Summer is the perfect time to participate in healthcare experiences. Many students will use the summer months to gain most, if not all, of their healthcare exposure. Below are some common experiences for pre-health students.
Many healthcare facilities accept volunteers and the summer is a great time to participate in a multi-week experience. A simple google search will help you find most volunteering opportunities. Smaller facilities, such as private practices, may not have formalized volunteering programs, but you are encouraged to reach out to those locations to inquire into potential summer volunteering opportunities. Learn more about healthcare volunteering here.
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:
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. Learn more about shadowing.
Unlike observing, direct patient care experiences usually incorporate physical contact with a patient and, therefore, traditionally requires a certification or on-the-job training. Most students gaining direct patient care hours will do so through a part-time job (such as a CNA, EMT, Scribe, Phlebotomist, etc.). Summer is prime time for students who want (or need) to gain direct patient care hours as most students have expanded work availability. For students who still need to obtain a certification to be eligible to secure a part-time job, summer may be a good opportunity to complete the required coursework/exams. Learn more about direct patient care.
(International opportunities may require a substantial fee to participate)
Notice for all students participating in healthcare 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 Learning Ethically While Abroad (items above provided with permission from the University of Minnesota)
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.
Additionally, FSC students majoring in Biology or Chemistry must report all extracurricular activities (even those not being completed for academic credit) to the Director of Career Development.
Questions? Contact the Director of Career Development, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complete the Learning Agreement Code of Conduct Form, and HIPPA Training and Quiz found on the Reporting Experiences page and return to the Director of Career Development, email@example.com. Review the Professional Observation Guide 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.
Once you begin, track important details about your experience!
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.