Clinical Experience


Clinical experience, or patient care experience, can be a paid or unpaid role in which individuals are interacting with and caring for patients. On this page, we’ll discuss paid clinical experience jobs for pre-health students. For information on unpaid clinical experience as a volunteer, visit the volunteering page.

clinical experience

Often, clinical experience jobs require certification or training prior to being hired. Some students who prefer not to balance their clinical job alongside academics and other extracurricular activities may choose to take a gap year prior to attending health professional school; in this gap year, they would focus on gaining clinical experience.

Most health professional schools (other than PA schools) will not specify a minimum number of clinical hours required for application to the school; however, clinical experience is your way of showing programs that you understand how to care for patients and collaborate on a care team. How do you know how to interact with patients and families and pursue a patient-facing career if you have never worked in a hospital or clinic setting? The overwhelming majority of accepted applicants to health professional schools have clinical experience.

The majority of Physician Assistant programs will require a minimum number of clinical hours; this number varies by program; however, aiming to have at least 500 hours is a great start to furthering your patient care experience.

Types of Clinical Experience Roles

The list below includes some common jobs and positions pre-health students use to gain clinical experience. Positions with an asterisk* are roles which require prior certification/training in most cases.

  • EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)*
  • CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)*
  • Scribe
  • Medical Assistant
  • Plebotomist*
  • Patient Care Technician/Support Technician
  • Respiratory Care Assistant
  • Rehab Aide
  • Pharmacy Technician*
  • Behavior Technician*
  • Patient Transporter

Requirements for each of these positions differ based on the institution. Academic and community hospitals will usually have more strict certification and training requirements, while private clinics may be more lenient in this area.