Medical Field Experience Advice

Hello all,

I have been thinking very seriously about returning to medical school and really love this site. It is incredibly inspiring to see so many non-trads returning to medical school with such enthusiasm and optimism! I have been so inspired by everyone’s story and unique journey. Thanks to all of you for your posts!

I have noticed that many of you have medical backgrounds. I was a chemist for 9 years and a CPA for the past 10 years. Since I don’t have a medical background, I really feel that it’s important for me to get some clinical experience before I go through with the application process. I won’t be applying for four years, so I feel like I have some time to try and find a meaningful clinical experience. Currently, I have been volunteering as a patient assistant at our local hospital for the past four months.

Should I continue as a patient volunteer? Should I get a part-time job in the hospital lab? Should I train to become an EMT? Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I feel like my application will be weakened with my lack of experience in the medical field and I really want to find the right way to round out that experience.

I would appreciate any thoughts and suggestions.


Hello and welcome to the site! When you’re thinking about extracurricular experiences, the best ones you can do are the ones that you enjoy. It’s more important to talk about your experience with enthusiasm. Any of the things you listed would be good on a resume, so by choosing any of those you won’t make your application weak. The thing is to pick one and stick with it. You have plenty of time, you can do a lot in four years. I would keep a log/diary just for your use. You can jot down things you see and how you felt about it. Come interview time it’s important to be able to articulate not just what you have done and seen, but how those things affected and/or changed you.

As for my personal experiences, I volunteered as a receptionist at a free clinic and did research at my local hospital. I love research and have continued to pursue it through med school, and volunteering gave me great personal interactions and taught me a lot about communicating and helping people in difficult circumstances. Good luck to you on your journey!

I was an engineer for over a decade before heading to medical school, so I didn’t have that medical background initially. I did take an EMT course and worked part-time as a medical scribe to help round out my application.

When you apply, you have to be able to show the adcoms three main things: 1) That you can handle the academic rigor of medical school, 2) That you understand what being a physician entails, and 3) That you’re a compassionate and well-rounded human being.

Volunteering and clinical experience contribute heavily to #2 and #3. IMO, the most important aspect about those experiences is that you’re interested and can write/talk about them. So, here’s your non-answer: Find something you’re truly interested in, that gets you exposure enough to understand what doctors do, and that you feel you’ll be able to talk passionately about those experiences.

I was non-medical and had about 50 hours of shadowing as my “clinical experience” prior to applying. I did have professional relationships with a couple of docs who mentored me and what not, but it was really just the shadowing for me.

Thanks for all of your responses. I will definitely start to keep a journal - great idea! And I will continue with the hospital volunteering - it’s been nice patient contact experience.

Thanks everyone!!