Canadians think they have it much harder than their US counterparts when it comes to getting shadowing and clinical experience. It’s just not the case.
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[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“As a Canadian, I find it hard to relate to most of the premeds here because they’re all about shadowing MDs and DOs to get clinical experience. However, due to Canada’s patient privacy/ protection laws, it’s nearly impossible to get the same types of experience. The most we can do is volunteer but that usually involves holding doors, co-checks, or directing patients to places and that sort of thing.
I want to apply to Canadian and American MD schools but I feel like I won’t be competitive with US applicants because I lack the same shadowing experience. I’m open to hearing ideas.”
[01:50] Case Study: Canadian Applicant
This is actually a common thing that comes up from students in Canada. But I find this an excuse, which doesn’t hold a lot of weight.
I have helped Canadian students get into medical school. So I pulled up somebody’s application here to show the type of clinical experience that this student got before she applied to both Canadian and US medical schools. And apparently, she got into US medical schools.
This applicant volunteered at a stroke unit, comforting patients, recognizing signs of delirium, greeting patients, and talking to them. This is great clinical experience, more than just co-checks. As well, she volunteered as a research assistant for clinical research, conducting structured and semi-structured clinical interviews. She also puts medical observership, which means shadowing, which she did 20 hours a week for 14 weeks.
[03:15] Can’t You Shadow in Canada?
Students in Canada always say they can’t shadow in Canada because of the laws. But this is nothing new in the US either, which has Hippo laws with protect patients. Physicians use that excuse a lot as well as clinics and hospitals for students here in the US. So it’s not really a US versus Canada thing.
Instead, you haven’t tried hard enough to find something that would work. This can be solved if you make enough phone calls and if you send enough emails. If you try to connect with enough people, you will find a physician that will want to help you and allow you to shadow them.
So don’t blame the Canadian system on the lack of experience. I’ve talked to plenty of students who have gotten plenty of experience. They’ve just connected with the right people. They’ve made enough phone calls. They’ve done enough networking.
Again, send emails. Make phone calls. Get out there. And show your face. That’s how you get experience even in Canada, where supposedly it’s harder, but it’s not. It’s just different.
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