Shadowing & Volunteering


Volunteering can take many forms. Don't think that you are required to volunteer in a medically related charity or cause just because you are a Pre-Health student. If you have enough exposure-to-the-field due to your Shadowing hours, then your volunteering hours can take place with any cause or organization that you are interested in. Medical schools have historically been interested in long-term experience. This means that you have spent many hours over the span of months or years volunteering with the same organization. A good ball park to start with is 30 hours spent with the same organization. You can certainly have smaller sets of volunteering hours here and there with other organizations, but make sure you commit to spending significant amounts of time with at least one organization in particular.

There are several ways to get involved with volunteering opportunities. Check out our Student Organizations Page. Most Pre-Health organizations are involved with volunteering in some way. Check out Jacket Pages to search for other community service related organizations. You can also "Google" organizations, keep an eye on the Pre-Health Digest for upcoming opportunities, or start your own initiative.



Shadowing counts as any time spent in an healthcare office where you interact with patients or observe a doctor who is interacting with patients. So, volunteering can count as shadowing hours as long as you have been around patients in some way. Filing does not count. Most medical and dental schools look for somewhere around 150 hours of "exposure to the field." Physical Therapy schools have minimums anywhere from 30-100 hours, but you don't want to be hanging on at the minimum. Physician's Assistant programs ask for anywhere from 1250-2500 hours, so get busy early. Make sure you check the websites for programs your are interested in applying to and fulfill their requirements for these hours before you apply.

Finding shadowing experience is not difficult. Unfortunately, there is no database of doctors, pharmacists, etc. around the Atlanta area who are willing to take in students to shadow. It is your responsibility to locate a professional who is willing to allow you to spend time in their office. Use your connections from home, volunteer at a hospital and develop relationships with those professionals, "google" professionals in the Atlanta area, ask your friends from the area who their doctors are, etc. Just get out there and find a way to connect. Typically, doctors will respond better if you come by the office in person and deliver your resume than if you just send them an e-mail. The worst they could say is no.