Clinical Experience Tips

Whether your goal is medical school or dental school, clinical experience during your undergraduate career is a must. Here are some common ways to gain it at SUNY Cortland.


Most hospitals house a Volunteer Department that students can contact to gain experience with patients. It may only be in patient transport or calling patients to review their hospital experience, but any contact with patients is beneficial.

Additionally, nursing homes and hospice centers need volunteers for a variety of tasks. Many volunteer opportunities also exist at important healthcare organizations such as rape/suicide crisis centers, HIV/AIDS resource clinics or Planned Parenthood.

One of the most common locations for our students to volunteer is the Cortland Medical Center. For more information, contact Jarrod Kolodziejczyk, the hospital’s director of volunteer services.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

SUNY Cortland boasts a close-knit, award-winning Emergency Medical Services (EMS) student group that provides quality emergency care service 24 hours per day, seven days per week on campus.

The function of the squad has grown into a first response unit, as well as an organization which educates the campus community. The College also financially supports students in taking training courses such as the EMT basic course, which allows students to administer basic life saving techniques on a patient.

Learn more about EMS on its campus group page.

Observe in a Dental Office/Clinic

Pre-dental students can find volunteer opportunities to work locally at community health clinics, local schools or even globally to promote oral care in underserved populations.

A full list of opportunities and community health centers can be found on the American Dental Association website.

Shadow a Medical Doctor

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers many tips on setting up a shadowing experience with a doctor, including how to find one, how to ask them and even what you should wear.

Members of SUNY Cortland’s Pre-Medical Advisory Committee can offer their expertise if you are interested in a shadowing experience.

Study Abroad

SUNY Cortland students can participate in a special study abroad trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico during winter break designed to expose pre-health professionals to healthcare in a developing country.

Students develop Spanish language skills to be effective healthcare providers, observe medicine in a variety of clinical settings and gain cross-cultural experiences that will add to their cultural competence.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A CNA works under the direction of a nurse, assisting in basic tasks such as obtaining vital signs and weight/height measurements as well as bathing and dressing people who cannot do these tasks alone. Generally, a CNA is required to complete a 75-hour training course and pass an assessment exam.


Phlebotomists are the technicians that draw blood for laboratory analysis. They need to know everything about blood collection, including handling of needles, tubes, bags and related equipment, as well as the regulations associated with blood collection. A phlebotomy technician course is required, along with passing a national certification exam. Phlebotomy gives students a flexible, paid position to gain patient contact hours. 


In this role, you follow Emergency Room clinicians around during clinical encounters and document medical history and physical exams in the electronic medical record. Scribing allows you to observe the patient-doctor interaction, learn medical terms and documentation skills and develop an understanding of challenges in healthcare.

Hospitals usually work with scribe companies that train and match students with area hospitals. Scribe America is a company that places students locally. Many require a yearlong commitment, which means that you will work part-time during the semester.


Christian Nelson
Pre-Medical/Dental Advisor
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Bowers Hall, Room 1314

Advisory Committee

Jacqueline Augustine, Kinesiology
Christa ChatfieldBiological Sciences
Theresa Curtis, Biological Sciences

Katherine Hicks, Chemistry

Christian NelsonBiological Sciences
Frank Rossi, Chemistry
Jacob Wright, Career Services

Contact us

Admissions Office
Phone: 607-753-4711

Biological Sciences Department
Phone: 607-753-2715

Chemistry Department
Phone: 607-753-4323

Psychology Department
Phone: 607-753-4218