Jun 22, 2012
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Hey all,

so being frustrated with not being able to find clinical experience in a hospital etc. i got some advice from some sdn members to volunteer at a free clinic-- now the catch is the free clinic will most likely only allow me to do a front desk admin like volunteering (is this clinical experience?)

Basically i will be scanning patient reports and picking up the phone 3- hours a week.

I am trying to get them to allow me to do vitals/triage but im not sure if this is possible yet...
 
Jul 18, 2012
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Hey all,

so being frustrated with not being able to find clinical experience in a hospital etc. i got some advice from some sdn members to volunteer at a free clinic-- now the catch is the free clinic will most likely only allow me to do a front desk admin like volunteering (is this clinical experience?)

Basically i will be scanning patient reports and picking up the phone 3- hours a week.

I am trying to get them to allow me to do vitals/triage but im not sure if this is possible yet...

You'll need some sort of certification (cna, emt) to do this. In fact, only nurses triage patients (hence the term "triage nurse"). I think what you described could still be considered clinical experience because, you are in the clinic. But if you want Patient Care experience using clinical skills you'll need to get certified first.
 
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Sep 26, 2012
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I do a similar thing but I'm also able to talk to patients and help them obtain their lab records or results so maybe see if you can try that out? SDN will say this won't county as clinical experience because the patients aren't dying or laying in bed.
 
Oct 3, 2012
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Front desk experience is definitely clinical. I worked at the front desk of a free clinic, and I was the sole person who signed patients in and out....that's smelling patients. Any interaction with patients is clinical experience. So if you're just doing filing work and don't have any interaction with patients, then that's a tough call. If you do, then yes, definitely.
 

SilverCat

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It's clinical experience in my opinion. You interact with patients, speak with them, and learn more about what happens in a clinical setting. You shouldn't be taking vitals or triaging unless you're trained-- and many people don't have the time to get that training ( case in point- phlebotomy courses take 10 weeks to complete).

I find the definition of clinical experience given by some people quite aggravating. It's just unrealistic to expect the average college pre med to be taking vitals, drawing blood, etc. It's almost as if they expect a pre med to be able to do the work of a nurse before becoming a doctor. Moreover, hospitals and clinics are unwilling to give pre- meds more responsibility- it's too great a liability. Would you want to go to hospital where Joe Schmoe, that eager- beaver college sophomore, is going to be the first person who will 'take care' of you? It's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

By the by, I worked in a free clinic, at the front desk, and it was the most rewarding experience that I had. If you're worried about smelling patients, I also had that opportunity; a patient handed me an open fecal sample on one occasion. Good times.
 
You'll need some sort of certification (cna, emt) to do this. In fact, only nurses triage patients (hence the term "triage nurse"). I think what you described could still be considered clinical experience because, you are in the clinic. But if you want Patient Care experience using clinical skills you'll need to get certified first.

Depending on where you are working, you may not need certification first to be able to take vitals. I work on a mobile health clinic where they just train you on the first day to help take patient vitals and you are ready to see patients. In your case with this clinic, you might. Once you are in med school, you can take vitals for the rest of your life, starting off technical skills early doesn't necessarily help your application.

If clinical opportunities are hard to find, I would take this position and do a good job. What you hope to take away is patient interaction (do you like it or not?), working in a medical team, an insight into the medical system and added community service. You can work your way up once you are in the system.
 

Mithril

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I volunteered as a receptionist for my local hospital's medical imaging department for nearly 5 years. It counted as clinical experience.
 

xXIDaShizIXx

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I would say it would be and who knows, after a while they may let you do more.
 
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It probably depends on what you do, exactly, but I volunteered at a free medical clinic and screened patients (ie, asked basic medical history) and that counted as clinical experience. I'd also suggest looking into working as a tech in a hospital. Not the most glamorous job, but that doesn't require certification and is definitely considered clinical.
 

dannybht

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Yes, I would think so. I'm working at a free clinic right now doing front desk stuff. My responsibilities range from speaking to patients while handing out their prescriptions, filing folders, do paperwork...It's a great clinical experience because you get to interact closely with the doctors, admin, and nurses.
 
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ShenanigansMD

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If you're interacting with patients and helping nurses/physicians organize paper work, you're observing how a medical clinic functions and gaining clinical experience at the big picture level; this is a really good thing, as it gives you an alternate perspective in rationalizing your choice of attending medical school. Combining this type of work with physician shadowing would give you a much better idea of what's going on rather than one or the other alone.
 
Jun 22, 2012
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Hey guys,

Thanks for all your responses! I feel much better about this now and less disheartened. I understand the point of view of how the front desk is actually clinical IF you interact with patients and I will be sure to discuss this with my supervisor.

Again much thanks
 

music2doc

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I always refer back to LizzyM:



So unfortunately, the front desk work would not be clinical.

This would most definitely count as "clinical experience." It is FAR more clinical in nature than what 99% of pre-meds do (change linens and hand patients cups of water in the ED). Sure, it's not as fun as being an ED Tech nor as good a learning experience as being an EMT but the OP will learn plenty about pt care and customer service in the clinical setting from this position.
 

HughMyron

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When I worked at the desk I routinely transported patients around the hospital.

I guess, since I could smell them (sometimes to my chagrin) it counted as clinical work.
 

torshi

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Oct 26, 2010
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Hey all,

so being frustrated with not being able to find clinical experience in a hospital etc. i got some advice from some sdn members to volunteer at a free clinic-- now the catch is the free clinic will most likely only allow me to do a front desk admin like volunteering (is this clinical experience?)

Basically i will be scanning patient reports and picking up the phone 3- hours a week.

I am trying to get them to allow me to do vitals/triage but im not sure if this is possible yet...

if there was no patient contact then no.... As a volunteer without even doing vitals etc I was in the patient rooms catering to their needs whether it be food, drinks or blankets. And as for the other posters - pushing patients is not clinical exp sorry. Try to get a real volunteer position in the ER running around changing rooms and replacing linen
 

Winged Scapula

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You'll need some sort of certification (cna, emt) to do this. In fact, only nurses triage patients (hence the term "triage nurse"). I think what you described could still be considered clinical experience because, you are in the clinic. But if you want Patient Care experience using clinical skills you'll need to get certified first.

Depending on where you are working, you may not need certification first to be able to take vitals. I work on a mobile health clinic where they just train you on the first day to help take patient vitals and you are ready to see patients. In your case with this clinic, you might. Once you are in med school, you can take vitals for the rest of your life, starting off technical skills early doesn't necessarily help your application.

If clinical opportunities are hard to find, I would take this position and do a good job. What you hope to take away is patient interaction (do you like it or not?), working in a medical team, an insight into the medical system and added community service. You can work your way up once you are in the system.

The latter poster is correct.

While there are indeed certification programs for Medical Assistants, they are not legally required. As a matter of fact, no specific training is required. One of the best MAs we ever had (in terms of patient care) was a former salesperson that we trained ourselves; too bad she never got the hang of not rolling her eyes when the physicians asked her to do something she didn't want to do.

But no license or specific education required.

I would note that working the Front Desk is one of the most important jobs in the office; its the face of the practice - I'll leave the Clinical debate up to you guys.
 
Sep 26, 2012
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if there was no patient contact then no.... As a volunteer without even doing vitals etc I was in the patient rooms catering to their needs whether it be food, drinks or blankets. And as for the other posters - pushing patients is not clinical exp sorry. Try to get a real volunteer position in the ER running around changing rooms and replacing linen

Wait...so pushing patients is not clinical experience but catering to their food needs or giving them a blanket is? Real volunteer position is changing rooms and replacing linen? Are these real sentences I'm reading? This is the exact form of SDN prickly pear measuring that drives me nuts.
 
Jul 18, 2012
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The latter poster is correct.

While there are indeed certification programs for Medical Assistants, they are not legally required. As a matter of fact, no specific training is required. One of the best MAs we ever had (in terms of patient care) was a former salesperson that we trained ourselves; too bad she never got the hang of not rolling her eyes when the physicians asked her to do something she didn't want to do.

But no license or specific education required.

I would note that working the Front Desk is one of the most important jobs in the office; its the face of the practice - I'll leave the Clinical debate up to you guys.

Heh, she doesn't sound that good to me:)
 

LizzyM

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I just want to say that I coined the term "smelling patients" because of disucssions like this. Adcoms do not expect applicants to be medical assistants or nurses or EMTs before they are admitted to medicial school but they do expect exposure to patients. It is not necessary that you touch the patients but you should be close enough to smell them.(It is not required to literally give the patient a sniff test as one PM once asked me. :laugh: )

I think that the first hurdle in patient care settings is seeing people in distress or in undignified circumstances and becoming comfortable speaking with patients-- even if the conversation is just to say something pleasant as a greeting. If you are able to accomplish that as volunteer or in a paid position or while shadowing, you have had a clinical experience by my definition.
 
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