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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 commitment to pursing a particular profession. It is critical that you learn as much as possible about today’s health care delivery system through continuous exposure to the clinical setting.

Clinical experience can help you:

  • Learn how to interact with patients and their families
  • Gain insight into the business, social, and political aspects healthcare
  • Witness the the day-to-day life of a healthcare professional
  • Get experience being around sick and dying people

Make the most of your clinical experiences and the time you spend in this effort by reflecting on your experiences. 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 experience log and journal.

Clinical volunteer experiences involve volunteering in a healthcare setting, such as a clinic or hospital. As an Emory student, you have many options both on campus and in the Atlanta area. It's important to remember that your volunteer work should be meaningful to you! Clinical community service should not be looked at simply as a way 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.

Clinical Experiences Abroad:

Shadowing provides the opportunity to experience the day-to-day life of a healthcare professional. A variety of shadowing experiences is encouraged for exposure to different types of healthcare providers and settings. Most schools do not require a certain amount of shadowing hours, but be sure to check the school (s) you are interested in to verify if shadowing is a pre-requisite. Some hospitals, clinics, private practices, and offices have strict requirements for shadowing. 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 Rehabilitation Observation (for students interested in PT, Audiology, and OT): Rehabilitation Observation.
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Physician Shadowing (only available 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 be granted clearance from the Emory Healthcare Office of Observership Credentialing. This is a multi-step process that will take at least 4-5 weeks. To learn more about the process, including the pre-requisite requirements established by Emory Healthcare, and to access the initial application, click Click here to access the prerequisites. If you have general questions about Observerships at Emory Healthcare, please email your Pre-Health Advisor; however many of your questions will likely be answered after clicking the link above. Please note Pre-Health Advising 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 Emory Healthcare Office of Observership Credentialing ( for further instructions. This includes Emory graduate students and employees, as well as individuals outside of Emory.

Informational Interviewing is another great way to learn more about healthcare 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. Be sure to be professional in your dress and demeanor. It is always nice to follow up with a thank you note as well.

There are several options for students to participate in paid clinical experiences. Many paid opportunities require a significant time commitment and prior training, so students often choose to engage in these experiences during the summer or during a gap year.

Medical Scribe

A medical scribe specializes in charting provider-patient encounters in real time, such as during medical examinations. A medical scribe's primary duties are to follow a healthcare professional through his or her work day and chart patient encounters in real-time using a medical office's electronic health record (EHR) and existing templates. Some of the companies who hire and train scribes in the Atlanta area include:

Healthcare Consulting

Healthcare consultants examine the efficiency, profits, and structure of a healthcare organization and offer suggestions on methods of improvement. These positions can give applicants insight to the business and administrative side of healthcare. Healthcare Consulting jobs are full-time positions that require a bachelor's degree. Triage Consulting, based in Atlanta and San Francisco, is one example of a popular healthcare consulting company. To learn more about these types of positions, please visit the Career Center website.

Allied Healthcare Providers

There are several allied health professions that require minimal training (less than 1 year), making them ideal for pre-health students looking to gain experience during school breaks or gap year(s). These professions allow individuals to gain hands-on experience in a healthcare setting. To explore additional healthcare jobs that require minimal training, visit the Explore Health Careers website.

  • Phlebotomists: Phlebotomists collect blood for donation or for testing so the blood can be analyzed in a clinical laboratory. Phlebotomists work in clinical laboratories, hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, blood donation centers and other health care facilities. To become certified, you must complete 200 training hours and pass the national certification exam. More information: Phlebotomy Certification.
  • Medical Assistant: Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices and clinics of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and optometrists running smoothly. Many employers prefer to hire Certified Medical Assistants, however some clinical practices hire assistants provide on-the-job training. To become certified, you must complete a formal training program and pass the CMA Certification Exam. To find training program, visit the AAMA website. You can search for certificate-granting programs, which are generally shorter in length. For more information, see the Explore Health Careers website and check out the Medical Assistant Student Resource Guide.
  • Nurses Assistant: Nursing assistants help patients perform basic daily tasks. They work under a licensed nurse’s supervision, and since they have extensive daily contact with each patient, they play a key role in the lives of their patients and in keeping the nurse up to date on vital information about the patients’ conditions. To become certified, nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program. Find programs in the Atlanta area: local CNA programs.
  • Health Care Interpreters: Health care interpreters facilitate communication between patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and their physicians, nurses, lab technicians and other health care providers. Minimum requirements for the profession vary greatly from state to state. Most healthcare institutions prefer certified interpreters who have completed a training program. There are two national certifications for health care interpreters.
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs): EMTs provide first-line medical or emergency care for sick and injured people at the scene, which may be in the person’s home, at an accident site, or other places, and while they are being transported to the hospital for care. All states require EMTs to be licensed. EMTs usually complete a course that takes between 120 and 150 hours to complete, while AEMTs usually complete 400 hours of training. To obtain certification, individuals must complete an accredited Emergency Medical Services-Paramedic education program  and pass the national exam. Education programs typically take less than one year to complete.
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