What is Considered Clinical Experience for Medical School?

What is Considered Clinical Experience for Medical School – Overview

Medical students often struggle to understand the clinical experience. When you are wondering how to prioritize your medical school’s extracurricular requirements, it is crucial to understand the clinical experience. You should also be aware of the different types of clinical experiences and how each can help improve your medical school application.

Everyone wants a strong and impressive medical school CV, and no one wants to have glaring gaps in the CV just because they do not know about the requirements. To help you along the way, here are some important facts about clinical experience in medical school.

2 Types of Clinical Experiences

What Is Considered Clinical Experience for Medical School

What Is Considered Clinical Experience for Medical School – 2 Types of Clinical Experiences

Here are the two main types of clinical experience required for medical school in the US:

1. Volunteer Clinical Experience

Volunteer experiences are often considered clinical hours and typically overlap with them. It is advisable to take up some volunteer clinical work while figuring out how to meet this requirement.

Unpaid clinical experiences often involve volunteering at clinics, hospitals, or similar healthcare facilities. These medical centers usually have an ongoing requirement for volunteers to fill in for administrative and service tasks. This clinical experience is best if you seek a less demanding part-time clinical experience.

Additionally, volunteering at healthcare facilities offers medical students valuable networking opportunities with professionals in the field.

However, you should ensure that your role as a volunteer involves a significant amount of hands-on medical activities, not administrative or clerical tasks. If your present position does not allow you to do so, you can request that the hospital administration assign you tasks that involve more exposure to the clinical side.

2. Paid Clinical Experience

Many students also find jobs at hospitals or clinics to get paid clinical experience. However, obtaining paid clinical experience comes with certain challenges. Most medical undergraduates cannot commit to a full-time job due to demanding pre-med courses and other admission requirements. So, a part-time job on weekends or evenings is an excellent choice for such students.

Securing a paid job in a clinical role can be difficult for younger students due to the requirements for qualifications, certifications, or advanced medical skills. Understanding these challenges, many medical schools do not expect undergraduate applicants to have extensive paid clinical experience.

This is usually true when you are a traditional medical school applicant still completing your undergraduate degree.

Expectations for clinical experience differ for non-traditional medical school applicants. For instance, if you have not been studying after school and are currently working in a clinical position, such as a PA or nurse, you should have thousands of hours of clinical experience. In the same way, If you take a gap year before medical school, working in a clinical role, whether paid or volunteer, can enhance your resume.

Regardless of the number of clinical hours, it’s crucial to demonstrate their impact in your medical school application. A well-drafted application that is backed by significantly long and meaningful clinical experience can give you an advantage over other non-traditional applicants.

3 Places to Get Clinical Experience

Medical schools consider relevant clinical experience where the applicant has first-hand clinical experience. This is crucial for the medical school’s admissions committee to determine a few things about the applicant.

Meaningful clinical experience provides insight into the realities of a career in medicine. It helps develop the skills required for direct patient care and treating people from diverse backgrounds. Relevant experience at a hospital or clinic prepares the students to understand hospital and clinical environments and what it means to work as part of a dynamic medical team.

Significantly, relevant clinical experience demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to pursuing a career as a physician.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the top 3 places to get clinical experience for medical school:

1 – Shadow a physician

Shadowing a physician is one of the most common ways to get relevant clinical experience before medical school. Licensed doctors often allow students to observe direct patient care, which lets the students understand the reality of working as a healthcare provider. By shadowing a physician, you get clinical exposure and the opportunity to get mentoring from a professional who can continue to guide you as you move up your medical career.

You can contact a pre-med advisor at school or within your college network to ask for leads for local opportunities to shadow a physician.

2 – Volunteer at a Hospice

Volunteering to work at a hospice is another common way to get relevant clinical experience before medical school. Hospice care focuses on maintaining the quality of life for individuals suffering from time-limiting illnesses.

You can expect to have a varied role when working as a volunteer at a hospice. You can contact the Hospice Foundation of America (AFA) to learn about local opportunities for hospice volunteers, at their official website here https://hospicefoundation.org/Volunteer.

Your role as a hospice volunteer will generally involve supporting the patients, offering support to their families and caregivers, and working closely with the institute’s bereavement staff.

Pre-med advisors suggest that hospice volunteering is probably the most effective way for pre-med students to understand the toll of caring for a dying patient. This position can help you learn fundamentally valuable skills essential for a career in medicine.

3 – Volunteer as an EMT

Volunteering as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) is an excellent way to get entry-level care provider experience. There is a distinct fast pace and unpredictability when working in an ambulance. It helps pre-med students by exposing them to various medical conditions and scenarios they may face while working in emergency or critical care units.

Emergency medical technicians must respond to a wide range of potentially fatal issues, such as car accidents and cardiac arrests, in addition to minor complaints like sprained ankles. Volunteer EMTs also often work closely with other professionals, like firefighters and police officers. This gives pre-med students a great opportunity to understand the specific healthcare needs of the community they serve.


Clinical experience is crucial for aspiring medical students to realize their fundamental duties as certified physicians. It also prepares them with the skills and know-how required to become an empathic healthcare provider. You should seek hands-on experience in a position involving direct patient care.

Administrative and clerical duties are not classified as clinical experience for pre-med students. You can talk to a pre-med advisor for specific details and information on clinical experience for medical school.

See Also

Easiest Medical Schools to Get Into

NYU Medical School Acceptance Rate

Sonogrophy Schools in California

University of Miami Medical School

Follow us