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How many hours should I shadow?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by zachjm2, Feb 28, 2010.

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  1. zachjm2

    zachjm2

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    I'm going to start trying to shadow soon, most likely with a general practitioner and an anesthesiologist. I was wondering how many hours I should shadow with each or if I should only shadow one.
  2. plauto

    plauto

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    While some shadowing is needed and it's beneficial in general, I think it's probably way overrated in the premed community. I would think that 10/20 hours tops are more than enough, but hopefully somebody with more experience on the subject will chime in. I personally had 0 hours of shadowing when I applied but a lot of clinical volunteering.
  3. Pedie Packs

    Pedie Packs Alpha Male

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    If you have the opportunity... shadow a physician in the family / close family friend for 2 weeks over the summer, all day long, to get a real feel for what the physician lifestyle is like. I did this and it was much more beneficial than showing up for a few hours from time to time.

    Other than this, I would advise you to shadow as many different specialities as you can get your hands on. It was a lot of fun for me personally (seeing different interactions, surgeries, etc.) and my interviewers all commented on my extensive shadowing in a positive way. 10-20 hours (tops) should be pretty good for each doctor. Find 1-2 physicians / specialties you are really drawn to and keep up the shadowing so you can build a relationship with that physician, and he/she will be happy to write you a nice LOR.
  4. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    General SDN wisdom is to shadow 40-100 hours and have 200-500 hours of clinical experience total. Shadowing one physician for more than 1-2 days/shifts is not really worthwhile. You want breadth when shadowing. Also, no LORs from shadowed docs.
  5. Pedie Packs

    Pedie Packs Alpha Male

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    Interesting...

    What's the reasoning behind this?
  6. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    They have nothing to write about, lol. LORs are primarily used to find out what you are like as a person (from another's perspective). They focus on things such as your accomplishments, how you work on a team, how you relate to others, what you bring to the table for medical school, your academic ability, evidence of your goals (i.e., supporting your PS), etc. Someone who has simply had you shadow them for a few days (or even weeks) really has no basis upon which to write such a letter. This is akin to asking a prof in a 200-person lecture (who has never or hardly ever actually met you and probably wouldn't remember your name to greet you in the hall -- rule of thumb on that would be if they know your name well enough to say "hi, [name]" in the hall or when they run into you elsewhere, they're probably a safe bet -- and if they approach you, it probably means they really like you...) to write such a letter. Often these people will write one if asked but it will be extremely general and an adcom is going to see right through it. In other words, such a letter might be "accepted" but it almost certainly will not paint you in a light even near that of the LOR from a research advisor, clinical supervisor, employer (in certain cases), upper division course (small class) professor, or professor for whom you TA'd.
  7. teenmachinery1

    teenmachinery1

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    the university of washington:

    Ideally, one should spend at least 40 hours shadowing one or more physicians to develop an understanding of the physician-patient relationship and the joys and frustrations that doctors deal with daily. Extenuating circumstances in an applicant’s background are considered when reviewing these factors.

    3. If you are trying to get 40 hours of shadowing but you haven't gotten there by the time you submit your application, what should you do?

    You need to make it known to us. Say that you are set up to shadow with this person this many times and put that somewhere on your application so that we see it. If we do not see it, we don’t know it. If you make it easy for us then it will work out for you.

    http://uwmedicine.washington.edu/Ed...ps-for-Success/Pages/Physician-Shadowing.aspx
  8. morning

    morning butane in my veins

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    How do people who only take the pre-reqs manage to get a LOR if they don't take upper division courses?
  9. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    "Also, no LORs from shadowed docs"

    I have heard the exact opposite of this from my pre-medical adviser, and from the doctor that I have spent hours shadowing. He regularly allows people to shadow him and also writes letters of recommendation (my family friend who followed him got into UNC last year w/ a LOR from him). The whole 200-500 hours of clinical experience is also not true. Get some experience shadowing and some experience volunteering and you will be fine (if your sGPA, cumulative GPA, and MCAT are competitive).

    Don't let people scare you on here OP
  10. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    Most take at least 1 upper division. If not, you take what you can get. Most successful applicants, though, have almost certainly developed some relationships w/ profs. It's simply easier to develop good relationships w/ profs from smaller classes. It's also noteworthy that you can get LORs from research advisors/PIs and clinical supervisors. (The former for a science/non-science faculty LOR the latter, usually an optional but very valuable LOR.) Note I didn't say you won't get one w/o the prof knowing you fairly well. I simply said your LOR won't be nearly as strong. If all the prof has to work with is his/her gradebook then all it takes is simple logic (and knowledge of what LORs are generally about and/or what an adcom hopes to gain from an LOR) to know that the prof isn't going to be able to fulfill expectations very well. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to have someone with minimal/no knowledge of you write a letter to a school about you.
  11. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    I've only heard of one school that specifies they want you to have 500 hours of clinical experience. Usually 1.5 years with weekly partial shifts is enough (totally ~150 hours). A year should be the minimum (as I recall LizzyM saying). We see an occasional post by someone who claims to have only three months, or none, and they still get an acceptance, but they are outliers (and who knows what the whole story might be).

    For shadowing, some schools don't regard it at all. Some are happy with a few days worth. Some really like multiple specialty experience. and at some it depends on who reads and scores your primary application as they use their own opinion rather than a guideline. The problem is, you don't know which school is which. Your job is to have your application appeal to the broadest possible number of schools so you'll get maximal consideration. I think that 60-80 hours split among two-three specialties, of which one is primary care, is enough. Though you'll see some reporting hundreds of hours accumulated.
  12. J DUB

    J DUB Watch my TAN walk!! Lifetime Donor

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    I would shoot for about 25hrs each doc for a total of 50hrs.

    I would also recommend getting in as much shadowing as possible to get a better look at the various types of docs out there. It helped me in my interviews that I shadowed 8-9 different specialities for over 100hrs.
  13. deuce924

    deuce924

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    I think the reason many Adcom's don't care about the amount of shadowing hours is because they really have nothing to go back and check the accuracy of hours reporters. Sure they could call each physician you have shadowed but they already have enough going on.

    With that said, I think it is more about the quality of the experience than the quantity of hours.
  14. J DUB

    J DUB Watch my TAN walk!! Lifetime Donor

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    And in general, get LORs from people that know you well enough to write a strong LOR for you.
  15. chicubsfan

    chicubsfan

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    I agree. I had about 3 days shadowing total when I applied this cycle (pretty successfully, btw) - I think it is more important to have some kind of insight into the profession than it is to have X number of hours. Make sure you really talk to the doctors you are shadowing between patients or at the end of the day and find out as much as you can about their training/daily lives/what they like and don't like about their jobs/why they picked their specialty... And if you can remember any particular patients or stories, maybe jot them down for later in your PS/interviews.
  16. flip26

    flip26

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    I only took the pre reqs, and my 2 science letters came from profs in those classes. Knowing I would need these letters, I got to know the profs in class and at office hours.
  17. JJMrK

    JJMrK J to the J Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    In general, I agree with this.
  18. flip26

    flip26

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    I totally agree with this, but there are some schools that expect at least some shadowing, so it is smart to do at least some...but no need to do hundreds of hours of shadowing - seems to me that 40 to 50 hours is more than enough.

    I would have to add it up, but I think I did something like 50 or 60 hours spread out over 5 or 6 different types of docs. But I had approx 500 hours of clinical volunteering, too - and that is probably overkill in and of itself - but I felt it would more than compensate for any perceived lack of shadowing hours.
  19. mrdrdrjp

    mrdrdrjp Ph.D in Bastardology

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    i know this is a dumb question but what exactly will qualify as clinical experience?
  20. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    [​IMG]
  21. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-4

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    Or you could just answer the question.

    The answer of which is generally a no.
  22. J DUB

    J DUB Watch my TAN walk!! Lifetime Donor

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    Patient contact....not just filing paperwork
  23. 298609

    298609 stimulus package

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    My pre med committee actually requires a MD LOR (or DO if you're applying to DO schools) in order to write the composite letter.

    and unless you're getting one from your PCP....
  24. Geekchick921

    Geekchick921 Holy schnikes, I'm a 4th year! Moderator Emeritus

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    As LizzyM puts it, if you're close enough to smell patients, then it's a clinical experience.
  25. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    500 hours of clinical experience? :laugh:
  26. vandyfootball

    vandyfootball

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    wow, thats it? I had 400 hours of shadowing as a high school student. As an Undergraduate, I plan on shadowing another 600 hours. Most of my family friends/relatives are doctors, so over breaks(when I am back home) I spend a couple of hours a day at their offices learning and observing.
  27. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    Umm...why? Get some actual clinical experience.

    Which makes sense but it should be from someone who's actually seen you work, not someone you've shadowed. That's what clinical experience is for... an MD should be around wherever you get that experience.


    For some schools, yes. That's only 12 mos at 10 hrs/wk. You could actually do it in 1 summer (full-time).
  28. zachjm2

    zachjm2

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    That is an insane amount of hours of clinical experience. If I did that, I would never see my friends or do anything other than school. I would think that medical schools would like to see that you have a life and that you are a well rounded person. I am going to go for around 25 like some have suggested. I have 100 hours of clinical experience as a hospital volunteer.
  29. extravagnat

    extravagnat

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    I shadowed one doc for only 20 hrs, and I'm already in. I didn't ask for a rec letter because I didn't do anything; I just simply observed. I think 20 is more than enough; 500 hrs is just insane.
  30. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    We're talking 500 hours of clinical experience, not 500 hours of shadowing. It all depends upon the school. 500 is a figure from one of the top clinical institutions and was first implemented by an administrator at the AAMC (when he was a dean of admissions). 20 hrs of clinical is unlikely to be acceptable anywhere. For shadowing, I'd generally suggest 40-100 hours. The other 200-450 hours of clinical experience ought to be direct pt contact/responsibility (e.g., EMT, ER Tech, clinical volunteering, etc.).
  31. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    I promise that no school in the country looks down upon someone who does not have 200-500 hours of clinical experience. That is like working a full time job for a whole summer. What about people who work other jobs at Starbucks, or bus tables? Not everyone can get training and find jobs as an EMT, or a tech. Take shadowing and hospital volunteering and try to get 50-100 hours combined, you will be fine at 99% of all medical schools.
  32. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    I can promise you some do. And that comes directly from the dean and assoc. dean of admissions of one such school. Since there is more than 1 such school and <200 (incl osteopathic) to apply to, "99%" is simply false. Additionally, it is crucial to be able to discuss your experience. Working the equivalent of <1 week (FTE) is a pretty lame (hardly even laughable) joke of an experience. Many applicants take a gap year and this is one of the reasons. Clinical experience is a crucial element to your application. It becomes even more critically important if you don't have absolutely perfect stats everywhere else.

    Btw, you don't need EMT, CNA, MA, EKG, etc., to work in a clinical setting. You can work jobs like mental health tech or residential counselor (hands out meds, CPR/FA certified at many places) with literally 0 formal training (they train you on the job). Those kinds of positions are going to give you a lot more talk about in an interview than will a measly 100 hrs volunteering at some hospital changing urine-stained bed sheets or pointing pts to the ED at some desk in the hospital lobby day in and day out.

    If you can't swing 10 hrs/wk to volunteer or work somewhere along w/ your school schedule, tell me: how do you expect to make it through medical school? I wish I were kidding, but 10 hrs/wk is nothing. Your UG schedule doesn't even compare to med school from talking w/ current and past med students (even my dad would say that and he went to med school several decades ago when they were barely starting to understand half the stuff they teach you now). My undergraduate schedule sr yr (pulling 21 units + practicing music a good 10-20 hrs/wk + 35 hr/wk job + 10 hr/wk internship + training/supervising student leaders) didn't even compare to med school and I still managed to hang out with friends quite a bit and go on day trips with friends on occasion. Sorry, I don't buy the "1/4-time volunteering is just too much" excuse. It's not. And if you split it over 2 years (starting sophomore year) it'd be a mere 5 hrs/wk and you'd still be ready to apply end of jr yr.

    Getting in w/ <100 hrs of clinical experience is kind of like getting in w/ <3.0 GPA. Is it possible? Sure! Is it likely? Not really. The whole package is what counts so we're going to see outliers on both sides but low clinical experience is certainly not going to make gaining admission to medical school any easier.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  33. dokein

    dokein

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    In my opinion it is not necessary to do any periodic (e.g. weekly) sort of thing to show "commitment". I didn't (ZERO hours this way). Show commitment another way. There are some schools that evaluate how many hours you spent daydreaming at a hospital front desk on a weekly basis*, but what they're really evaluating is how much time you're willing to waste. I don't see this as a positive trait, but rather a negative one.

    Shadowing past 15h/field or 100h total is insane. You go in early, spend a full day with them, and maybe come back for any special cases that they tell you about, and you'll have a sense of the field. If you shadow 200h then you are either wasting 100h not learning very much**, or so slow in the uptake that it's questionable whether you should be a doctor or not.

    *obv if you have a meaningful experience that you enjoy or learn from this sentence is not a dig at you.
    ** obv if you have a unique relationship which allows for more advanced insights or involvement this sentence is not a dig at you.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  34. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    I would agree. Actually, I think the non-"regular" way is probably preferable as it makes you different. Also, I think some of the most valuable experiences are often the most overlooked by premeds b/c they aren't the obvious "shadow a surgeon" or "volunteer in the ER" experiences (which is one reason they are better -- other depts are more inviting to premeds b/c they get fewer of them, so they may be more likely to be sort of "excited" about giving a future doctor his/her "first taste" of medicine).
  35. dokein

    dokein

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    :D Ahahaha sorry for the edit.
  36. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    haha, that's funny. I must have caught you right as you deleted it! lol. (Especially since it didn't even say you edited your post!) You want your quote deleted? :D
  37. flip26

    flip26

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    Promise? 99 percent?

    You need to consider your competition: the market place of applicants determines what is enough, not you. Your 50 to 100 hours combined for shadowing and clinical volunteering is on the low side of everything I have ever read on this subject.
  38. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    Harvard Med: http://hms.harvard.edu/admissions/default.asp?page=selection
    where is the 600 hour requirement?

    John Hopkins: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/admissions/apps.html
    again where is this minimum hour commitment?

    Anyone can point to a "certain school where I know the dean of admissions" as proof, that is not sufficient. How much wait does this next point of my argument hold? I know 3 people who got into medical schools with no shadowing....very very convincing. Find me a website where it gives these very inflated clinic hours?...please?

    As many others on this thread have said you are wrong, so do not bash me and tell me what I can and can not "swing." You have no clue about me or what I do with my time, so please refrain from being ignorant.

    And flip26, don't lecture to me either, again find proof behind your post rather than telling me something so obvious as: OMG I am competing against other applicants!!!! I had no clue breh. I'll be just fine thanks :)
  39. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    lol.... I would write a response here but the truth is you haven't really made a point to argue against. :laugh:

    Btw, n=3 does not even come close to significant. Looking at the data, I know of over 300 times that many people who got in with less than a 2.5 GPA, so I guess getting a good GPA doesn't really matter when applying to medical school either.
  40. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    did you read my argument mate? the point was, that saying "I know this admissions person who wants 600 hours" or "I know three people who haven't shadowed at all" is ridiculous and has no basis in fact. I was not making a serious argument by using the fact that 3 of my friends didn't shadow.......just as you "knowing" an admissions person preferences does not make this 200 hours minimum a fact.

    You can easily prove me wrong, find any literature on a medical school website that says what your argument does? There is none, and that is why you decided to take the preschool approach and say that I never made a point....hm?

    1 last thing...actually read my post this time, I don't think anyone reading my last post actually thought that my 3 friends was good evidence...except you, good luck on verbal reasoning, :)
  41. flip26

    flip26

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    Crash and burn, baby.

    I will check back with you next year when you are crying in your beer, along with all the other applicants who didn't play the game.

    Not doing sufficient hours of volunteer and shadowing ECs has to be the single stupidest thing any premed can do to torpedo their chances.
  42. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    says the person who has posted over 4,000 times on a online forum, you could have been using these hours to shadow...you're the inspiration for my new signature, see you in a year buddy (probably more like 2 cause i'm a soph), by then you should be up to 8,000 posts!!!!! I never made this personal until you both talked about my work ethic and chances...

    by the way, i am a transporter at a hospital, so i work 16 hours a week there....i'll be just find, worry about you're own application (isn't there some kind of saying about compensating for inadequate things by pointing out others faults...?)
  43. flip26

    flip26

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    So you are the ultimate gunner. You tell people that they only need 50 hours combined vol and shadowing, while you are knocking down 16 hours a week. Why don't you practice what you preach?

    Oh, and dude: I already got accepted - read my signature...
  44. Renaissance Man

    Renaissance Man Saving the World

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    Everyone says that you need roughly a 3.6ish or a 30+ on the MCAT, doesn't mean you strive for only these goals. I know what I roughly need to get into medical school, does not mean that I strive for the minimum or pass up a job that I got because my mom is a nurse and I need the cash.

    All I was saying is that the 600 hour number was ridiculous and no medical school is gonna say "i only see 100 hours (the number i suggested) of clinical work, we can't accept you"

    cool you got in, and you don't have a signature to read, there's nothing below your posts breh...when you fail out cause you posted your 21,000 post on SDN i'll laugh
  45. duress

    duress

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    The fact that people here find doctors that let them do so many hours shocks me. The relatively few (we're talking like 2-3 out of 30+) doctors that have agreed to let me shadow them set a very minimal cap on hours and rightfully act like the whole thing is a huge burden to them. On top of that, I totally feel like a terrible person for prying into the lives of patients for my own sole benefit, especially beyond that point where I can say "alright, I've seen this specialty" and believe me that seems to come really quickly. I agree with whoever in this thread is applying the words 'overkill' to shadowing hours in the triple digits or high double.
  46. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    Umm... you've said so many idiotic things on this thread, I honestly don't know when you're being sarcastic at this point. Sorry, wish I did.

    As for the VR.... I consistently score in the 99th percentile on verbal (by every standardized test taken to date) but thanks for the concern. I really do appreciate it.

    As for you, I never questioned your chances. I responded to another person's post about being unable to do 10 hrs/wk volunteering and you apparently internalized what I said, despite the fact that the other person's quote was clearly above my response. That having been said, perhaps you are feeling like that post applies to you? It sure does sound like it with how defensive you were to a post that wasn't even directed at you! :laugh:

    By the looks of this last post, appears you're a bit of a gunner, dude. Chill a bit. Why the desire to lead other posters astray as they work toward med school? You really don't even deserve a response except insofar as you're trolling this forum and it's not right that others receive bad information because you feel like disseminating bad advice.
  47. apumic

    apumic Oracle of the Sheet

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    Please read the thread and know what is being discussed before responding. By your post it is obvious you have not read the thread beyond a couple of posts in. We are not talking about 100+ hrs shadowing. 40-100 hrs shadowing with up to 500 hrs total clinical experience. You should not be doing said clinical experience for your "own sole benefit." It should also benefit the pts and staff.
  48. surftheiop

    surftheiop

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    CofC

    You have to realize alot of folks on this forum are from the North East which means they are massively neurotic ;)

    Not everyone here will have the good fortune of most likely going to school at MUSC!
  49. plauto

    plauto

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    x2. In many university hospitals people who are not personnel are not allowed in procedure rooms so that imposes a big limit on hours. Many docs (both in private practice and in teaching hospitals) also don't like non-personnel around patients for many reasons. I am surprised some people can find so many docs open to letting them do so many hours. Other than some general lifestyle things, I doubt you can learn anything health-related anyway as a premed. That's another reason why I said shadowing is overrated.
  50. duress

    duress

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    There is an ongoing argument here about the number of hours to shadow. Someone in this thread strongly implied that 400 hours was a piece of cake (of which you and I both disagreed). But further, I think even the upper range quoted in this thread is overkill. How is shadowing is beneficial to anyone else? It's watching a doctor for my own benefit. How does it benefit the staff? I'm mostly getting in their way. Clinical is different, of course.

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