What Should I Do if I Don’t Have Recent Shadowing Hours?

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ADG 123: What Should I Do if I Don't Have Recent Shadowing Hours?

Session 123

A new application cycle is on the horizon, but with the pandemic, many students don’t have recent shadowing experience. Should they be worried?

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[0:25] Question of the Day

Q: “I want to talk to you about shadowing. I don’t have a lot of recent shadowing hours. I did a Global Brigades trip in 2018. That’s 40 hours of shadowing

I also had another experience in an ER where I was floating around shadowing but I don’t have the documentation for that. So I can’t really use those hours. On my end, I was recording stuff but I don’t have contact with a supervisor there if they wanted to verify the hours. I don’t really know how much proof the medicals look for in an application anyway.”

A: Put someone down and you’ll be fine. There are no records or proof of anything that you have to submit. A lot of this is an honor system.

[1:36] Shadowing Hours

Q: “Is it too late to start getting more shadowing hours now? It would probably seem like I’m rushing into more hours right before applying or look like I’m trying to check off a box, which I’m not. But I also want to show them that I have hours.”

A:  You have previous hours and Global Brigades is obviously a big organization. Whatever little shadowing you had at the ER is good. The fact that you have that is going to help with whatever little bit of hours you can get.

“With COVID, schools are aware of the lack of clinical experience and shadowing and the adjustments that they are needing to make.”Click To Tweet

I just had a conversation with a Director of Admissions at a DO school and that was the question that I brought up to her. I asked how they’re evaluating students who are coming forward, not only in the last application cycle but also this current application cycle for 2021-2022. All these students are going to have chunks of time missing from their application. And she said that is what it is and they’ll just figure it out. They’ll just have to make do.

[3:12] International Experiences as Shadowing

Q: “Is the Global Brigades shadowing looked at differently since it was in Nicaragua where I went?”

A: It depends on the school. If it’s just “shadowing,” then it’s okay. There are some schools that would specifically say shadowing only counts if it’s in the U.S. The University of Utah is one of those schools off the top of my head that specifically says that.

“With international experiences, the biggest concern is talking about things that you did that you wouldn't be allowed to do here in the States.”Click To Tweet

What medical schools are concerned about when it comes to international experiences is when you’ve done things that aren’t allowed here in the country. For example, you scrubbed in on a surgery and you helped. You are the first-assist in the operation. But you wouldn’t be a first-assist here in this country unless you’re a surgical tech in your day job.

So talking about those types of things for an international trip is definitely looked down upon but shadowing experiences are probably going to be safe to talk about.

Now, our student says she’s an EMT. She has lots of clinical hours and volunteering outside of medical environments as well so she’s well-rounded.

“Shadowing is the least important of the important things, and clinical experience, being the most important.”Click To Tweet

Clinical experience is the most important though because you’re putting yourself around patients. Shadowing gets super boring after a while because it’s just very passive. 

That being said, a Harvard medical student, who used to be on the admissions committee at Harvard, said that one of their red flags that puts a hard stop for them is lack of shadowing. So again, it’s going to depend on the school.

[5:50] DO Shadowing

Q: “For DO schools, do they like to see you shadow a DO? I don’t have any DO shadowing experience and I’m considering applying to DO schools.”

A: There are only two schools that “require” a letter from a DO which you obviously get from shadowing a DO. Ideally, you shadow one just so you can talk about it, but you don’t have to shadow a DO to apply to DO schools.

“You don't have to shadow a DO to apply to DO schools.”Click To Tweet

Again, it’s going to be up to the individual schools to understand that there’s a lack of shadowing across the board. Even more so with DO’s because there are far fewer DOs in this country than MDs. It is what it is.

What you can do as well is research what Osteopathic Medicine is, what it entails, what OMT is, and be able to talk about those things and how they relate to you. So that when you apply, and you get an interview, or when there is a secondary question about Osteopathic Medicine, you’re able to talk about those things.

[7:03] Talking about Osteopathic Medicine in the Primary Application

Q: “Talking about those things in a primary application, are you going to have as many spots to talk about them?”

A: For a primary application, there really isn’t any spot to talk about it. The personal statement doesn’t need to be catered to Osteopathic Medicine. There aren’t going to be any extra questions on the AACOMAS to talk about Osteopathic Medicine other than in the activity section if you have shadowed a deal.


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