Volunteering/Shadowing Leads in DC/MD/VA

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Jan 28, 2018
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Hi all,

I'm a non-traditional applicant currently working full-time in a non-medical field. I've been having trouble finding doctor's offices or clinics in the DMV area that are open to non-student volunteers who are only available during non-business hours (anytime other than 9am-6pm on weekdays). If you all have any leads, I would be grateful to have them!

Also, I am currently volunteering a 1-2 hours per week at a nursing home. Since I'm really new to this process, I'm sure how that is perceived by admissions committees - does that qualify as clinical volunteering/exposure, since it isn't a doctor's office or hospital? (Side note: aside from how it looks to admissions, I'd also just like to gain some more experience in clinical settings with a wider age range of patients).

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Can you volunteer at a hospital? If you can get in there, you'll have a better shot getting a doctor to let you shadow probably. The hospital I volunteered at allowed me to volunteer in the mornings before work, and I believe the had volunteering on Saturdays too.
I agree with above. You should contact the medical education department at your local hospital (assuming it has a residency) and talk to them about doing an observership. You will get to shadow attendings as well as residents, maybe even get a letter out of it.
PS: I wrote an article on my website about this process and other considerations for extra years before medical school you may find interesting: 5 Secrets to an Effective Gap Year: Become a Purple Cow
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If you’re open to volunteering in hospice care, try Capital Caring. You can pick which hours that work best for you any day or night of the week (there are occasionally overnight shifts as well if that appeals to you). This is so much easier than going through all the hoops required at a local hospital. It’s one of the only places you can do patient care as a volunteer, so you will gain clinical experience too. The executive administration is very disorganized and treat it’s paid staff poorly, but overall I found volunteering there very rewarding.

Also, there are physicians that rotate through each week who are usually willing to let you shadow them as long as you’re already vetted as a volunteer.
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Hospice is a great volunteering opportunity. The hospice I volunteer for is really awesome and they take good care of their patients. I would suggest thoroughly researching any hospice organization you are interested in prior to signing up. There are lots of good ones out there but also some bad ones.
The Inova Health System in NOVA (Fairfax/Haymarket area) has a shadowing program built into it. You just have to go to the website and fill out some information. It is pretty easy to get into it, and you can shadow different types of physicians. A few members of my cohort have done it.

Here’s the link:

Physician Observerships at Inova Health System - Inova