Observation and Learning Experience



In support of our commitment to career development, education and training of health care professionals, UK HealthCare provides individuals with observations and learning experiences in various clinical areas and business professional departments. Multiple learning opportunities are provided by UK HealthCare and onboarded by the office of Observation and Learning Experience (OLE). These classifications include: 

  • Observers: individuals shadowing or observing only for a learning experience.
  • Students: individuals performing activities as part of academic credit or training requirements.
  • Research Learners: individuals volunteering with research as part of a learning experience. 

How OLE Supports You

Many rules and regulations shall be followed to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, hospital accreditation standards, and to ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors. Observation and Learning Experience (OLE) provides a centralized office to compliantly onboard observers, students and research learners into the UK HealthCare enterprise. All observers, students and research learners shall be onboarded and approved through the OLE office or a partnering area prior to beginning their learning experience.

General Requirements

  • Individuals who aspire to participate in a learning experience shall contact UK HealthCare professionals directly or work with a program coordinator to acquire a sponsorship or preceptorship.
  • Immunization information shall be provided by the learner. This includes acceptable documentation for COVID-19 vaccination, Tdap, MMR, Varicella, Tuberculosis and Influenza (Oct. 1 – March 31). Review the immunization requirements form below for additional information.
  • Forms specific to the learning experience shall be reviewed and completed by the learner. This includes HIPAA, orientation information, acknowledgements and more.
  • Personal health insurance is required for all learners during their learning experience. 
  • Prescreening documentation such as a three-part background check, nine-panel drug screen and research learner questionnaire may be requested.
  • Additional documentation as pertinent to the learner and their experience may also be required.

New vaccination requirements for personal observations & Research Learners

As of September 2022, individuals who are coming into UK HealthCare for personal observations or Research Learner experiences will have to abide by new guidelines set by University Health Services leadership. In addition to the vaccination requirements set forth above individuals will require the following:

  • Tuberculosis (TB) test within 2 months of your start date. This test must be a 2-step TB Skin Test or IGRA blood draw.
  • Documentation of one Tdap vaccine within the past 5 years.

For additional information about these requirements review the immunization requirements document below. If you aren’t sure if you fall into these categories please reach out to the OLE office.

New protocol for students/learners returning to campus

In keeping with CDC guidelines, UK HealthCare is issuing new instructions for students/learners who will need to enter UK HealthCare facilities. Students will be asked to complete an electronic screening survey prior to entry each time as well as wear a universal mask and comply with social distancing guidelines. See the protocol linked below for details.

Our objective with this protocol is to ensure the safety of all who enter our facilities and to minimize the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.


Onboarding Process

Flowchart showing the steps of the onboarding process for Observation & Learning Experience.

  1. Submit request.
  2. Receive onboarding packet.
  3. Submit onboarding documents.
  4. Receive approval email with badge instructions.
  5. Acquire badge(s).

Onboarding complete!

Participation Criteria

All Learners

  • Shall not begin their learning experience until approved by Observation and Learning Experience or one of the partnering areas listed below:
    • College of Medicine (COM) shall onboard COM students for observations and practicums.
    • Nursing Staff Development shall onboard undergraduate nursing students for practicums. 
    • College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant (PA) Studies shall onboard UK PA students for practicums.
  • Shall acquire a sponsor or preceptor that is a current, active UK HealthCare employee and is not a relative.
  • Learners subject to US visa requirements or restrictions may only participate in experiences during the approved dates listed on their valid official visa documents.
  • Shall be subject to UK HealthCare policies and procedures, and to applicable federal, state, and local laws that may apply to their activities.
  • Shall wear their identification badge and companion badge at all times during their learning experience.


  • Shall be 16 years of age or an individual who is at least 14 years of age and is affiliated with an educational program approved by Observation and Learning Experience for observation experiences. 
  • Shall be 16 years of age to enter an operating room (OR) and the Emergency Department (ED).
  • Shall not participate in more than one observation experience exceeding six (6) months in duration unless approved by Observation and Learning Experience to meet course or degree requirements.
  • Shall not engage in activities other than observing/shadowing. Shadowing does not include the following:
    • Direct patient care;
    • Hospital or ambulatory clinic privileges;
    • Providing consultation or advice related to patient care; and
    • Performing work related activities.
    • This includes, but is not limited to: interviewing patients, examining patients, and/or accessing patient medical records without proper consent.


  • Shall be enrolled in a course or educational program with an organization that has a current affiliation agreement with UK HealthCare.
  • Shall receive academic credit or meet training requirements for the learning experience.
  • Shall provide an approved background check and drug screen that meets UK HealthCare requirements:
    • Processed within one year or as part of current educational program.
    • Background check includes: criminal history, sex offender registry, healthcare sanctions.
    • Drug screen* 

Research Learners

  • Shall meet eligibility requirements as it pertains to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Review the sponsor guide to learn about legal considerations for research learning experiences.
  • Shall provide an approved background check and drug screen that meets UK HealthCare requirements:
    • Processed within one year or as part of current educational program.
    • Background check includes: criminal history, sex offender registry, healthcare sanctions.
    • Drug screen*

*Drug Screen for Students and Research Learners includes:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiate Metabolites
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene

Frequently Asked Questions

May I begin my learning experience prior to submitting all requirements or acquiring my badge?

No. You may begin your learning experience once all requirements have been submitted, you have received approval from ole, and you have acquired the appropriate badges.

I’ve been processed before. Can you use my existing information?

Maybe. Submit your request and ole will pull your file, confirm participation eligibility, and discern if additional documentation is required.

What is the onboarding timeline?

Allow 3+ weeks. Onboarding requests are responded to within 48 business hours.  Verification of submitted onboarding documents is approximately 2 weeks.  Badge processing is 1-3 days.   

What is the difference between an ID badge and a companion badge?

An ID badge showcases the learner’s name and photograph whereas the companion badge clearly states the role of the learner as an observer, student, or research learner. All learners shall wear both an ID badge and a companion badge during their experience.

Companion badges extended by partnering areas will state: medical student, medical observer, nursing student, physician assistant student.

What if my learner doesn't have a companion badge?

Contact OLE or the appropriate partner area (com, nursing staff development, physician assistant studies). All learners are extended a companion badge after required documentation has been received and verified; it shall be worn at all times during the learning experience.

What is the difference between an “observer” and a “student?”

An observer is an individual (student or non-student) that is observing only. This may also be referred to as “shadowing”. Observing does not include the following: direct patient care; hospital or ambulatory privileges; providing consultation or advice related to patient care; and performing work related activities.

A student is an individual that is engaging in activities beyond observing as part of their learning experience and for academic credit or training requirements. A student may observe as part of their learning experience; however, a student is also granted the privilege of doing more than observing as long as those activities are pertinent to their formal education.

How long may I observe?

Generally 6 months. If you are observing for course credit or program participation, then you may observe as long as required and as approved by ole. If you are observing for another reason such as personal interest or for medical school applications, you are granted a total of 6 months to observe.

May I submit another request to observe after my first observation is complete?

Yes. You may always submit a request. However, individuals may not exceed 6 months of observation for personal experience. Your file will be pulled to ensure the request is not in conflict of policy.

May I have more than one sponsor or preceptor at a time?

Yes. Be sure to provide ole with the names and contact information of all sponsors and preceptors for approval.

Can you help me find a sponsor or preceptor?

No. The learner shall contact UK HealthCare professionals directly or work with a program coordinator to acquire a sponsor or preceptor. The UK HealthCare services page provides a variety of information that may be helpful.

Do I need to meet the immunization requirements if I’m not entering a patient care area within UK HealthCare?

Yes. The immunization documentation is required for all learners entering the UK HealthCare enterprise.

Are Tdap, Dtap, and TD the same thing?

No. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) is a vaccine for adolescents and adults that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tdap and Dtap are different and do not fulfill the immunization requirement. Tdap was first recommended in 2005.

Does OLE pay for background checks and drug screens?

No. The cost of screens is borne by the learner. Some learners may be affiliated with a program that covers the associated costs.

Does UK HealthCare pay for parking?

No. UK HealthCare does not pay for parking. However, you are provided with the opportunity to acquire a parking pass for select areas of campus through UK parking and transportation services



Call 859-218-5792 or 859-218-5793

Email: OLErequests@uky.edu


Observation and Learning Experience 
UK Good Samaritan Hospital 
310 S. Limestone, Suite B111 
Lexington KY 40508   

Office hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


The main entrance of Good Samaritan Hospital is located on the ground floor. Go to the first floor and follow signs to vending. Our office is located in Suite B111 next to vending.