Medical Schools are most interested in applicants who are well-rounded and have a good sense of the demanding life of medical students and doctors. Students often demonstrate their commitment to pursuing a health care career by volunteering in their community, shadowing professionals, working in a research lab and joining the Pre-Med Club. Please click on the links below to navigate to the part of the page you are interested in.
Volunteering is a key component of preparation for medical school. As a pre-med student, it is important you demonstrate your devotion to helping others, and it is important you start early. By volunteering in the community you are able to show, not just tell, that you are committed to caring for and aiding those in need. Although there are always individual events needing volunteers that might have a health component, what matters more to admissions committees is a demonstration that applicants have been part of the volunteer community over the long haul.
Non-Profits with Volunteer Opportunities in Missoula
Helpful Links and Contacts
Shadowing a health care provider is a great way to decide which path you want to take whether it be MD, DO, PA or NP. We recommend that you shadow different providers and different specialties so that you can compare your experiences. It is important to remember that there are many students looking for job shadow opportunities and a limited amount of providers who will take student shadows. With that in mind you may not always receive the shadow opportunity you request.
The maximum amount of shadowing that the UM Shadow Coordinator will arrange for you is 20 hours per academic year. Those 20 hours will be broken up between different providers and different specialties. Also, keep in mind that the hospitals and clinics in town have their own restrictions on the amount of shadowing. In order to get all of you shadowing hours in, please do not wait until the last minute before requesting or we may not be able to accommodate your request.
- You must have your updated immunization records and required paperwork turned into Liz and Brittney before you can begin shadowing.
- You MUST wear your “student observer” badge while shadowing
- You are a shadow – shadows don’t talk.
- Stand in a corner, away from both patient and practitioner.
- Dress nicely and wear close-toed shoes with socks. Following the dress code is very important.
- Don’t use your cell phones in the hospital.
- Don’t bring personal belongings to the hospital.
- If you need to cancel because of a family emergency or you are sick please let us know ASAP.
- You are not allowed to assist in any type of procedure. This is an observation experience only.
- Remember HIPAA and CONFIDENTIALITY
- Community Medical Center Shadow Application
- Patrick Hospital Shadow Application
- Required Immunizations
- Copy of 2 Tuberculosis (TB) Tests within the last 12 months (completed within 7-12 days of each other), or a Negative Quantiferon TB Test, or 1 TB test along with completed questionnaire
- Copy of Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) Immunization Records (2 dates received or 1 Titer for each)
- Copy of Varicella (2 dates received or 1 Titer)
- Copy of Tetanus with Pertussis (Tdap) Immunization (1 date received within last 10 years)
- Copy of Flu Immunization (Yearly, within last 12 months)
- COVID vaccine is required at some locations
To schedule any shadowing opportunities, we use a platform called SONIA. This will be where you can find openings, access a timesheet, and keep record of vaccines needed.
To get set up with SONIA, please contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about job shadowing, please contact Liz Kelsey at email@example.com or (406) 243-4763.
While most medical schools do not require that you have research experience, such experience is highly valued in the admission process and will be helpful at schools that still have a research requirement for medical students (e.g., University of Washington School of Medicine). Further, there are several benefits associated with participating in a research lab. Those students who do have research experience report
getting a good (better) letter of evaluation
getting experience discerning anecdotal data from significant data (a valuable skill for any career)
most admissions officers are scientists as well
any connection during interviews is a good thing – common ground, conversation starters
the practice of medicine has elements of the scientific method embedded in it
Still, getting involved in research will be a challenge and will only be possible if you are extremely proactive. Find out what faculty members are doing as part of their scholarly activities and then make an appointment with these individuals to inquire about working in their lab or under their direction. You may have to approach a number of faculty members before finding one that has an opening in their lab. Consider faculty members outside your major department. Most faculty at UM welcome this opportunity, but have limited time so don't be surprised if you are not successful with the first person you approach. Perseverance pays off - keep trying. For a list of faculty members who often accept student researchers in their lab, please click here.
For further information on undergraduate research at UM, please click here.
Want to be more involved? Consider joining the Pre-Professional Health Sciences/Pre-Med Club! This group provides mutual peer support and community access for students pursuing an interest in medicine, no matter what field you plan to enter. Meet medical professionals and admissions representatives, get involved in volunteer activities, practice the MCAT and much more!
It is incredibly important to keep accurate records of the dates of extracurricular activities and the materials that are sent and received through the application service you are using. Keeping accurate records throughout your time as a Pre-Medical Sciences student will make the application process easier.