Pre-health students seeking clinical experiences with direct patient care are encouraged to consider the following opportunities. Many of these are most appropriate for a growth year or summer break, as they often require a considerable time commitment. 


CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant

  • Job Description: Certified nursing assistants help perform critical tasks that ensure patients are well-cared for and safe during their hospital stay. Checking vital signs, keeping patients clean, and other duties like this are extremely important for patient care and satisfaction. Nursing homes and adult care facilities are often the most common places where nursing assistants are needed. 
  • Required Training: CNA educational requirements vary by state, but often include a state-approved training program. This can be offered at a high school, community college, vocational school, or hospital. CNA classes are typically 4-8 weeks long and detail how to care for patients, basic medical skills, and important ethical and moral understanding. There may be in-person or hands-on skill elements to help students be prepared for actually working with patients as well. 

EMT: Emergency Medicine Technician

  • Job Description: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) take care of patients at the entry-level. If there has been a medical or traumatic emergency, then EMTs are generally called to provide medical care. As the first care providers, they examine the nature and severity of injuries and transfer the patient in a well-equipped vehicle. 
  • Required Training: Students complete a course that is a minimum of 170 hours in length (3 months on average if completing a training program full-time). EMTs are educated in assessing a patient and determining if any life threatening injuries or illnesses may be present. In general, to be eligible for enrollment into an EMT course you do not need to have any previous medical experience. The eligibility requirements and prerequisites for EMT courses may vary from school to school. 


  • Job Description: Paramedics are skilled, pre-hospital service providers. They are licensed healthcare professionals and can provide advanced life support to patients before they reach a hospital. Providing care on par with that of an emergency medical room, they are better trained than EMTs at treating acute illnesses and injuries. They have extensive knowledge on subjects such as physiology, cardiology, medical procedures, and medication.
  • Required Training: Students complete a program between 1,200 to 1,800 hours and may last six to twelve months. Paramedic courses build on EMT education and teach skills such as administering medications, starting intravenous lines, providing advanced airway management, EKG Interpretation for patients, and learning to provide emergency care to patients with  life-threatening medical or traumatic emergencies. To be eligible for a paramedic course you must be an EMT and generally have at least 6 months of work experience as an EMT. 

Medical Assistant

  • Job Description: Medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics.
  • Required Training: Medical Assistant programs range in duration from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the certificate or diploma you are earning.

Clinic Assistant

  • Job Description: As a clinical assistant, you may perform various duties, including scheduling appointments, processing bills, updating medical records, greeting patients, preparing patients for physical exams, in short, ensuring the smooth running of the front desk or reception of a medical clinic or office. In smaller specialty clinics, assistants may also serve as scribes and technicians.
  • Required Training: Each hiring location has different hiring requirements, but typically a bachelor's degree is required. 


  • Job Description: A Medical Scribe essentially functions as a personal assistant to a physician; performing documentation, gathering information for the patient's visit, and partnering with the physician to deliver efficient patient care.
  • Required Training: Each hiring location has different hiring requirements, but typically a high school diploma or equivalent is required. A college degree, or current enrollment in a degree program is preferred.
  • Please note: Not all professional health programs consider scribing to be clinical hours due to the lack of one-on-one interaction that a scribe has with a patient. 


  • Job Description: Phlebotomists draw and prepare blood for medical testing, transfusions or donation. Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood via venipuncture, finger pricks, or in the case of infants, heel pricks. Phlebotomists typically work in hospitals, clinics, outpatient care facilities, diagnostic laboratories and blood donation centers.
  • Required Training: Many employers require candidates for Phlebotomist positions to hold a non-degree diploma or certificate from an accredited college, university, technical school or vocational school. Phlebotomy programs typically last less than a year (3-8 months on average), and include classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Clinical Research Coordinator

  • Job Description: A clinical research coordinator (CRC) plays an integral role in medical studies of all kinds. They typically work under the direction of the principal investigator (PI), who is in charge of designing, conducting, and managing the clinical trial from a high level. It is the CRC’s job to support, facilitate, and organize daily clinical trial activities.
  • Required Training: CRCs must have at least a four-year bachelor’s degree, often in a field such as medical technology, microbiology, or public health administration. However, some employers require an additional two-year master’s degree, particularly for management positions.

Patient Care Coordinator

  • Job Description: A patient care coordinator's job is to ensure that a medical facility is providing high quality care services. They work with administration, staff, and patients to reach healthcare goals and keep the lines of communication open. Some are registered nurses, but this often is not mandatory. 
  • Required Training: In some facilities, a patient care coordinator is also a registered nurse (RN); however, this is not a requirement at all facilities. Others, will take candidates with an associate's or bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or a related field.

Dialysis Technician

  • Job Description: Sets-up dialysis machines, connects patients to dialysis machines, monitoring treatment then disconnecting them after treatment; cleaning and reprocessing dialyzer, works with chemicals involved in the operation of the dialysis equipment being aware of safety procedures; refers identified problems appropriately, performs other tasks as delegated and communicates with patients, their families, staff and other organizations.
  • Required Training: Education in the science field, prior direct patient care experience, and prior phlebotomy experience preferred. Average length of training for a dialysis technician certification program is 12-18 months. 

Dental Assistant

  • Job Description: Dental assistants provide patient care, take x rays, keep records, and schedule appointments.
  • Required Training: Some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. In other states, there are no formal educational requirements, and dental assistants learn through on-the-job training.

Ophthalmic Assistant

  • Job Description: Generates important preliminary information to be used by the ophthalmologist; reviews patient status and performs medical tests; assists with in-office procedures ensuring proper informed consent is obtained, sets up and cleans up from procedures.
  • Required Training: Formal certification through JCAHPO may be preferred, but for many positions there are no formal educational requirements and ophthalmic assistants learn through on-the-job training. 

Pharmacy Assistant

  • Job Description: Also known as pharmacy clerks or aids, pharmacy assistants perform various administrative and clerical duties within a pharmacy to ensure it runs efficiently. They often work behind the register, whether they're answering phone calls to the pharmacy or arranging for a customer to speak with the pharmacist for their questions or concerns.
  • Required Training: Most states don't require a formal education and instead provide on-the-job training.

Veterinary Assistant

  • Job Description: A veterinary assistant helps veterinarians care for animals and performs some administrative duties at a veterinary clinic.
  • Required Training: While some training occurs on the job, aspiring veterinary assistants have the option of completing a certification or internship to help them develop key skills. 

Birth Doula & Postpartum Doula

  • Job Description: A trained person (usually a woman) who provides physical, emotional and informational support to women and families during and after childbirth.
  • Required Training: Birth doulas and postpartum doulas typically need to complete an officially recognized doula certification program, which takes a minimum of several months on average.

End-of-Life Doula

Home Care Aide