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Advice/thoughts needed on Clinical Exposure


Full Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2006
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi everyone!

Been posting mostly on the post-bac forum and reading your guys' posts here. Congrats to everyone who are getting acceptances right now! very inspiring!!!

I'm planning to start a postbac program this coming summer. I am no longer working and looking to spend the next 6 months doing clinical research or clinical volunteer work. I really want to make the most out of my time during these next 6 months before I become a full time student to get as much clinical exposure (benefits me to determine my own commitment to medicine and my med school apps down the road).

Does anyone have any advice into what I should be doing the next 6 months? I know the general drill - shadowing, volunteering at hospitals etc... but does anyone have any more specific advice in terms of what I should be looking out for, things to consider or make a note of etc? Also will any researchers take me onto their team if I have no lab experience and can only work with them for 6 months? Do I HAVE to have research under my belt if I want to apply to the top schools?

I've sent out a lot of e-mails trying to find some opportunities and am still waiting to hear back from all the people I emailed. I'm a little disappointed that I haven't heard anything back but I'm hoping it's because last week was a holiday week.

As a side note, I did a ton of public health type volunteer work in college, which included a lot of leadership positions. So I'm looking more for "clinical" work...

Thanks very much!!!
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Full Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2008
  1. Attending Physician
With such a short time frame you're basically looking at volunteer work. Some PI's are willing to take on volunteers in the lab, but usually only if you are a current student (or know someone) at their institution. But it never hurts to cold-email researchers.

I won't say that research is absolutely necessary for applying to top institutions, but you have to consider that almost every viable candidate for these schools will have great numbers and ECs. Distinguishing yourself will be hard in that crowd so every little bit helps.

As far as patient contact experience (which is what I assume you mean by clinical) you could always send out resumes, but for such a short time commitment you'll have a hard time getting a paying gig. I'd suggest doing something inpatient.

Sorry I can't be more specific. But really you want something that means something to you. So what ever you can find that involves biomedical research or time with patients will do. These things will mean more to your application if you can speak to them intelligently and insightfully in essays and interviews.

I guess if I were to be specific I got every gig paying or non-paying through:

1) Sending resumes/filling out applications at hospitals and universities
2) Cold emailing researchers
3) Asking professors if they could introduce me to someone where I could get some research experience
4) Registering with temp agencies that I knew staffed local hospitals.
Upvote 0
Aug 1, 2005
working on my tan......
  1. Attending Physician
I would try to get a volunteering position in an ER.

I am currently doing that and I have gotten alot of good experiences.

I get to do vitals, move patients around, assist nurses and docs.

The ER is a fun and exciting place to be. It is much better than the free clinic I used to volunteer in.
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Full Member
10+ Year Member
May 15, 2008
  1. Attending Physician
I think it will be hard to find someone to let you do research for only 6 months, but it might be possible if you know a professor, etc. Also, I don't know what your past public health volunteer work was...perhaps you can try at your local public health or med school...try cold calling or emailing physicians who work in areas related to your past work.

My best hint is to find a good hospital in your area, preferably one affiliated with a medical school, and try to volunteer there. I agree that the ER might be a good place...there tends to be a lot going on, and ER docs tend to be a friendly bunch. You might phone your postbac program and see whether they have any recommendations about the best hospital(s) nearby where you could do shadowing or volunteering.
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Full Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
  1. Attending Physician
You could try working as a Patient Care Technician. I did that over the summer and it was great experience! Some places may require a CNA certification. I didn't need it. It may be worth getting if it's only a few weeks. You might be able to even work part-time (PRN) while you start your postbac.
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