BS MD without volunteering

My DD is doing shadowing with an anesthesiologist. She doesn’t have any medical volunteering experience. We are having practical difficulties in finding medical volunteering opportunities.

How will this impact her BSMD application?

I believe most successful BSMD applicants have patient facing experience…like assistant CNA, EMT/assistant EMT, etc. Other experiences could be working as a scribe, or volunteering in a hospital, hospice, assisted living home.

Bigger picture, how can your student be sure they want to be a physician without having had that direct experience?

They can certainly apply to BSMD programs and take their shot, as I expect you know most of them have low single digit acceptance rates so they are all reaches. Consider BSDO programs and/or early assurance programs too.


@WayOutWestMom do you know anything about this?

How to get EMT or CNA experience if you are still 16? We are located in Bay Area california.

You have to look at your state rules. Many states let 16 years olds work as assistant CNAs.

ETA: looks like CNA age in California is 16, EMT 18

Our volunteer ambulance has a youth organization. It allows HS students to volunteer in a variety of ways and get direct patient experience. Does your town have something like this?


We are also in the Bay Area; our local schools have an ROP program with an option in Health Sciences & Medical Technology. When my H had surgery a student in the program assisted with basic patient-oriented tasks. Does your district have something similar?

Students have to be careful with these health tech programs. In my area (Chicagoland), they are not as rigorous as taking honors and AP classes all 4 years in all 5 core areas (eng, math, science, foreign language, SS), so these can become a weakness in college apps. Try to get the patient facing experience outside of school, IMO.

During covid, not having any patient-facing experiences was common, but since life has resumed more normal contours, the older expectation for some patient-facing experience in BA/MD applicants has been resurrected.

Volunteering (or paid employment) in some capacity that provides exposure to patient care is expected. How can you know you want to be a doctor (which is 100% patient care) if you’ve never actually worked with patients.

While hospital volunteering may be hard to come by, you can look at other sites–nursing home volunteers, counselor/volunteer at a camp for children with disabilities, volunteer at a group home for physical or mentally challenged adults, home health care assistant.

California allows individuals who are 16 years old and older to earn CNA certification and work in that capacity.

She is currently in senior year.She found interest in medicine while doing research work in 11th grade. With shadowing experience it was firmed up.
Now we are exploring BSMD option as she decided about medicine.
In California to be a CNA you need to complete CNA training program which it looks only during the school goers and the training period is 5 weeks.
Not sure how this will work with applications with due date of November.

I hope she is also considering the regular process of attending undergrad school and then applying to medical school. The vast majority of physicians do this. Many of the BS/MD programs are very very highly competitive for admissions.

Plus…she is a high school student, with so many options that could present themselves.


Every state requires individuals wishing to be a CNA to complete a formal training program. CNAs work with vulnerable populations and it’s important that anyone working with patients meets the minimum educational standards.

Here’s list of programs that offer CNA training in California.

Because CNA training requires hands on experiences, it cannot be done via remote learning.