Health care providers work with the general public: individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and life experiences. Both shadowing and volunteering offers you the ability to experience working with those of diverse backgrounds in unique settings.
Shadowing allows those considering a health professions career an “inside look” on the profession. Through shadowing a professional, it is possible to see if the field you have chosen is truly a “good fit” for your interests, and enhances your ability to interact with the admissions committee on an interview (i.e., how do you really know what it is like to be a doctor, dentist, therapist, etc.?). Shadowing can, therefore, truly solidify your commitment to a chosen field, or serve to guide your interests to a new career path that seems more fulfilling to you.
Volunteering is often a natural fit for those interested in helping others through a professional health career. The quality and duration of your volunteerism will determine the impact that this has on your application. A long-term commitment to an organization is much more effective than a few hours or a day volunteering for a special event. Are you committed to your work? Were you able to assume a leadership role? What has volunteering taught you about yourself and others? A long-term commitment will demonstrate that you have the stamina needed to complete your goals.