Gaining Clinical Experience

The only real way to know if the health professions are right for you is to gain some exposure and experience in a clinical setting. This can include spending time with doctors, other practitioners, and most importantly with patients.

Opportunities for Clinical Experience

Nathan Smith Society Shadowing Program

Dartmouth is very fortunate to have a robust Shadowing Program, at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center & White River Junction VA Hospital, that allows students to spend time witnessing what doctors do day-to-day. Currently, this is managed by the faculty advisor for the Nathan Smith Society, Dr. Lee Witters. Freshmen are encouraged to participate! There are no prerequisites for the program, but there are necessary forms and immunizations. 

Volunteering/Working in a Clinical Setting

Students can participate in local, domestic, and international programs while at Dartmouth or during times they are off-campus such as:

  • Dartmouth Center for Service is a great place to learn about clinical opportunities in the area, throughout the US, and internationally. A few examples (there are many more) include:
    • Cross-Cultural Education and Services Program Nicaragua trip
    • Boston Community Health Internship
  • Dickey Center's Global Health Initiative is a Dartmouth-wide program dedicated to improving the health of the world's population through multidisciplinary research, education, and service.  While there are MANY opportunities through the Dickey Center, these are a few examples:
    • DarDar-Dickey Internship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    • The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CHRP) in Jamkhed, India
    • Population Health and Development (PHAD) in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Volunteering: Dartmouth students are encouraged to volunteer at DHMC through many of its programs and services, such as (but not limited to):
    • Emergency department volunteer
    • Patient Support Corps
    • Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) Breastfeeding Peer Support
  • NSS Off-Term Database: Students also find opportunities in different US cities or their own hometowns through the NSS Off-Term Database (NetId and password required). Dartmouth students have gained clinical exposure by working as:
    • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
    • Clinical researchers
    • Medical Scribes
  • Center For Professional Development: Through DartBoard, use the Healthcare internship/job filter to find opportunities across the U.S.
  • Undergraduate Advising and Research is a good place to find professors or faculty members that are involved in science-related research--especially those involved in clinical research. UGAR is developing a Research Directory in the upcoming months specifically dedicated to pre-health students.
  • Google is also a very useful tool in finding opportunities outside of Dartmouth. It is your responsibility to utilize your resources to find opportunities that are meaningful to you.

Volunteering/Working Abroad

While some students choose to engage in volunteer abroad experiences, there are very important considerations that must be taken before participating in an abroad program. Please review the AAMC's Guidelines for Students Providing Patient Care Abroad.

The most important note in the guidelines: You may put your acceptance to medical school and residency training programs at risk. Many pre-medical students believe that the more in-depth clinical experience they have, the stronger their applications will be. However, taking on tasks that are beyond your training could make you look unethical, unknowledgeable about the health professions, irresponsible to admission committees, and may diminish or eliminate your chance for acceptance into medical school. Similarly, medical students who perform procedures beyond their training may negatively impact their chances of matching in residency programs.