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Observership & Volunteering

The Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida (UF) seeks to provide an environment that teaches the joy of caring for children in a health care setting. Our priority is first to medical trainees within UF, including all UF COM medical students, house staff, fellows and those in ancillary health care services. However, we also recognize that our system is capable of inspiring UF undergraduates to professionally care for children as well as extending learning opportunities to foreign physicians. Our department offers two forms of alternate educational experiences, observerships and volunteering.

The availability of is at the discretion of each division, and must take into consideration the division’s resources and the needs of learners already involved in the department. The addition of learners from outside of our institution must not negatively impact the learning of individuals within our institution. In order to ensure that this does not occur, faculty who wish to sponsor an observer must review which COM learners will be involved on his/her service prior to any sponsorships. This includes but is not limited to reviewing house staff assignments to their service and medical student enrollment.

Medical students attending other colleges of medicine should be referred to Visiting Student Elective via the UF COM Office of Student Affairs and Registration.

Observership

We define an Observership as a voluntary experience with a practicing physician in a clinical setting lasting less than 30 consecutive days[1]. The Observership does not constitute medical education, graduate medical education, continuing medical education, or training leading to licensure or board certification. The observer receives no academic credit. The observer is not a student, resident, medical staff member, or employee of UF COM and must not represent him/herself as such. Observers are not allowed to provide patient care, even under supervision.


[1] A day is considered any time period greater than 1 hour spent in this clinical experience. Therefore, 1 hour in clinic is equivalent to one day of Observership or volunteerism.

Permissible activities for an observer include:

  • Participation in grand rounds, seminars, and other didactic activities;
  • Rounding on patients with the sponsor or agreeable associate;
  • Observing Patient-Physician interactions in an outpatient clinical setting;
  • Discussion of patient interactions with the sponsoring faculty or designee

To begin the process, the requesting observer must first attain a faculty sponsor. Once attained, it is the responsibility of the requesting observer to complete all forms listed within the Observership Checklist and send all documents via email to observship@peds.ufl.edu no later than two weeks before the requested start date. The application checklist refers to the following requirements:

Please allow 10-14 days for application processing and approval once the application packet is received in full. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact observership@peds.ufl.edu. The existence of this document creates no obligation for any division to provide such an experience.

Volunteering

We define Volunteering as a non-paid experience with a practicing physician in a clinical setting lasting more than 22 consecutive days or more than 21 non-consecutive days within a 120 day period. The volunteering experience does not constitute medical education, graduate medical education, continuing medical education, or training leading to licensure or board certification. The volunteer receives no academic credit. The volunteer is not a medical student, resident, medical staff member or UF COM 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:

  • Participation in grand rounds or other activities the sponsor attends;
  • Rounding on patients with the sponsor or agreeable associate;
  • Observing Patient-Physician interactions in an outpatient clinical setting;
  • Discussion of patient interactions with the sponsoring faculty or designee;
  • Provide basic support services such as answering phones, chart maintenance, filing, special projects, and other administrative services as requested by your faculty sponsor and are performed under direct supervision

To begin the process, the requesting volunteer must first attain a faculty sponsor and determine a time period. Once attained, it is the responsibility of the requesting volunteer to complete all forms listed within the Volunteer Checklist and return via email to volunteer@peds.ufl.edu no later than two months before the requested start date. International students or foreign medical graduates must complete all forms no later than sixth months before the requested start date. The application checklist refers to the following requirements:

Notes about Volunteering Application

  • In general, no volunteer will be allowed access to restricted data including but not limited to: Personal Health Information, Financial Information, Student Records or Human Resource Information. (Access will be allowed in limited cases with signed approval from the Privacy Office.)
  • If your volunteer is going to have patient contact or animal contact, a Health Assessment is required. It will be 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 complete either “HIPAA & Privacy – General Awareness” or “HIPAA for Researchers” (if they will be involved in research activities) and sign UF’s Confidentiality Statement and registering with the Privacy Office so that they are included in the Privacy Office database, prior to visiting. Visit the UF Privacy Office website for training instructions.
  • For clinical experiences (such as attending patient rounds or shadowing in clinic), the volunteer must attend a Mandatory Compliance training session, unless exempted by General Counsel, usually held at 11am on Thursdays in Room 4223 of the 1329 Building. If the volunteer is unable to make that training session, he/she should call 265-8359 to schedule a one-on-one session. He/she will be required to renew training online each subsequent year
  • The individual may not receive any monetary or material compensation from any source for his or her volunteer service.
  • While the individual is providing volunteer services, he or she will be covered by the University’s worker’s compensation policy or state liability protection as appropriate.
  • Both the volunteer and the supervisor should sign the form obtained from the above mentioned websites. If the volunteer is a non-resident alien, the sponsor must attach a copy of their I-94 card.
  • Each Division should maintain auditable records of the number, location, and duties of volunteers, along with the number of hours of service provided to the Department.
  • Background checks may be required of non-UF students and others. Request for an exemption from background checks can be made on the Department of Pediatrics Request for Shadowing Form.

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