Health Professions Experience

Experience in the field of healthcare you are pursuing is essential. We recommend that our students complete volunteer, community service, shadowing, and/or research experiences in healthcare. There are many opportunities for volunteer work at Penn and in Philadelphia; it is up to you to choose where you would like to spend your volunteer time, and with what kinds of patients and healthcare issues. We provide a list of contacts, volunteer programs, and current research postings. Make time for volunteering: you will enjoy it, you will do something for others, and medical, dental, and veterinary schools expect that you will have tested out your career interest in the "real world" of healthcare delivery prior to applying.

Volunteer opportunities

The richness of Philadelphia's medical facilities affords wonderful opportunities for involvement and engagement in healthcare delivery. The University of Pennsylvania Health System and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, both within walking distance from our classrooms and labs, provide ideal settings for gaining hands-on experience with patients and for observing the contributions of each member of a healthcare team.

Volunteer placements are offered in many different areas of the University Hospital: labor and delivery, the operating room, the emergency room, the nursing floors, and the Cancer Center. At Children's Hospital, students can choose among volunteer options in the Child Life Department, radiology, pathology, the day surgery unit, the nursing floors, the admissions office, and the emergency room. Our students also volunteer at other Philadelphia hospitals and in special interest areas of clinical care, notably in women's health and HIV disease and prevention work.

Explore the local and national organizations that students have completed volunteer projects with while studying in the Pre-Health Programs.

Veterinary volunteer opportunities

The Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine offers opportunities for pre-veterinary students to gain experience working with animals and veterinary professionals. The large animal hospital at the New Bolton Center provides yet another kind of volunteer experience. 

Research opportunities

As a world-class research institution, the University of Pennsylvania provides a multitude of opportunities for students who would like to engage in the biomedical research process. While research experience is not a required component of application to all health professions schools, many students are eager to gain new, firsthand experience or build on their undergraduate research involvements. Volunteer and paid positions are available, and the interested, energetic student can find ways to contribute to the University's research mission.

 Application Overview

Ready to apply?

See Pre-Health Programs application deadlines, review our application materials checklist, and get ready to apply.

Your personal advisor

A member of the Pre-Health Programs team will assist in your personal and career development, through course selection, application preparation and interviewing.

Student & alumni stories

"I still reach out to my advisors for advice on my medical school applications. They always tell me that I have their support as long as I need it."
- Dominique Alexis, Pre-Health Specialized Studies ’17