Nursing schools do not require that you obtain clinical experience before applying, but in order to strengthen your application and ensure your interest in the field, it is a good idea to consider seeking out experiences, medical or not. Aim for experiences that enable you to develop and demonstrate the qualities and skills valued by nursing schools such as accountability, respect, altruism, integrity, autonomy, concern for social justice, and the ability to care for people from diverse backgrounds. The following information elaborates further on volunteering, shadowing, and clinical experiences that you may consider obtaining.


Serving the community shows that an individual values helping others. Service can be done in your hometown, at Hamilton, and/or in the surrounding area of Oneida County. Graduate schools look for students who volunteer in service to their communities even if unrelated to healthcare. The Community Outreach and Opportunity Project (COOP) houses many opportunities for students interested in service and can be found on the third floor of the chapel. The COOP oversees a variety of opportunities and organizations such as the Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach, and Charity (HAVOC), A Better Chance (ABC) Tutoring, Hamilton Reads and many more. For more information, visit the COOP website. Additionally, the majority of these programs will send out all-campus emails at the beginning of each semester regarding descriptions of upcoming volunteer opportunities and instructions on how to become involved. 

Volunteering in a hospital or other medical setting is a great first experience on the track to gain clinical hours. Possible places to volunteer in your community include hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, free clinics, emergency health facilities, hospice programs, psychiatric emergency centers, and camps for children and young adults with health issues and/or special needs.

Most hospitals and healthcare organizations have volunteer programs that can be found on their website. Often hospitals have minimum volunteer requirements and all will require medical clearances, which will take several weeks to complete; it is important that you seek out these opportunities early (winter or early spring before the end of second semester) because you will need to submit paper work. There may also be a mandatory orientation, so make sure to check dates.

A way to open the door for yourself is to simply walk in or call a local hospital, emergency care center, or clinic and ask the front desk staff if there are any opportunities for volunteering available at their facility. Volunteering is also a great way to build connections that may help you seek out more clinical experiences.

Students interested in volunteering at Utica Hospitals or area clinics should check Handshake for more information. Note that some hospitals require a weekly commitment.


You may want to consider shadowing nurses, doctors, and, nurse practitioners, or PAs in order to familiarize yourself with the day-to-day tasks and encounters that nurses and other healthcare providers take on and whether or not this profession is truly for you. Shadowing is also crucial for showing that you actually have a detailed understanding of what the responsibilities of a nurse to admissions committees as well as building a network and beginning your learning experience with medicine.

Clinical Experience

Note: Requirements/training for clinical experiences vary state-to-state or hospital-to-hospital. Coursework and/or training may be offered at community colleges, American Red Cross, EMT training facilities, and the like. The following experience options are general recommendations. Some opportunities listed below are more appropriate for summertime and post-graduate work. Be sure to do your research well in advance to applying.

Emergency Services

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • An emergency medical technician (EMT) is a first responder certified to provide basic emergency services before and during transportation to a hospital, typically working in an ambulance. 
  • In order to become certified, you must complete an EMT basic training program (range from 3-24 weeks) as well as pass practical and written examinations administered by the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) or a state licensing authority.
  • Students at Hamilton may apply to volunteer as EMTS on campus through Hamilton College Emergency Medical Services (HCEMS). To do this, you must attend an information session in the fall, submit an application, and then participate in a group interview in the spring. Selected students will be expected to take an EMT courses over the summer months. This commitment to HCEMS may require a student to adjust their plans to study abroad depending on when they start their work as an EMT. 
  • Alternatively, students who wish to volunteer as an EMT off campus may apply to work at local ambulance agencies throughout the county such as Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps located in Clinton.
Student First Responder in Hamilton’s Sports Medicine Program
  • A student first responder assists Hamilton’s Athletic Trainers in caring for students with sports injuries as well as applying injury-preventing devices such as tape, splints, or braces on athletes.
  • If interested, students may discuss this opportunity with Stephanie Kowell, who works in the Sports Medicine clinic in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House. 
Emergency Room Technician
  • An Emergency Room (ER) Technician works under the direction of a registered nurse and takes part in assessing, transporting, and communicating to patients as well as performing other duties dependent on their certifications.
  • An EMT certification is required in order to work as an ER Technician. 

Healthcare Facility Services

Clinical Research Coordinator
  • A clinical research coordinator assists in the coordination and execution of clinical research trials performed in hospitals, labs, or other healthcare facilities.
  • Students may search for job opportunities on the web sites of hospitals and/or medical centers of interest to them. Winter break can be a good time to research opportunities of interest since applications tend to be submitted three months prior to the start date.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
  • A Certified Nursing Assistant provides patient care under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Tasks include monitoring vital signs, updating documentation, as well as helping patients with daily activities such as bathing, feeding, and getting dressed.
  • CNAs may work in hospitals, nursing home facilities, and/or long-term care homes.
  • In order to become a CNA, a student must complete a certification program (ranging from 6-12 weeks) that may be offered at some community colleges and medical facilities.
Medical/Clinical Assistant
  • A medical assistant provides support to other healthcare professionals by assisting in administrative duties such as updating patient records, scheduling appointments, and answering telephones or clinical duties such as taking medical histories, handling lab specimens, and drawing blood.
  • A Medical/Clinical Assistant training course may be required (may take 18 months-2 years), so it is important to check the job listing pages on hospital and healthcare facility websites to see their qualifications for this job.
  • A phlebotomist is a trained professional who draws blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations. 
  • A phlebotomist works in both hospital and lab settings and this position may require an accreditation course (typically 12 weeks). 
Medical Scribe/Clinical Information Manager
  • A medical scribe operates as an assistant to the physician. They stay up-to-date with patient documentation and keep the physician informed regarding changes in the patient’s personal information. Further accreditation beyond a college education is not typically required in order to apply for medical scribe positions.


  • Students can also get hands-on clinical experience by working at a summer camp for children and young adults with health issues and/or special needs.
  • The American Camp Association contains a database where students can search for camps based on specific disabilities/health issues in addition to geographic location.


Contact Name

Courtney Hance

Director of Health Professions Advising

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