Observing & Volunteering

The Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Florida seeks to provide an environment that teaches the joys of research and of caring for patients in a health care setting.

Our priority is first to medical trainees within UF, including all UF College of Medicine medical students, housestaff, fellows, and those in ancillary health care services. However, we also recognize that our system is capable of inspiring undergraduates to professionally care for patients as well as extending learning opportunities to foreign physicians.

Our department offers two forms of alternate educational experiences: observerships (shadowing) and volunteering.

Medical students attending other colleges of medicine, please refer to Visiting Student Elective via the UF COM Office of Student Affairs and Registration.


What Is a Volunteer?

We define Volunteering as voluntary work with a faculty or staff member in a basic science research setting lasting more than 6 months.

The volunteering experience does not constitute medical education, graduate medical education, continuing medical education, or training leading to licensure or board certification. Volunteers receive no academic credit unless they are UF Students enrolled in (Physician Shadowing) classes (such as MEL4012, HNN4221, BMS4905, GMS7979 or BME6010). These students are exempt from filling out the volunteer packet.

The volunteer is not a resident, medical staff member, or UF College of Medicine employee and must not represent him/herself as such. Volunteers are not allowed to provide patient care, even under supervision, but are allowed to provide support services to the division or department with which they work.

Permissible activities for an observer include:

  • Providing basic support services such as answering phones, filing, special projects, and other administrative services as requested by the faculty or staff sponsor; these duties must be performed under direct supervision.

How to Volunteer

Volunteers must submit forms no later than one month before the requested start date. International students or foreign medical graduates must complete all forms no later than six months before the requested start date.

Important Information for Volunteering

  • In general, no volunteer will be allowed access to restricted data, including but not limited to:
    • Personal Health Information
    • Financial Information
    • Student Records
    • Human Resource Information (access will be allowed in limited cases with signed approval from the Privacy Office)
  • If the volunteer is going to have patient contact or animal contact, a health assessment is required.
    • It will be the volunteer’s or the sponsoring division’s responsibility to pay the related charges for the health assessment and required vaccines. The division sponsoring may decide to have the individual be responsible for the costs.
  • Volunteers must register with the Privacy Office so that he/she is included in the Privacy Office database, prior to visiting. Visit the UF Privacy Office website for training instructions.
  • The individual may not receive any monetary or material compensation from any source for his/her volunteer service.
  • While the individual is providing volunteer services, he/she will be covered by the University’s worker’s compensation policy or state liability protection, as appropriate.
  • If the volunteer is a non-resident alien, the sponsor must attach a copy of his/her I-94 card.
  • Background checks may be required.

Patient Care Observer/Shadower

Any person who is permitted to enter patient care areas at UF Health who is not formally associated with UF must be accounted for by a formal registration process. Guests who observe patient care (or have access to PHI) must be accompanied and/or supervised by a UF representative at all times. 

Who is an Observer?

Generally speaking, an observer is a temporary, unpaid person who wishes to shadow a UF/UF Health clinician rendering patient care for purposes of enhancing the observer’s knowledge about the provision of care. Observers generally include the following:

  • Visiting health care professionals, scholars, or students
  • Other persons not officially associated with UF/UF Health who arrive here to observe patient care

Who is not an Observer?

  • UF/UF Health volunteers
  • UF fellows, interns, residents, and other students while on formal clinical rotations or assignment
  • Students in a UF-affiliated clinical education program (i.e., Santa Fe students)
  • Persons participating in a hospital tour

General Requirements

  • Observers may shadow for a period of up to 1 week per calendar year
  • Be 18 years of age (limited exceptions apply)
  • Complete Privacy/HIPAA General Awareness Training
  • Wear a department-provided ID badge whenever available
  • Have proof of flu vaccination
  • Have proof of Covid vaccination
  • Respect patient privacy and honor all requests by patients who do not want observers present
  • Behavior by observers considered to be disrespectful, disruptive, or that violates UF policy or the sponsoring department requirements is not tolerated
  • Other requirements may also apply, so please check with your Sponsor

Permissible activities for an observer

  • Observing grand rounds or other activities the sponsor attends
  • Observing a physician during patient rounds
  • Observing patient-physician interactions in an outpatient clinical setting
  • Discussion of patient interactions with the sponsoring faculty or designee

How to become an Observer

To begin the process, the requesting observer must first attain a faculty sponsor and determine a time period. Then, fill out the Observation Request Form. Someone will get back to you if dates and sponsor are acceptable to request the additional requirements below.

*We do not accept Patient Care Observers during the months of June and July.

**Observers must submit forms no later than one month before the requested start date.