Clinical Experience

Your participation in clinical experiences in healthcare settings shows your commitment to the profession. Students who are dedicated to pursuing a health professional career will likely have hundreds of hours of experience devoted to career exploration. Journaling during your clinical and observational experiences is valuable as these experiences are likely to become a part of your personal statement and secondary application essays. Required clinical hours can vary by program.

There are countless options through which to gain experience in the health professions. Academics, clinical, and life experience are all important to being a good candidate. Explore the sampling of opportunities listed here, then speak with a Pre-Health Advisor about your next steps!


Shadowing a practitioner can be a significant experience for any student interested in a career in the health professions. Not only is shadowing a necessary component for many professional school applications, but it can help you determine which health profession is a good fit for you. This is accomplished by observing the day-to-day experiences of a practitioner, which may inform you about a profession on a higher level than its standard job description. Shadowing can also facilitate a professional connection between you and a practitioner, which helps build your growing professional network!

Observe@UVA - Clinical Shadowing Program

UVA Pre-Health Advising facilitates Observe@UVA, a shadowing program to connect students with Charlottesville-based practitioners. Read more about this opportunity here.

Types of Clinical Experiences

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Clinical Research Assistant

  • Free Clinic Volunteer

  • Hospital Volunteer

  • Medical Assistant

  • Peer Health Educator

  • Pharmacy Tech

  • Scribe

  • And more!

Check out our Pre-Health Resource Card for available opportunities.

How to Seek Shadowing Opportunities

  1. Reach out to those in your personal network (family, friends, neighbors, etc.)

  2. Connect with Alumni 

    a. Virginia Alumni Mentoring (VAM)

     b. LinkedIn

3. Reach out to those that you don’t know

Sample email

For a full guide and details on each step in applying to medical school, read the Pre-Health Application Guide.