LinkedIn Jobs, and hospital/clinic job boards. Many paid positions will be full-time and may be difficult to complete in conjunction with a full academic load. As direct patient care experiences tend to be paid opportunities, the Career and Internship Coordinator does not place students in these positions. 

Once you Have Secured a Pre-Health Opportunity

  • Complete the Professional Observation Agreement, Code of Conduct Form, and HIPPA Training and Quiz and return to the Career and Internship Coordinator, Review the Profession Observation Guides for more information.
  • Dress professionally and comfortably. For healthcare settings and labs this means closed-toed shoes and business profession dress (scrubs may also be appropriate depending on the location).
  • Confirm important logistical information with the professional. For example, when will it be appropriate to ask questions? For healthcare settings also establish how you will be introduced to patients and how a patient is asked if you can observe the patient-physician interaction.
  • After the experience, write a thank you note to give the professional on your last day that thanks them for their time. If you think it went well, consider asking for a letter of recommendation right away.