What is Shadowing vs Clinical Experience?

Your preparation for any Health Career should include shadowing - this is the best way to confirm that you want to pursue that field. In a shadowing or observation capacity, you will generally do very few “hands-on” tasks. However, this is a valuable opportunity for you to ask questions of the professional you are shadowing. Find out why they chose the field, how they went from undergraduate to their current job, what they like best about their job, and what they find most challenging about their job. Try to picture yourself working in that role in that environment - is this the right fit for you?

Clinical experience is distinct from shadowing, primarily because you are performing more “hands-on” tasks. Only Physician Assistant programs require a specific amount of clinical experience hours for your application. To complete these hours, students typically work as first responders, EMTs, medical assistants, phlebotomists, or certified nursing assistants (CNAs). More specific information about these options is provided below. Though only PA programs require clinical experience hours, this type of experience will enhance your resume for any Health Career.

Start by making a phone call to your area hospital or doctor’s office, and ask if they are hiring any entry-level positions. Tell them your story and how you can help them with summer and holiday staffing. There are many positions that only require on the job training.

Clinical Experience Options

CNA – Certified Nurse Aide/Assistant Training is sometimes available through nursing homes for free. Many community colleges and even some hospitals offer training programs. Your job responsibilities will include meeting patients’ personal care needs. This job is typically in high demand at nursing homes especially. You can work for United Helpers or Maplewood in Canton, and there are several other local employers. This certification is something you could also utilize during summers/breaks in your home area.

First ResponderOnly American Heart Association Basic First Aid and Basic Life Support CPR classes required. You can join SLU EMS with this credential.

EMT – Emergency Medical Technician:  SUNY Canton offers certification training. SLU EMS is an on-campus organization, and students often ride with Canton Fire & Rescue while on campus.

Medical Assistant and Medical Scribe:  DO NOT pay for certification classes (certification is voluntary and not associated with increased employment). Your job responsibilities could include recording information in a patient’s chart, taking vitals, sitting as a 1 on 1 with a confused or suicidal patient, preparing specimens for lab testing, or cleaning equipment.

Phlebotomist:  Community colleges offer this short certification, but some students have had trouble securing a position, and had to travel broadly in order to do so.

Student Athletic TrainerBe a student worker in the Athletic Training Room.  While most student workers take the spring course Introduction into Sports Medicine, which is part of the Exercise Science and Sport Studies Minor, the only requirement is CPR/AED/First Aid certification.  Brian Atkins and Aisha Visram are the Athletic Trainers on campus and contact people for the class and work opportunity.

Summer Opportunities