Gain more clinical experience

Clinical experience is one of the most important aspects to present on a health professions application. Especially over the past two years, due to the pandemic, it has been difficult for many prospective applicants to gain in-person direct patient care and shadowing hours. If you have struggled to accumulate the minimum number of hours that we would recommend in both of these areas, taking at least one growth year will allow more time to seek out and take advantage of available opportunities.

Clinical experience is important for two key reasons: 1) admissions committees want to ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into, and 2) they want to see that you are aware of the day-to-day responsibilities of a medical or dental physician, and that you’ve had the opportunity to engage with patients in a clinical setting. If you have not yet been able to gain significant clinical experience, we encourage you to read this blog post, written by one of our Health Professions Peer Ambassadors, entitled The Importance of Clinical Experience.

Nationally, the data shows that over two-thirds of health professions applicants have taken at least one growth year. Given the additional years many people are taking to bolster their candidacies before applying, this means that the average number of clinical hours an applicant applies with is rising. While it is possible to gain a wealth of clinical experience while still being an undergraduate student, it is typically more difficult for people as they attempt to balance classes, extracurricular involvements, and a social life. Taking additional time allows one to fully dedicate at least a year to working in a clinical setting.

For a detailed list of resources you can utilize to find clinical experience, please visit our website’s page on Clinical Experience, linked here.

If you are interested in engaging in post-graduate research work, you might consider looking into positions offered at Yale, linked here.

When thinking about what kinds of clinical experiences to pursue, our office encourages you to think about what your interests and strengths are, and how you can select opportunities that align with those. For instance, if you know you have an interest in working with women and women’s health issues, seek out experiences that allow you to work with those populations and deepen your sense of understanding around present issues in the field. If you think you would like to work with geriatric populations in the future, choose experiences that allow you to work with elderly patients/peoples and develop your social skills in that realm.

Conversely, if you do not have a distinct interest in one area yet, try to instill variety and diversity in your experiences. If you have worked as an EMT during your undergraduate years, perhaps pursue a job as a CNA, that will allow you to get a different view and perspective on medical care. If you had previously worked as a medical scribe in a small private practice, see if you can’t find a scribing position in a large, bustling hospital.