How and When to Get Shadowing Experience

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OPM 207: How and When to Get Shadowing Experience

Session 207

What is the best way to find shadowing experiences? Is there an ideal time to get all of your shadowing done?

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:11] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’m a former high school science teacher who left the classroom to pursue medicine. I have a BA in Political Science and an MS in Education. After completing a policy fellowship and teaching for four years, I knew that both education and politics were not for me. 

I considered medicine at various stages in my life but didn’t want to pursue it until I was fully sure. My life experience has taught me that I wanted to work with people in need and help them achieve their full potential. I believe that through medicine and education, I can treat and heal patients so that they can achieve their goals and live the lives they want. 

A year and a half ago, I began volunteering at the front desk of a major hospital and in transition to the ED while working full-time as a teacher. I started off as a science major in college and had some AP science credits awarded by my undergraduate institution so I was not starting from scratch with prerequisites.

I also completed about 24 science credits at a community college and took the MCAT. My undergrad GPA is 3.8 and current GPA from my prereqs is 4.0 and my MCAT is 511. I started a postbac this summer at a university and currently enrolled full-time in all upper-level science courses. I have about 250 volunteering hours right now.

My main concern is getting clinical experience and shadowing hours for the upcoming admissions cycle. I recently started volunteering with a hospice organization but have only done four hours so far. When I volunteered at the hospital, I didn’t have a ton of patient interaction. Also, I have only shadowed two doctors thus far, one being my dad. 

Today, I spent about three hours calling doctor’s offices and every single office told me they didn’t allow shadowing. I’m wondering, one, what is the most effective way to get permission to shadow? 

Two, does it look bad to get most of your shadowing and clinical experience in the six months before you apply? And three, should I not even worry about research and just focus on getting all A’s and a clinical experience?”

[03:22] Research and Clinical Experience

You shouldn’t worry about research. At this point, you have a lot of other things that you need to focus on.

'You don't need research to get into medical school.'Click To Tweet

Research won’t help you understand if becoming a physician is right for you.

[Related episode: How Much Clinical Experience Do I Need for Med School Apps?]

[03:55] Getting Permission to Shadow

We’re currently building, where we can help connect you with physicians around your area. Hopefully, it will be up and running soon and it will be ana amazing resource for students.

The best way to get permission to shadow is to keep calling and keep asking physicians if you can shadow them. Having a father who’s a physician gives you this access to other physicians so ask oyur dad if he knows any doctors that would allow you to shadow.

'Use the network that you have.'Click To Tweet

And for those who don’t have parents who are physicians or in healthcare, you likely have your own doctor so try to ask them if you can shadow them. Or if they knew anyone that would allow you to shadow.

Finding someone to shadow takes a lot of time and is a lot of work. It helps to have those connections.

[Related episode: How To Effectively Shadow a Doctor as a Premed]

[05:35] Most of Shadowing/Clinical Experience 6 Months Before Application

It does look bad if you do most of your shadowing or clinical experience in the 6 months before you apply. But what can you do at this point? You could delay your application for a year but you don’t need to.

'Really focus on getting those experiences and really do a good job reflecting on those experiences as to why they have solidifed in your mind that you want to be a physician.'Click To Tweet

The problem is that you’ve gone down this path already seemingly convinced that you want to be a physician. And you haven’t had any kind of shadowing and clinical experience. It’s going to look bad.

It’s going to look like you’re going down this path because your dad is a doctor and so now you want to be a doctor. But again, it is what it is. It won’t probably hold you up from getting in but it may cause some admission committee members and some reviewers to scratch their had and maybe pass on you.

That being said, it only takes one acceptance to get into medical school so you will be okay.

[06:50] Final Thoughts

'You need to get that shadowing and clinical experience to prove to yourself that this is what you want.'Click To Tweet

You’ve been in a hospital but it sounds like more of administrative type of stuff. Hanging out on the front desk doesn’t really help. Get those experiences and reflect them on your personal statement, extracurricular activity descriptions, and your interviews.

Learn how to tell your story better by grabbing a copy of The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement.


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