Clinical experience is weighing more heavily in medical school admission decisions. Most medical school admissions committees want to know that you have spent a considerable amount of time within a clinical setting, and actually "know what you are getting yourself into." This experience can take on several forms. Three of the most common ways to gain clinical experience are to shadow a physician, earn a clinical certificate as a C.N.A. or paramedic (E.M.T.) and to volunteer your time at a local hospital or clinic.
Shadow a physician
Simply contact a physician in your home area and explain that you are a pre-medical student at Wartburg and would like to "shadow" the physician for a couple of days. A reference may be provided on your behalf if requested. It is highly recommended that you begin shadowing a physician as soon as possible! Shadowing accomplishes several things:
- It gives you an understanding of what the day-to-day tasks of being a medical doctor are like.
- It helps you establish a relationship with a physician that could perhaps lead to a part-time job and/or someone to write you a letter of recommendation for medical school.
- It provides an opportunity for clinical experience for your medical school application.
- It is recommended that you do this for a couple of different physicians working in areas that you might be interested in (family practice, orthopedics etc.) This gives you a "heads up" on the type of medicine you are interested in.
Becoming a certified nurses assistant, paramedic or E.M.T. is a great way to get paid to gain clinical experience! Many, many Wartburg grads who have successfully matriculated to, and graduated from, medical school were either a C.N.A. or E.M.T. They made extra money, gained valuable clinical experience, and increased their knowledge of the field of health professions all at the same time! Some individuals have also worked as a phlebotomist for pay and experience as well (many hospitals will train you!).
Here are some links to where you can obtain education for these programs:
- Des Moines Area Community College C.N.A. Program (PDF)
- Kirkwood's Continuing Ed. Health Programs - C.N.A., E.M.S. etc.
- University of Iowa's Paramedic Training Program
You may want to volunteer your time at a local hospital, clinic, or nursing home. Volunteering a couple of hours one or two weekends a month can add up to a considerable amount of valuable time that benefits you and looks great on your medical school application!