Application Process & FAQs

What’s a Non-Student/Clinical Observer (Observer)?

An Observer is a student who is involved in healthcare education through a formal, officially recognized educational program who requests approval to observe patient care in a Seton facility in a strictly non-medical capacity (i.e., this is a one-way experience with absolutely no physical contact with the patient). An example of an Observer is a pre-medical college student interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Observation is limited to up to 60 days total and may be less as determined by the Seton Office of Academic Affairs based on the type/purpose of the observation.

A non-recurring observation by a Non-Clinical Observer is limited to 40 hours total. Observation will not be allowed for vaginal deliveries. Observation will not be allowed for trauma patients who have not had an opportunity to give their verbal and written consent. Observers will not assist in any procedures or take part in any action whatsoever other than passive observation at any time. Only observers in the operating room will be permitted to wear scrubs while observing but shall not enter the sterile field or handle any object/instruments.

Clinical students should be utilizing existing programs that have affiliation agreements with Seton. Any clinician who becomes an Observer may not act in any clinical capacity whatsoever. Physicians, nurses, PAs and other clinicians have no additional rights, leniency or approval to have any patient contact at all. This should be a “one-way” experience (with no teaching or advising on the part of the Observer, as the giving of advice is considered practicing medicine by the Texas Medical Board). This process is not in place of more thorough processes like the Texas Medical Board, Residency Application, etc. Observers must be at least 18 years old.

Who is NOT an Observer?

  1. Clinicians with a Texas medical license who expect to practice medicine or engage in education. (Must go through the Medical Staff Office.)
  2. Research assistants. (Must go through the Office of Research Administration.)
  3. Visiting 4th year medical school students. (Refer to the AAMC Visiting Students Application Service System.)
  4. Those in physician residency or fellowship training. (Must contact the Graduate Medical Education office.)
  5. Students, trainees or practitioners training as part of a formal clinical education governed by an affiliation agreement with Seton. (Must contact the Clinical Education Department.)
  6. Individual who is observing patient care at the request of the patient or patient’s legal representative. (Refer to Observers & Visitors – Patient Visiting policy.)
  7. Media or vendors. (Refer to Media Relations policy and Vendor Representatives – Access policy.)
  8. Visiting practitioners from partner organizations governed by another visitation program.
  9. Seton associates observing patient care in a manner related to their job duties. (If observing outside of their job duties, Seton associates are covered by their hiring background check and annual immunizations. However, they still need to complete the Observer Agreement, Observer Orientation Education and the Sponsor Accountability Attestation [Attachments A-C in the Observer Application Package], and their Sponsor must still obtain written and verbal patient consent. The Seton associate can wear their normal Seton badge, but must be cognizant of the possibility for confusion and are limited to passive observation meaning they must not practice medicine, provide professional services of any kind to include education and advising or access the medical record.)
  10. Volunteers or interns. (Must go through a Volunteer Services office.)


How do I apply?

There are three basic requirements that you have to address for your application. You’ll have to fill out our forms, send proof of your vaccinations, and submit payment for your background check and Seton badge.

  1. Forms (these forms are compiled into a single Observer Application Package):
    1. Attachment A: Observer Agreement
    2. Attachment B: Observer Orientation Education
    3. Attachment C: Sponsor Accountability Attestation
    4. Attachment D: HIPAA Review
    5. Attachment E: Background Check Release Form
    6. Attachment F: Application Cover Sheet

Please print and fill out the above forms. Scan and email them (along with the vaccinations listed below) to or fax them to 512-380-7430. Please carefully review all forms. Common mistakes include missing signature(s) on Sponsor Accountability Attestation, electronic signature on Background Check (must be an actual signature), missing completed background check form and missing immunizations. It is the Observer’s responsibility to obtain needed signatures, and incomplete packages will not be considered for approval. See more information regarding Sponsors below.

  1. Vaccinations:
    1. Two varicella vaccinations, a documented history of disease or a positive titer proving immunity.
    2. Two measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccinations or a positive titer proving immunity for each disease.
    3. Three hepatitis B vaccinations or a signed declination.
    4. TB test within the past 12 months to include date administered, date read and results in mm…if history of positive test, we will also need a chest X-ray within two years.
    5. Influenza vaccination (if Observation is during flu season: usually September through April).
    6. Tdap (pertussis vaccine) or a signed declination.
  2. Payment:

Seton Healthcare Family requires $30 in order to process your background check and to cover your badge (If you are an international applicant, the cost of the background check will be more like $150-$200…notify the Observer Coordinator of the country, and he or she will let you know how much the cost will be). The background check can take about 2 weeks (can be longer for international applicants) and will begin AFTER you have been cleared through Occupational Health. We will not begin to process your background check until we receive payment, all your documents are complete and you have been cleared by Occupational Health. Payment can be hand carried or mailed in the form of check or money order made payable to Seton Healthcare Family and sent or carried to the following address:

Seton Administrative Offices
Attn: Academics Coordinator
1345 Philomena St., Suite 410.3
Austin, TX 78723

What’s a Sponsor and how do I get one?

A Sponsor is a medical professional (usually a physician) who is responsible for the Observer and personally provides continuous supervision (this is the person you will “shadow”). Observer has the responsibility of securing a Sponsor who will agree to the observation. No Sponsors will be “assigned.” Research the departments and/or individuals you would like to shadow, and contact them to establish and foster a relationship. If they are willing to Sponsor you, obtain their signature on Form C – Sponsor Accountability Attestation. You’ll also need the signature of the Unit Director of the department in which you plan to observe. Incomplete packages will not be considered for approval.

OK, I’ve submitted my application (forms, vaccinations, and payment). Now what?

Please allow at least two weeks from the time that ALL application requirements have been received until you can expect to be released to Observe. You will be notified by the Observer Coordinator of your application status. Once all other conditions have been met, verification is sent by Human Resources to the Seton Badge office. The Seton-approved badge must be visibly worn above the waist at all times while on site. Once you have your badge, you can coordinate your observation with your Sponsor according to his or her schedule. You must turn your badge back into your Sponsor at the completion of your observation (e.g., completion of the entire observation experience which may be up to 40 hours depending on your Sponsor’s schedule).

Please email the Observer Coordinator if you have any questions.