Many PA schools strongly recommend that you shadow Physician Assistants and all require that you complete up to 500-2000 clinical hours (hours vary depending on the school). Be sure to call your schools of interest or search on their websites to find out whether or not they will accept clinical experiences that you plan to take on. You should also find out whether or not they require PA shadowing. It is still a good idea to shadow a PA for your own benefit regardless of whether or not they require it. Lastly, it is recommended that you take part in volunteering, medical or not.


Serving the community shows that an individual values helping others. Graduate schools look for students who volunteer in service to their communities even if unrelated to healthcare. Service can be done in your hometown, at Hamilton, and/or in the surrounding area of Oneida County. The Community Outreach and Opportunity Project (COOP) coordinates 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. 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. For further information regarding service, visit the COOP online or in person (on the second floor of K.J. behind the Levitt Center) to learn about the many avenues in which a Hamilton student can get 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.


It is recommended that you shadow nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, and of course PAs in order to familiarize yourself with the day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and encounters that healthcare providers take on and to determine whether or not the PA profession is truly for you. 

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 others for post-graduate work. Be sure to do your research well in advance of applying.

Emergency Services:

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

  • An EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) is a  first responder trained to respond quickly to medical emergencies, typically working in an ambulance.
  • In order to become certified you must complete an EMT basic training program (typically 3-11 weeks) and you must pass a practical and  written exam administered by NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical  Technicians) or a state licensing authority. Courses can be taken at a community college or EMT training facility.
  • Students at Hamilton can apply to work as EMTs on campus; you must attend an  information session in the fall (watch for email in late October/early November) and then interview during the second semester. Selected students will be expected to take an EMT course over the summer.
  • Alternatively, students can work with local ambulance agencies 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 working in the field of sports medicine, caring for sports injuries as well as applying injury-preventing devices (e.g. ankle tape, braces, etc.) on athletes.
  • To apply, students must stop by the Sports Medicine clinic in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House and talk with Stephanie Kowell.

Emergency Room Technician

  • An ER Technician works in an emergency room setting under the direction of ER nursing staff.
  • EMT basic training is required. Courses can be taken at a community college or EMT training facility (programs range from 3-11 weeks long).

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 can search for opportunities on the web sites of hospitals or medical centers. Winter break can be a good time to research opportunities of interest though applications should be submitted closer to your anticipated start date (e.g. three months in advance).

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • A CNA is licensed to provide basic patient care under supervision of nursing staff (bathe and  dress patients, change linens, move patients).
  • Typically, hospitals require that you attend an accredited CNA training program (may take 1-9 months).

Medical/Clinical Assistant

  • A medical or clinical assistants is an allied health professional who assists providers in their work in a clinical setting
  • Check the job listing pages on hospital and healthcare facility websites to see their qualifications for this job because they vary. A Medical/Clinical Assistant training course may be required (may take 18 months-2 years).

Medical Scribe/Clinical Information Manager

  • A medical scribe is a medical information manager who charts live encounters between patients and  physicians.
  • You may be required to complete training.
  • Some national companies recruit Hamilton students to work part-time shifts at area hospitals; check Handshake for listings. 


  • A phlebotomists is a trained professional who draws blood from patients for blood tests and donations.
  • Most hospitals/labs require that you enroll in an accredited phlebotomy training program (may take 6-16 weeks).

Radiological Technician

  • A radiology technician is trained to perform diagnostic procedures (X-rays, MRIs, CTs).
  • Hospital programs may required that you reached a condition of employment in order to achieve the necessary training.
  • You may be required otherwise to complete a certificate program (may take 6-12 months).


  • 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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