Observation and Career Shadowing

Observation and Career Shadowing

The Observation and Career Shadowing Program is designed to allow college and high school students the opportunity to explore the many career options that exist within the life sciences, in both clinical and research areas, at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. It is not intended for medical student graduates who are seeking a residency program. This program is administered by a program coordinator in each of the departments.

This educational experience is for observation only; no hands-on contact is permitted with any patient.

Who Can Apply

Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and a formally matriculated student at their school, college, or university. Student observers will be assigned to a sponsoring PSHMC/COM employee and remain under the supervision of the sponsoring employee at all times.

How to Apply

Students should download and complete an application packet, and return it to the appropriate department coordinator. See all department coordinators here.

Please be as specific as possible regarding your particular areas of interest; preferred dates and times; faculty and staff you know personally and would like to shadow; or pre-arrangements you have already made with a sponsoring employee.

High school observations are generally limited to four to eight hours.

The required application packet, accessible here, includes:

  • Observation or Career Shadowing Application
  • Application for Visiting Students in Laboratories (required for laboratory settings only)
  • Infectious Disease Summary (required for clinical areas only; see details on how to complete this form here)
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Code of Conduct and Dress
  • Student or Visitor Waiver Liability Form

Please type or write legibly on all forms. Be sure to make a copy for your records. If you need the information in these forms in another format, please contact the Office of Academic Placements at academicplacements@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

Check to make sure your application and accompanying forms have been properly completed. Applications and accompanying forms should be mailed, or scanned and emailed to the department coordinator.

Approval for shadowing takes 4 to 8 weeks. You may check with the department coordinator on the status of your request.

Once all approvals for your application have been granted, the department coordinator will contact you to schedule your shadow date and will instruct you where to report.

Clearances for Participants 18 and Older

Students 18 or older participating in this program for more than five days in pediatric inpatient or outpatient clinics must obtain the following background checks at their own expense:

  • The Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Records Check (PATCH).
    • Cost: $10, payable by credit card
    • If you have no record, you only need to print the "certification" page. You will only receive something in the US mail if a criminal record is found.
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance
    • Cost: $8, payable using a credit/debit card if filing online or by money order if mailing
    • Under "Purpose of Clearance," check "Child Care."
    • If you only know city and state for previous addresses, that is acceptable.
    • For household members, you must include those who are deceased, but do not need to include college roommates, or servicemen in the unit if in the military.
    • Online certificates will be issued in 2 to 5 days; mailed certificates will be issued in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Federal Criminal Records Check (FBI fingerprinting required)
    • Cost: $27.50, payable by credit card.
    • Under "Reason Fingerprinted," choose "Employment with a significant likelihood of regular contact with children."
    • Print your confirmation screen that includes your registration number, and bring this with you to your fingerprinting session.
    • Find fingerprinting locations here.
    • Certificates are mailed in 5 to 10 days. If a record exists, there will be a slight delay. If you have not received your certificate in the expected time, call 717-783-6211 for help getting a duplicate.

After Your Shadowing Experience

Following your shadowing experience, please complete the online evaluation.