Shadowing & Clinical Experience

Clinical experience gives you a first-hand look into the daily life of a physician. It often involves:

Clinical experience is important because medicals schools want to be confident that:

Medical schools evaluate your clinical experience by:

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Obtaining clinical experience

Clinical experience can be obtained through volunteer service or shadowing.

Other ways of engaging in these types of experiences include:



Below, you'll find a list of opportunities in which Northwestern students have previously participated. Although you are not limited to these experiences or locations, this is a great starting point to help you gain a broader perspective of the types of opportunities that are available to you.

For the most recently posted opportunities, be sure to check out our Events and Opportunities.

Shadowing programs

Community organizations

Local hospitals and clinics

Funding and internship-related information


If you still have questions, feel free to drop in or contact us with questions.

I volunteered at a hospital during high school: is that enough experience?

While high school experiences are useful, additional experiences during college will be most valuable for medical schools to assess. They want to see what experiences you engaged in as an adult. Post-secondary (beyond high school) experiences will demonstrate that you can manage a rigorous academic schedule and still have a life outside of school.

Should I just do shadowing or a combination of shadowing and volunteering?

Ideally, students should have a combination of shadowing and volunteering.  Shadowing is usually short term but a student is able to see many different facets of medicine through different shadowing experiences. Volunteering allows students to demonstrate a commitment to service over time. It's usually a more active experience than shadowing, which tends to be more observation.

How do I find out about volunteer, clinical, and shadowing summer opportunities?

Many opportunities in which students engage during the year (e.g. volunteering at a clinic or hospital) can be continued during the summer months. You can also check out our Summer Programs section. We also encourage students to sign-up for our Events and Opportunities email, which highlights pre-med/pre-health events, opportunities and information.

Is volunteering in a non-healthcare setting valued?

Volunteering in any community service setting can demonstrate personal qualities that are valued in the health professions, such as:

Further, many medical schools prefer to see that applicants have engaged in both medical AND non-medical volunteer experiences.