How Many Clinical Hours are Required for Medical Schools?

November 22

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Taking up medicine entails hard work and endurance, so most medical schools are meticulous with their admission process, and only deserving applicants are accepted. 

As a result, most medical schools highly recommend their applicants have significant clinical experience and acquire the recommended clinical hours to back up their application. 

Medical schools want to know that their applicants are fully equipped and know how demanding it is to have a medical career and the pressure that comes while still studying for it. 

There are many opportunities that you can choose from for your clinical experience. However, it can be confusing for premed students to decide what clinical experiences to have and how many clinical hours one should earn. 

Many premed students want to know how to prepare themselves and focus on building their extracurricular activities for medical school. 

To know more about clinical experience and how many hours you should get. This article will guide and help you understand more about clinical experience and hours and how you can acquire clinical hours for your medical school admission. 

What are Clinical Hours, and How Do They Benefit You?

Clinical hours are the time spent by premed students in their clinical experience.

Also, clinical experience is an extracurricular activity that allows premed students to get exposure and better understand how medical professionals work in different clinical settings. 

And also, these experiences usually involve direct patient interaction in various medical settings. Most medical schools recommend that applicants gain clinical experience before applying. 

In addition, it is crucial for premed students to have first-hand experience with what it is like working as a medical professional and to enhance one's clinical skills and knowledge. 

Clinical experience can be paid or unpaid. It involves different opportunities in the medical field, such as being a hospice volunteer, caretaker, volunteer EMT, medical scribe, hotline medical counseling, joining service/research projects, and many more. 

Also, clinical experience is among the most important extracurricular activities premed students take for medical school to help them boost their application.

It is highly beneficial for aspiring medical students as it will allow them to experience how to work in the medical field. A

lso, the experience can help premed students decide whether pursuing a medical career suits them. 

Here are some benefits of Clinical Experience/Hours:

Boosts Your Medical School Application

The competition for medical school is very tight, mainly if you apply to prominent medical schools in the country, such as Harvard Medical School. For example, for 2022, the medical school had 6,914 applicants, with only 3.3% of the applicants admitted

In addition, the University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine admission rate is around 3.8%, and the medical school is known to be highly selective with its applicants. 

Also, has 6,346 applicants for the academic year of 2023, and only 149 applicants were accepted. 

Given these medical schools' acceptance rates and high competition, providing an outstanding and highly competitive application is essential. 

Immersing yourself in the different medical fields through your clinical experience is a great way to show the medical school you are applying to about your interest in medicine. 

Your clinical experiences in your medical school application will reflect your intention as an aspiring medical student and impress the admission committee. Thus, giving you a fair chance to be accepted into the program. 

Build Your Clinical Knowledge and Skills

A clinical experience will provide an extensive learning experience of how medical professionals work in their respective specializations. Through these experiences, you will build your clinical knowledge and skills and gain essential competencies in taking up medicine. 

It includes the following skills such as communication, observation, analysis, collaboration, ethical knowledge, and many more. These clinical skills are important in interacting with patients and diagnosing them. 

Working with different medical professionals will hone your social skills as well and help you prepare for the challenges of pursuing a medical degree. You will also learn how doctors apply medical theories in real-life situations. 

Also, it will allow you to have easy adjustments from the different working setups of physicians and other medical professionals. The essential knowledge and skills you gain from these clinical experiences are excellent building blocks for your medical education.

Finding Valuable Mentors

It is not only improving your clinical skills and knowledge that you can gain from your clinical experiences, but also you can find valuable mentors that can guide you throughout your medical degree. 

It is an advantage to work alongside medical professionals because they serve as your role models and mentors. Also, these medical professionals will give you valuable insights regarding the challenges of studying medicine and, more importantly, having a medical career. 

Medical doctors and other professionals working in the medical field are very eager to share their learnings and mentor junior medical students and especially with those premeds who are doing their clinical experiences. 

Helps You Collect Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation are one of the admission requirements when applying to medical school. It is a written document by any medical professional that supports the application of an aspiring medical student. 

In addition, many medical schools require a minimum of two or more letters of recommendation from their applicants. And by having your clinical experience under different medical specialists, you have a wide range of resource persons for your letters of recommendation. 

You can ask physicians or any medical professionals you are working with during your clinical experience to vouch for you on your dedication to pursuing medicine. Also, you can ask them to showcase your skills and knowledge essential for a medical degree. 

How to Gain Clinical Experience for Medical School?

Having clinical experience before entering medical school helps you stand out among other applicants, thus giving you a high chance of getting accepted. 

Investing your time and effort in your clinical experience makes a lasting impression on the admission committee of your dedication to this profession. 

It is crucial to prioritize your clinical experiences as it will also help you get exposure to the highlights and challenges of pursuing a medical career. And these clinical experiences will give you a better view and understanding of your future if you study medicine. 

The goal here is for you to have significant exposure to the inner workings of medical professionals and, of course, most notably, patient care. These experiences are also expected to give you better judgment on whether it is worthwhile on your end to enter medical school. 

Here are some of the ways to gain clinical experience. 


It is one of the opportunities that you can take to gain clinical experience. Shadowing is literally following the daily routine of a physician. 

Through this clinical experience, you will see how a physician handles each patient and other medical operations depending on one’s specialization. 

Also, shadowing different types of physicians with different specializations for your clinical experience is good. You will be exposed to the various facets of medicine. And it gives you an excellent experience that will be helpful for you to consider pursuing a specific medical specialization or another. 


Volunteering is one of the clinical experiences that you can do as a premed student. Also, volunteering can be done in various medical settings. You may volunteer in local hospitals, community health services, health clinics, nursing homes, and more. 

This clinical experience is an excellent way to explore the ins and outs of medicine. Plus, you will learn more about dealing with diverse patients. 

Moreover, volunteering will also help you develop your social and clinical skills and knowledge. Also, you will be exposed to the realities of the different medical settings and give you first-hand experience in patient care. 

Most admission committees in medical schools highly value clinical experiences such as volunteering, as it will give them the impression of your willingness to learn more about the profession before entering medical school. 

Also, you can create significant connections with medical professionals and build lasting relationships with them as your mentor and role models in the field. 

Paid Experiences

Paid clinical experiences include working as emergency room technicians, pharmacy technicians, phlebotomists, licensed practical nurses, dialysis technicians, emergency medical technicians, emergency room scribes, paramedics, and more. 

Some of these paid clinical experiences require specific training and certification before you can apply for these kinds of positions in the medical field. Also, paid experiences can help you develop essential skills and knowledge in patient care. 

Paid clinical experiences also give premed students excellent practical opportunities, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in working in different clinical setups.

How Many Clinical Hours Are Required for Medical School?

Gaining at least 100 to 150 hours of clinical experience covering different medical specializations is best. It is the recommended number of clinical hours for medical school applications. 

However, this number of clinical hours is highly accepted by most institutions as it implies that the applicant has spent a significant number of hours in one’s clinical experience. And has gained valuable insight and learning throughout this duration.

It is still best to aim for around 100 clinical hours instead of a lower number for you to have a competitive application. 

Remember that admission to medical school is very tight, so you should also give it your best shot. 

Note that there is no standardized or minimum requirement for how many clinical hours a premed student should acquire. It depends on the medical school’s admission requirement and varies between medical schools.

Consider first the clinical hours required by your desired institution. Some medical schools will require a specific number of clinical hours, such as Harvard Medical School, wherein they suggest their premed applicants aim for 40 to 50 clinical hours

While in the Perelman School of Medicine, 97% of its applicants have research experience, and 83% of accepted applicants have shadowing and clinical research experiences. 

Based on availability, you can compare the medical school’s required clinical hours and how many you can acquire. 

Other medical schools do not require a specific number of clinical hours so long as the applicants have provided valuable clinical hours in one’s extracurricular activities.

3 Steps to Maximize Your Clinical Experience

Here are some guidelines to help you maximize your clinical experience and help you find the ones that are appropriate for you. 

Do Your Research 

There are many clinical opportunities available to help you gain your clinical hours. But before jumping on the first opportunity, you must research. It will help you prepare for what to expect if you do shadowing, volunteer, or work as an EMT. 

Also, it is best to compare the different clinical opportunities based on their work setup and the type of work you should do. Doing so lets you know if you can meet the qualifications, handle the daily challenges, and consider if it fits your desired schedule. 

Remember that gaining clinical hours is not just meeting the medical school’s admission requirement but also where you need to check what kind of career in medicine you want. List the possible type of clinical work that interests you, and you can start from there. 

Analyze Your Choices

Choose the one that piques your interest, or pick the clinical opportunity you are most drawn to experience in real life. 

There are many medical specializations that you may find interesting after doing your research, and you may need clarification about what to pick. Still, staying close to what triggers your curiosity would be best. 

Be realistic with your goals and choices when picking the right clinical opportunity. It should fit your present skills and knowledge and help you master them in the long run. 

It is a waste of your resources, such as time and effort, if you get a clinical experience wherein you did not meet the qualifications. 

You will have a hard time, and you will be stressed instead of enjoying the clinical experience. And it will give you a bad experience, and you may end up backing off from taking medicine. 

The primary purpose of having clinical hours is to have a first-hand learning experience and hone your clinical skills, which are essential in studying for a medical degree. Finally, choose the best clinical opportunity that will help you grow professionally. 

Find Balance

Working for your clinical hours should not be a burden on your part. Find balance and enjoy while learning. Look at the bright side of seeing how medical professionals work in real-time and put yourself in their shoes. 

Balancing your career and other aspects of your life is hard, primarily if you work in the medical field. Through your clinical experiences, you will know how challenging it is to be a doctor and handle diverse patients. 

That is why you must gain valuable clinical hours and see the life of being a doctor before taking a medical degree. Also, take this opportunity as a stepping stone to help you prepare for your future. And as much as possible, be open to different learnings about the career through your clinical experience. 

Are you up for the challenge? 

Can you handle all the stress that comes with it? 

Can you balance everything in your life while taking medicine? 

Note that this is what medical schools also look into if you have the dedication and passion for serving and saving lives and the commitment to the profession.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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