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:

  • Pennsylvania Criminal History
    • Cost: $22
    • Register and pay by credit card at the link above. If you have no record, all you need to do is print the "certification" page. You will only receive something by U.S. mail if a criminal record is found.
  • Child Abuse History Clearance
    • Cost: $8
    • Pay by credit card at the link above if completing the online application. If you choose to complete the paper application, found here, you must mail payment as described.
    • Under "Application Purpose," choose "Individual 14 years of age or older who is applying for or holding a..."
    • List your name as first name, then last name, and include your complete legal address.
    • 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 two to five days; mailed certificates will be issued in four to six weeks.
  • Federal Criminal History/FBI Fingerprinting
    • Cost: $22.60, payable by credit card at the fingerprinting site.
    • Appointments are required. To register and schedule an appointment, click "Schedule or Manage Appointment" on the link above. The screen will prompt you to provide personal details, all of which are required to be fingerprinted.
    • Once you are registered, you will need to submit your finterprints at an IdentoGo site as soon as possible.
    • Fingerprinting takes approximately 20 minutes.
    • After submitting your fingerprints, you will receive the FBI Fingerprint Clearance in the mail within seven to 14 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 On-Site Experience

Following your on-site experience, please complete the online evaluation.