Volunteer and Service Opportunities

We strongly encourage you to seek out clinical experience so you can learn more about the profession you are choosing. Health professions schools expect applicants to be motivated enough to spend time in health care delivery settings.

Where to Get Experience

Almost all hospitals, and many other health facilities, have a volunteer office. You can also perform broader community service work to develop the important qualities of compassion, interpersonal communications skills, cultural competence, and humility that will serve you well as a health care provider.

Do not confuse shadowing with volunteer or service work. It is very reasonable to shadow physicians or dentists or other providers who can share their experiences with you, and you can get a view of their work life. Try the Tufts Career Networking Group as one way to make contacts. But shadowing does not allow you to do something directly for patients or others in need.

International Volunteer Opportunities

While there are ample opportunities in the United States to interact with patients, be involved in broad healthcare delivery issues, and learn to understand the inequities in health care delivery, many students seek global health opportunities as part of their preparation for future health professions studies. The most helpful experiences are ones that you engage in over a length of time rather than a week or two. They should be well structured and supervised and allow you to do those things for which you are trained and qualified.

There are legal, practical and ethical considerations when you choose an international health experience. Growing concern about some of these global health programs and “voluntourism” has prompted two prominent associations to develop guidelines for premedical and predental students. Please review these before embarking on an international health experience. And be  honest with yourself about your motivations and about how a program may impact the people it is supposed to be helping.