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The Importance of Gaining Clinical Experience

We often get told that we need clinical experience for medical school, but what is clinical experience and why is it so important? Clinical experience is a supervised learning experience in a clinical setting where a student can provide or observe direct patient care. It is a very important aspect of the medical school application because it shows admissions committees that you are actively showing interest in the medical field. Along with that, it also allows you to see if the various interests in the medical field align with your own interests. For example, if you work as a medical assistant in a Family Medicine office, you not only improve the skills and knowledge you will need in the medical field, but it can also give you a sense of where your interests lie.

I worked as both a Medical scribe and Pharmacy Technician before attending medical school. Working as a medical scribe gave me an excellent understanding of writing a patient chart and the different elements in the patient's history of present illness (HPI). It also gave me a general understanding of common symptoms of various diseases and the purpose of performing different physical exams. These aspects are very important as a medical student because you will be expected to know how to chart when you enter your clinical years. Working as a Pharmacy Technician gave me a basic understanding of drug names and purposes as well as mechanisms of action. This prior knowledge has been very helpful in my first year because many of the questions on my exams ask about the purposes of drugs and what they are used for. In summary, your clinical experience can go a long way in your medical school courses!

Below are some great ways to gain clinical experience:

  • Medical scribe

  • Pharmacy Technician

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Medical assistant

  • Patient Care Assistant

  • Hospital volunteering

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