Where do I get experience?

Where do I go to get the experience/volunteer work, etc that medical schools like to see? I have no idea where to start…do I just start calling hospitals?
One that I called basically said there was no shadowing and it was mainly customer service type of volunteer work (answering phones, bringing water to patients, cleaning, etc).
I am in Oklahoma City if anyone has any ideas. I have no health care experience.

Hi and welcome to OPM,
I would suggest you find out if there are any free health clinics. That is where I volunteered for 3 years and gained a truck load of experience. By the time I left I was checking in patients, drawing blood, giving shots, counseling woman who just found out they were pregnant, etc. It was such a rewarding experience.
I would call any local med schools near you and ask the dean of admissions if they could recommend somewhere you could gain the experience you are looking for. That is how I found the free clinic where I went. You can also look in the phone book.
As to hospital volunteering, you could start doing the boring stuff and then once you have been there for a few months and have met people there, you could have a better chance to ask for a transfer to surgery or ER or whereever. But You really have to get your foot in the door and make some contacts first.
Good luck

Are you currently completing your undergrad or post bacc? If so, check with a pre-med advisor if available or a pre-med club. My advisor/club offered many opportunities for students to get these types of things under the belt. Also, call the medschools your interested in. Perhaps they have a program in which you can coordinate some volunteering/shadowing through an alumn (close to you) of the school or something. There’s nothing wrong with the customer service volunteer work you mention in your post. This is exaclty what I did in the ER that I volunteered in. You will definitely want to get at least one shadowing experience in with either an MD or DO. I got all of mine via a friend and my kids pediatrician. Ask your PCP if he/she would allow you to shadow or knows of a doc that would allow you to do that. You could always open up the yellow pages and start calling, but I would save that for a last resort.

You can also check with your local medical societies - they may have listings of members who are glad to host students for such experiences.

Hey there I am from Baton Rouge Louisiana. I decided I wanted to see what it was like to actually see what physician’s did in the course of a day. So I decided I would volunteer. Well how do you do that you ask? I went into The General, one of the better hospitals, and went to volunteer services. There I spoke with a nice lady explaining to her that I am a student considering the medical field and am interested in volunteering. She explained to me the way the schedule worked and I choose the times I was avaiable. Three hours a day three days a week. The only thing they require of you is to get tested for TB.


You can also check with your local medical societies - they may have listings of members who are glad to host students for such experiences.

Hi there,
Mary R. is correct but maybe someone might offer another shadowing experience at the OPM convention this year too. Look out for these kinds of offers this year and at next year’s convention too.

I did the same thing as Amy - volunteer at free clinic - tons of patient contact and improved my Spanish a lot! I am now working there as a medical assistant.
For shadowing doctors, I asked everyone I knew if they could suggest someone to shadow. Personal contacts got me all my best shadows; formal requests were pretty useless!