Ideally Charlotte, you should have a combination of shadowing and volunteering. Shadowing is usually short term but you'll able to see many different facets of medicine through different shadowing experiences. Volunteering allows you to demonstrate a commitment to service over time. It's usually a more active experience than shadowing, which tends to be more observation.
VOLUNTEERING AND SHADOWING
Remember to begin looking for clinical experience early. Some locations have wait-lists or extensive volunteer application/training processes, and it may take some time before you're able to begin your clinical experience. As you're contacting doctors to shadow or sites for potential clinical experience, be sure to let them know you're a pre-med/pre-health student, and explain why this experience will be important/relevant to you.
1.) ASK ANYONE AND EVERYONE – Most professionals are open to having students shadow them, probably because they remember what it was like trying to get a job shadowing experience. Be brave and ask!
• Ask your School Nurse
• Ask your Own Doctor
2.) ASK EARLY – Hospital policies regarding student observers vary and are usually buried on a deep, secret link on their website that you will never find on your own. Some will require a TB skin test, orientation, and background check, while others will allow you to simply walk right in. You will need to plan accordingly to determine how much leg work you’re going to have to do before you can start shadowing.
3.) DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Keep track of dates and hours, you'll likely be asked to supply that information, along with a contact person and phone number or email address for each experience you list on your application. Keep a journal about your experiences. The journal will not only help you in your decision-making process, it will help generate material for your personal statement and secondary application questions.
4.) SAY THANK YOU – Whether your experience with a particular provider was the best you’ve ever had or the worst, the nurse practitioner or other professional has taken time out of their day to host you, answer your questions, and teach you. A handshake at the end of the day is expected, but a well-written thank you card is the best way to show how grateful you are.
Hope this was Helpful Charlotte