Pathways to Healthcare: Getting Experience 

Pathways to Healthcare: Getting Experience
Gaining experience is a significant part of career exploration. Exposure to a variety of roles in healthcare is an important aspect in learning about and exploring career paths that may interest you. Meaningful experiences working with patients or in a healthcare environment are not only beneficial in helping you to solidify your choice to pursue a career in healthcare, but they also make you a stronger and more knowledgeable candidate as you apply to graduate school or begin your job search.  Most healthcare careers and post-graduate healthcare programs put a great deal of emphasis on a candidate’s hands-on experience.  Read below for ways in which to connect with mentors, gain industry experience, and build your healthcare skillset.

Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are conversations with professionals about their job, organization, or industry. Developing a network of mentors can be incredibly beneficial as they can serve as important guides through your academic and professional journey. 

  • Informational Interview GuideA tip sheet of how to successfully conduct an informational interview.
  • Husky Mentor Network: An online database of UConn alumni interested in connecting with current students for one-on-one career conversations, including discussing choosing a major, résumé critiques, practice interviews, and more.
  • LinkedIn: A professional social media site to connect with professionals, companies, or alumni.

 Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is an excellent way to explore and develop a deeper understanding of fields that are of interest to you. Shadowing, or following a healthcare professional, can provide you with a realistic view of what various specialties and working environments are really like.

  • Job Shadowing GuideA tip sheet of how to successfully conduct a job shadowing experience.
  • Medical Shadowing Guide: A tip sheet about how to find shadowing opportunities and what to expect when shadowing a medical professional 
  • uConntactUConn’s student organization database to find student organizations that host job shadow opportunities. 
  • Pre-Med/Pre-Dental Advising Center Shadowing GuideA guide that provides tips and resources on how to find a medical professional to shadow. 
  • Shadowing a DoctorThis FAQ from the American Association of Medical Colleges answers a lot of common questions about how to shadow a doctor. 
  • HEAL Clinical Education NetworkThis organization offers free weekly virtual shadowing sessions via Zoom, seminar courses, and homework assignments that students can complete for a certificate of completion. Content is geared towards medical school, PA school, and nursing school. 
  • Pre-Health Shadowing: This organization, created by pre-health students for pre-health students, offers live and recorded shadowing opportunities. 
  • Medical School HQ eShadowing:  This eshadowing opportunity hosts weekly pre-med and pre-PA virtual shadowing sessions for free. After each session, students can take a quiz and get a certificate to prove their participation.
  • Husky Mentor Network: An online database of UConn alumni interested in connecting with current students for one-on-one career conversations, including discussing choosing a major, résumé critiques, practice interviews, and more.
  • LinkedIn: A professional social media site to connect with professionals, companies, or alumni.

Clinical Opportunities
A clinical experience often involves real-life scenarios with patients and requires students to be ready for hands-on interaction alongside their co-workers. These opportunities offer professional experience in a variety of areas. In order to be placed in one of the competitive clinical experiences, you must be a part of a select group of UConn majors (please see the first link below to see the majors list). If you are registered as one of these majors you must also meet all academic standards, pass all background and drug screening requirements, and complete health/immunization compliance requirements. 

Internships and Research Opportunities
Internships give you the chance to demonstrate what you’ve learned as a student and gain enough hands-on experience to be competitive in the job market. These experiences may be paid, or unpaid positions, and students can typically be expected to perform specific hands-on tasks within their field of interest. Meaningful experience in a lab or research facility provides an in-depth, hands-on experience that exposes you to different research processes.

Roles like an EMT, CNA, scribe, or home health aide are great ways to build up your healthcare resume; as an undergraduate, these jobs will give you greater interaction with patients and medical exposure. 

  • UConn Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) CourseUConn offers an EMT certification course to students during the fall and spring semesters. Find out more about the course, including when it is offered, in the UConn course catalog. 
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in CTThis link to the CT Department of Public Health Training and Competency Evaluation Program Guidelines provides information about what it takes to become a CNA in Connecticut.
  • Medical ScribingThis website allows you to learn more about what a Medical Scribe does and what training is required.
  • Home Health Aide This website allows you to learn more about what a Home Health Aide does and how to become one.

Gap Year/Growth Year Opportunities 
A gap year, sometimes known as an enrichment or growth year, is typically a planned hiatus taken by a student after attending college, prior to joining a graduate program, or just before an official entry into the world of full-time work.  Students use this time to engage in any number of activities intended to support personal or academic aspirations.  Often the experiences that occur during a gap year are thoughtfully designed with an emphasis on individual growth and self-discovery

  • USA Gap Year FairsConnect with gap year program providers, counselors, alumni, and college admissions representatives at our virtual events to learn everything you need to know about taking a gap year.
  • United PlanetUnited Planet is a non-profit organization with a mission to create a global community. They connect volunteers who want to make a difference with communities in more than 30 countries.
  • The “jobs” section above detailing  Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in CTMedical Scribing, Home Health Aide, and Emergency Medical Technician opportunities are also great growth year options. 

Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and gain hands-on experience in healthcare.

  • Hospital Volunteering Guide: A list of links to hospital volunteering opportunities developed by the Pre-Med office.
  • UConn Office of Community OutreachThis office prepares students to be active global citizens by engaging them in service activities. Click to find out more about their one-time and regular service programs or volunteer and work opportunities in local human services agencies and schools.
  • The National Association of Free and Charitable ClinicsFree and Charitable Clinics and Charitable Pharmacies rely on volunteers to be able to provide the needed health care to the medically underserved people in their communities.
  • A website that focuses on connecting people with opportunities for action and collaboration all over the world.
  • Connect with your local hospitals, clinics, and nonprofit organizations to learn more about their volunteer opportunities.

Want to learn more?

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash
By Caitlin Cincotta
Caitlin Cincotta