Clinical Experience

Clinical experience can help you learn more about careers in the health professions, determine whether healthcare is the right fit for you, and demonstrate your committment to pursing a particular profession. Two common ways to gain clinical experience include clinical volunteering and shadowing. Each is described in more detail below.

Clinical Volunteering

Clinical volunteer experiences involve volunteering in a healthcare setting, such as a clinic or hospital.

It's important to remember that your volunteer work should be meaningful to you! Don’t just do volunteer work to “check the box.” Working with organizations and populations that are important to you will allow you to have more meaningful experiences and a desire to continue to give back.

Use these questions to help guide the type of volunteer experience you choose:

  • What causes are meaningful to me (i.e. cancer research, feeding the poor, building homes)?
  • What populations are meaningful to me (i.e. children, adults, animals, cancer survivors, low-income, etc.)?
  • What regions are meaningful to me (i.e. my hometown, Atlanta, United States, global, etc.)?
  • How much time am I willing to commit (i.e. one weekend, a few hours a week, a whole week, etc.)?

Make the most of the experience and the time you spend in this effort by reflecting on it.  Keep a journal.  Make a note of your observations, your insights, the impact, etc. Asking yourself a few key questions following your experiences will also help you craft your application and interview answers. Be sure to keep track of your experiences using the volunteer journal and log.

Volunteer Emory is great starting point for finding health-related volunteer experiences at Emory. You may also consider Service Abroad and Alternative Spring Break programs. Emory students interested in gaining hands-on clinical experience should consider applying to join Emory Emergency Medical Service (EEMS). Keep in mind, EEMS is a very time-intensive committment.

Clinical Volunteer Opportunities in the Atlanta Area


Shadowing provides the opportunity to experience the day to day life of a health care professional. A variety of shadowing experiences is encouraged for exposure to different types of health care providers and settings. Most schools do not require a certain amount of shadowing hours, be sure to check the school (s) you are interested in to verify if shadowing is a pre-requisite. Shadowing a variety of health care professionals is recommended. Informational interviewing is another great way to learn more about health care professions. Some hospitals, clinics, private practices, and offices have strict requirements and do not permit shadowing, but the professional may be willing to sit down with you and talk with you about his/her career. You can find more information about informational interviewing on the Career Center website. With shadowing and/or informational interviewing, be sure to be professional in your dress and demeanor. It is always nice to follow up with a thank you note as well.

Shadowing Resources

  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Rehabiliation Observation (for students interested in PT, Audiology, and OT): Rehabilitation Observation.
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Physician Shadowing (only availbable to students who have volunteered 60 hours at CHOA).
  • Students may also apply to shadow at Gwinnett Medical Center.
  • Search the Emory Alumni Career Network for providers in your area.
  • Ask the people you know! Your own healthcare provider, family, friends, etc.

Emory Healthcare Observerships

In order to participate in an Observership Experience at any branch of Emory Healthcare, Emory undergraduate students must first complete the prerequisite requirements established by Emory Healthcare. Click HERE to access the prerequisites. Any exceptions to the prerequisite requirements must be approved by Emory Healthcare. If you have questions about Observerships at Emory Healthcare, please email Mallory Joynt ( Please note, the PreHealth Mentoring Office does not match students with Observership opportunities.

Anyone interested in shadowing at a branch of Emory Healthcare who is NOT an Emory undergraduate student should contact the Nursing Office of Credentialing ( for further instructions. This includes Emory graduate students and employees, as well as individuals outside of Emory.