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Patient Interaction

Examples of places to find patient interaction:

  • The UM Career Center keeps an excellent list of local hospitals, clinics and organizations that might provide the opportunity for interacting with patients. This includes key places like the University of Michigan Health System.
  • The Newnan Center Pre-health Information CTools site will occasionally post volunteer and paid positions involving patient interaction.  If you’re not on it and would like to be, send a message requesting access to jazzie@umich.edu.
  • Some LSA courses provide the opportunity to earn credit while volunteering in clinical settings.  Check out SOC 225 (sections in the .200’s) and PSYCH 211 (section .004).
  • One-on-one caregiving, such as with someone who is homebound.
  • Paid employment that involves patient interaction is a perfectly legitimate way to learn more.  Some common options:
    • EMT training: Huron Valley Ambulance is a good local resource for this, but any qualified EMS education program will work.  Training costs money, so explore the job market before committing to this!
    • Medical Scribe: there are a number of local companies that now employ students.
    • Working as a Certified Nurses Aide in clinics or nursing homes.
    • Doula work can be rewarding for those interested in women’s health.
    • Some student organizations provide access to phlebotomy training, which can lead to employment.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Keep a journal.
  • Check with a pre-health advisor or your target programs’ websites to make sure you understand what they’re looking for.  For example:
    • Physician assistant programs typically require hundreds or thousands of hours of actual clinical experience (for example as a Certified Nurse’s Aide, an EMT, or a Phlebotomist).
    • Nursing programs value caregiving experience.
    • Genetic counseling programs are particularly interested in seeing that you have some experience in understanding the perspectives of others and advocating for their needs.
    • Veterinary schools like to see a range of experience with both small and large animals.
  • Feel free to focus on those clinical environments, patient populations, and causes that you find most important.  This is not about learning how to do the job; this is about learning who and what you care about and why.
  • Volunteering is a wonderful way to learn.  Challenge yourself to work in environments that can teach you important things about health, illness, and medicine and, therefore, about yourself.   While working in a major hospital like UMHS can teach you amazing things, so can hospice, nursing homes, free clinics, or becoming a doula.
  • Most if not all medical schools value work with medically underserved populations and some emphasize it as part of their primary mission.