Volunteering Overview

Volunteering positions are harder to find and more competitive to get, but typically involve the opportunity to work more closely with faculty to perform a research project, a clinical duty, or some other needed task. Unlike observers, volunteers are allowed to have direct patient contact, hence you can do a lot more. Volunteering means that you are not only observing, you are contributing. It is more responsibility and more time-commitment, but volunteering is an opportunity to show that you are dedicated, reliable, and willing to work hard – which will give your letter writer plenty of things to talk about in an LOR (should you request one). 

Students are strongly encouraged to consider the benefits of both shadowing and volunteering when determining how they want to get involved. 

For students interested in shadowing as well as volunteering, the UF Neurology Fixel institute offers the Navi-Gators program. In this program, students volunteer with various tasks around the clinic and, in exchange, are provided the opportunity to shadow providers within the clinics at the Fixel Institute. For more information about Navi-Gators, please see this website

Research Scholar Positions Overview 

Research Scholar positions are typically intensive volunteer positions involving a significant time commitment, typically at least 1 year and oftentimes 2 or more years. This unique role is similar to a volunteer, but has different administrative requirements. While these positions are open to anyone, these roles are typically filled by foreign medical graduates seeking to further their education. 

Any student interested in a research scholar position is advised to review the opportunities available on this website. Once a position has been secured (a faculty member has agreed to sponsor you), you may begin the required paperwork. International scholars must meet the requirements and also be approved through the UF RISC program, which requires paperwork from both the scholar and the department. 

Important Information

The people you are requesting to shadow/with whom you want to volunteer are busy people! Please be advised: 

  • DO NOT email a large number of faculty at once in an attempt to find a position or information faster. This comes across as insincere and inconsiderate. The faculty are in constant communication with each other, so we generally know when people do this.  
  • DO NOT expect faculty to be available whenever or wherever you are. Different faculty may work in different environments for different amounts of time. Faculty can work a research lab, inpatient (in hospitals), outpatient (in clinics), or some combination. Depending on what else faculty do, they may only have clinical duties a few weeks a month, a few days per week, or less than that. Please be aware of these availabilities before selecting a faculty member – for neurology, they are listed on our opportunities website
  • DO NOT email faculty or staff for information that you can find on your own or from other sources. In fact, it’s generally wise to never email anyone for information you can find fairly easily on your own (i.e., in this text or by simple online search).  
  • DO NOT try to speed up the credentialing process – we have no control over that and the credentialing staff get to files as fast as they can. Trying to circumvent the process can be interpreted as entitlement or impatience.  

In short, we want to help you, but we appreciate students who are respectful of our time and the processes established by our government, our university, and our department.