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Clinical Related Experience
PreMedical and PreDental Advising

Obtaining a realistic view of any profession is a critical element in career decision-making, particularly in the health professions. This first-hand knowledge allows a student to learn what happens on the job and to test-drive a career to see if it is indeed a good fit for the student’s interests, abilities, strengths, and values. Professional schools expect that students will volunteer in an office or clinic and will shadow professionals for a significant period of time in order to understand the realities they will face in the future. Sometimes students start volunteering during high school and although this is commendable, schools are most interested in experiences that occur during the undergraduate years and any years that are between college and matriculation to professional school. 

Students will often ask how many hours of clinical related experience they need and what the minimum number of hours is. There is no predetermined answer, but rather each student must accumulate enough hours to obtain information about their chosen career field, the skills needed to do that job effectively, and how the student might fit into that work setting. Students are encouraged to read this article, “The Value of Volunteering” as you prepare to get started.

Medical

Clinical related experiences come in various forms—volunteering at a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office, or shadowing a physician. The following lists some of the organizations where UMBC students have completed clinical related experiences. Formal programs through which students were able to connect with a physician for shadowing are also included. Students can approach shadowing very informally by asking to shadow their primary care physician, a physician-friend of the family, or a physician listed within a student’s health insurance directory.

UMBC student athletic trainers gain valuable clinical experience by rehabilitating injured athletes, assisting in injury prevention, responding to injuries during varsity gameplay, and examining case studies. No prior experience in the field of sports medicine is necessary to become a student athletic trainer. Student athletic trainers must make a commitment to work for approximately 10 hours per week. Work is compensated monetarily, with physical education credit, or internship placement through The Shriver Center at UMBC. Interested students should contact the UMBC Sports Medicine Department.

Another resource is The Shriver Center at UMBC, which helps students connect to internship and service-learning experiences. If it is possible for pre-medical students to volunteer enough hours each week to earn credit for their experience, they can receive a notation on their transcript. Students should contact The Shriver Center to see if this is a possibility per their individual circumstance. In the eyes of the medical schools, it does not matter whether or not a student receives credit for their experiences. The experience, itself, is the most important factor.

Dental

Pre-dental students should note that over the past few years, competitive UMBC pre-dental applicants have been averaging 300 shadowing hours prior to applying to dental school. Again, there is great variability from one student to the next. In addition, students who are trying to decide between a career in medicine or dentistry should be aware that when compared to the medical schools, dental schools place a much higher priority on long-term clinical shadowing experiences. It is imperative for pre-dental students to demonstrate volunteer hours and in turn, to garner a letter of recommendation from a practicing dentist; whereas pre-medical students are not expected to obtain a letter of recommendation from a practicing physician. In other words, the threshold for clinical related experience hours is lower for pre-medical students when compared to pre-dental students.

Special Dentistry Programs that include a clinical experience component

Students can use these sites to find dentists to shadow

Below is a list of some of the dental offices where UMBC students have completed clinical related experiences. A student’s family dentist, a dentist-friend of the family, or dentists listed within a student’s health insurance directory are some other potential mentors to shadow.

Optometry

Students can get started by shadowing their family optometrist, an optometrist-friend of the family, or by seeking out an optometrist in the local area via the Yellow Pages.

Because Salus University is the closest optometry school to UMBC they have offered to assist our students in connecting with Salus alumni who practice optometry in the greater Baltimore area. If any UMBC student is interested in requesting help from Salus, they should email the Admissions Office at admissions@salus.edu. The Admissions Office will provide assistance with connecting a UMBC student with a Salus alumnus who is open to mentoring future optometrists.

Podiatry

Students can get started by shadowing their family podiatrist, a podiatrist-friend of the family, or by seeking out a podiatrist in the local area via the Yellow Pages. The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) has a well-established mentor network which provides easy access to practicing doctors of podiatric medicine who have expressed interest in providing shadowing experiences for pre-podiatry students. Current podiatric medical school students are also listed in the mentor network and can be great sources of information, although when UMBC pre-podiatry students are seeking shadowing hours, they should focus on connecting with the practicing DPMs.

Veterinary

Most veterinary schools require a minimum number of clinical shadowing hours prior to a student applying for admission to veterinary school. The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine requires applicants to secure 400-600 hours of shadowing experience with both large and small animals. Admission requirements vary per school and it is a student’s responsibility to be knowledgeable about the nuances of each veterinary school to which they plan on applying. Please refer to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) website which provides links to all of the veterinary schools and their admission requirements.

It is imperative for pre-veterinary students to demonstrate volunteer hours and in turn, to garner a letter of recommendation from a practicing veterinarian. The following sites may be helpful to find veterinarians to shadow and/or internship opportunities:

UMBC students have gained vet-related experience in the past from the local/regional locations listed below:

In addition, pre-veterinary students may apply to the following national programs:

MedicalDentalOptometryPodiatryVeterinary
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