Explore the Observership Program


The International Patient Center at Massachusetts General Hospital coordinates informal educational initiatives, called observerships, for physicians, researchers and other health care professionals who wish to observe specific areas of clinical care, research or administrative operations at Mass General in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. These customized educational programs facilitate knowledge sharing and expertise in clinical care, as well as quality and innovation in health care.

The International Observership Program builds on the hospital’s rich legacy and mission to educate future clinical, research and administrative leaders in health care. The program coordinates observerships based on the needs and interests of each prospective observer and the availability of professional staff. The topics covered in this program are broad and tailored to each individual or group based on the observers’ learning objectives.

Observership programs have ranged from four-hour visits within one department to multiple months-long observerships that may focus on a single department, or depending on the discipline, include multiple departments and faculty. Observers from all over the world, including leading clinicians, researchers, government officials and hospital administrators, visit Mass General to learn more about various topics, such as:

  • Best practices and innovations in patient care
  • Leading-edge research
  • Hospital management and operations
  • Staff well-being and work-life balance
  • Quality and safety

The observership program is designed for currently practicing clinicians and is not suitable for students or individuals seeking residency opportunities at the hospital. Acceptance into the program is based on many factors, including Mass General’s capacity and associated ability to host either individuals or delegations at any given time.

Please be advised that in an observership, observers will not physically engage with any patients or advise on any cases. Observers will strictly be observing/shadowing our professional staff. Participation in our observership program does not have any bearing on pending or future internship/fellowship applications.

The Mass General International Observership Program is not affiliated with any Harvard Medical School program(s). Mass General does not award medical education credits for observerships. Upon successful completion of an observership program, observers will receive a certificate of attendance.

About Mass General Hospital

Each year, Mass General is recognized for achieving the highest standards in patient care, education and research, ranking the hospital among the world’s most prestigious medical institutions. Observerships coordinated by the International Patient Center can provide insights into the history of Mass General, its role in shaping health care practice and policy in the United States and its vision of the future of health care.

Mass General is located in the heart of downtown Boston, a historic and vibrant coastal city in the northeastern United States. Boston is among the most diverse and welcoming communities in the United States, home to world-renowned universities, hospitals and corporations that attract staff, patients and customers from around the world

Mass General’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Guided by the needs of our patients and their families, Mass General aims to deliver the very best health care in a safe, compassionate environment; to advance that care through innovative research and education, and to improve the health and well-being of the diverse communities we serve. Mass General has a specific commitment to values we call Diversity and Inclusion.

Diversity is the richness of human differences. Inclusion is when everyone feels connected, valued and engaged. At Massachusetts General Hospital, we believe that because of diversity we excel; through inclusion we respect; focused on equity we serve, heal, educate and innovate.


Applicants to the Mass General International Observership Program must complete the following:

  • Provide proof of proficiency in English (listening, speaking, reading and writing) via ELTS or TOEFL, if English is not the native language
  • Pass a criminal background investigation. Foreign nationals of countries or territories that do not allow for criminal background investigations to be conducted by United States companies are ineligible to participate in the observership program
  • Provide satisfactory employment references/verification
  • Provide proof of health insurance coverage. In compliance with state and federal mandates, Mass General requires all non-employee observers to purchase and maintain health insurance for the period of time that they are engaged in Mass General-sponsored activities and/or programs. Proof of coverage will be required at least 10 days in advance of the non-employee’s arrival to Mass General
  • For clinical observerships, applicants must be current practicing physicians with a MD, PhD or MBBS degree. Applicants are subject to a credential review. Medical students or graduates are not eligible to apply. Nurses may contact the Norman Knight Nursing Center or Mass General Institute of Health Professions for observership inquiries (please see below).
  • Provide documentation of current immunizations:
    • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
    • Hepatitis B
    • TB (tuberculosis) status (If there is a history of a positive PPD (tuberculosis) test, applicant must provide a chest x-ray report from within the past year)
    • Current flu vaccination

How to Apply

Application Process and Requirements

An International Observership Program application is not considered complete until all of the following requirements are satisfied:

  • Completed (and signed) application form
  • Current curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Two signed letters of professional recommendation from director-level supervisors on company/institution letterhead
  • Signed Background Authorization Form 
  • Signed Observer Expectations Form
  • Completed Occupational Health Form
  • Completed Health Insurance Attestation
  • Statement of purpose, a one-page letter outlining the following information: 
    • Desired dates of observership (typically limited to one to three months, depending on the department requested)
    • Specialty/sub-specialty to be observed (please be more specific than “internal medicine”)
    • Detailed learning objectives to be achieved while observing
  • Copy of Passport
    • Please know we do not offer assistance with visa applications. Nevertheless, we can provide a letter on your behalf detailing the purpose of your travel.

The Mass General International Observership Program requires a minimum of six weeks (from receipt) to process observership applications. The application is electronically submitted via the application form. A $300 USD non-refundable application fee per observer is required upon application submission.


If you are a nurse (RN or NP) interested in observing at Mass General, please contact the Norman Knight Nursing Center or the Mass General Institute of Health Professions.

Medical students

The International Observership Program at Mass General is not designed for students. Participation in a Mass General observership will not have any bearing on current or future internships, residencies or fellowship applications to our hospital or affiliates. If you are interested in an internship, residency or fellowship program at Mass General, please visit the Teaching and Education website. If you are currently a medical student and wish to arrange a clerkship at Mass General, please contact Harvard Medical School.

Program Fees (exclusive of travel and accommodations)

A $300 non-refundable *application fee per observer will be due upon submission. The application fee will be deducted from the total amount due.

All fees must be paid in U.S. funds at least 15 days prior to the observership start date.

Observership fees range from $1500/day for a clinician observer (with discounts for longer stays) to $10,000/day for a delegation visit depending on the group size. Contact our office for more information on fees.

* Please note that application fees will not be refunded for applications that are deemed incomplete or unqualified (based on program requirements) or otherwise unapproved by Mass General.

Participating Departments

The following are the clinical areas participating in the International Observership Program. Note that many sub-services are listed in detail on the CVENT application website:

If you have interest in a department not listed here, please email the International Observership Program to inquire if an observership is available.

Request More Information

Contact the International Observership Program

Call or email to learn more.
617-726-2787 ext. 61132
Request more information
Apply to the program