Clinic Intern Program
The Penn State Clinic Intern Program provides undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing a career in medicine an opportunity to interact professionally with patients and medical staff in the Clinical Services department.
As an intern, students conduct patient intake exams and assist clinical staff.
Volunteering gives students a first-hand understanding of the dynamics of the health care system and enhances communication skills with patients and members of the health care team. Interns earn 4-6 credits over two semesters for participating in the Clinic Intern Program. Program interns earn about 100 patient contact hours over the two semesters and may return to volunteer for additional semesters if they choose.
How to become a Clinic Intern
Intern applications are accepted between January and March each year. After students apply, they will be notified in the spring and early summer if granted for an interview. Students will need to obtain healthcare clearances and be up to date with immunizations prior to the interview. After interviews, selected students begin a training course the following spring semester.
The class size is small, with only 12-25 students accepted into the class each year. As with many programs, competition is great for a limited number of seats and there are typically many more qualified applicants than the program is able to accommodate.
If I become a Clinic Intern, what can I expect?
Beginning in the spring semester, all participants selected for the Clinic Intern Program are trained to conduct initial patient intake screenings in a Bio-Behavioral Health course (BBH497). This class is typically held on Mondays from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
The Clinic Intern Program is a two-semester commitment (beginning in the spring semester and continuing the following fall semester). The classroom portion of the program takes place mostly during the spring semester and interns must commit to working in the clinic for one four-hour block of time each week for two semesters.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When can I apply for the program?
You may submit an application online each year in January. Applications submitted during that time will be considered for the following spring semester class. Applications will not be accepted at any other time.
- How long is the program?
The program runs for two consecutive semesters, beginning in the spring and continuing through the fall. Classroom instruction begins the first week of classes in the spring semester.
- Is there any prior experience necessary?
No, there are no class pre-requisites, but healthcare clearances are required. It is ideal for the student to be interested in a career in a medical field. All necessary skills will be taught in the classroom prior to beginning hours in the clinic.
- How are interns chosen?
Students are evaluated based on their application, GPA, class standing, and presentation during the interview. Writing and grammar on the application as well as content in the application questions, professional attitude, and appearance, interest in the program and ability to fit the program’s required hours into the student’s schedule are some of the considerations taken into account when students are selected.
Students may not be chosen because they are over-qualified for the program (e.g. have certifications such as EMT-B with skills above what are taught to complete volunteer duties) or because other students may be able to benefit more from the experience.
- When will I know if I have been selected for the program?
Applications are typically reviewed over the spring and summer. Interviews are held at the beginning of the fall semester. All applicants will be advised of their selection by the beginning of the fall semester.
- What level class is the volunteer program?
The volunteer program is renewed each year and is subject to change. In the past, it has been a 400-level BBH class, with 2-3 credits given in the spring and 2-3 credits given in the fall.
- Can I be a Clinic Intern at UHS without taking the course?
No, you must take the course to be trained as a Clinic Intern.
- What does the class consist of?
The class trains students in assessing vital signs, determining the reason for the visit, documenting in an electronic medical record, and performing simple procedures such as visual acuity. Other topics include common health concerns, proper documentation, and patient confidentiality. There are homework assignments, quizzes, and exams.
- When does the clinic part of the program begin?
Clinic hours usually begin regularly after 6-8 weeks of training, however, observation in the clinic begins in the first few weeks of class. Hours are scheduled weekly for a continuous 4-hour block of time, either in the morning or afternoon.
- What responsibilities do the volunteers have while working in the clinic?
Students are trained in electronic record documentation, taking vital signs, exam room supply stocking and transportation of patients within the facility, among other things. Students are able to observe a variety of procedures and may shadow a clinician at scheduled times.
- Are students trained to work in all areas of Clinical Services?
No, currently students are trained to work with primary care clinicians only.
- Do the clinic hours change from semester to semester?
Yes. Students must sign up for their clinic hours each semester.
- Can I volunteer for more than two semesters?
Yes. You may continue to volunteer in the clinic while you are a Penn State student. No classroom component is required, and there are no credits given beyond 2 semesters.
- Are there any other health care volunteer opportunities in the area?
Yes. Within University Health Services, other opportunities include Emergency Medical Services and Physical Therapy. Health Promotion and Wellness also offers student volunteer experiences through its HealthWorks and Healthy Penn State Ambassador programs. Outside of Penn State there may also be opportunities at Mount Nittany Medical Center and Centre Volunteers in Medicine.