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Does it matter who you shadow?

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doctorrr-t

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I've been emailing a few alumni from my school who are in various health professions. I was just wondering if there are areas that are preferred or not preferred by adcoms? I'm currently interested in surgery so I've been specifically targeting surgeons, but I just wanted to know if there were other factors I should take into consideration.
 

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OR shadowing is fun but not what we are looking for. We want you to see the nitty gritty of longitudinal care (FM, IM, peds, even psych). 40 hours is plenty.

Is 50 hours in-patient/out-patient neurology sufficient for shadowing? I also have about 5 hours in EM.
 

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Do you have enough experience of outpatient neurology to discuss it in your W/A section?

Yes! I would say those first shadowing experiences really set the tone for why I wanted to get into medicine, so I talk about it in W/A and a little bit in my PS.
 
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doctorrr-t

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OR shadowing is fun but not what we are looking for. We want you to see the nitty gritty of longitudinal care (FM, IM, peds, even psych). 40 hours is plenty.
I was thinking more along the lines of shadowing a surgeon in the OR and outside of the OR, like a physician with his own private practice. Would that be valuable experience? Also, how much time do applicants usually spend on shadowing each physician/specialties and how many different physicians/specialties would you recommend students shadow?
 

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I was thinking more along the lines of shadowing a surgeon in the OR and outside of the OR, like a physician with his own private practice. Would that be valuable experience? Also, how much time do applicants usually spend on shadowing each physician/specialties and how many different physicians/specialties would you recommend students shadow?
It may be fascinating but we really want to make sure that you understand what the day to day life of most physicians is like. Odds are it will be yours one day if you are successful in being admitted.
As long as you have a sufficient amount of shadowing in primary care, 40 hours is plenty
 
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I've been emailing a few alumni from my school who are in various health professions. I was just wondering if there are areas that are preferred or not preferred by adcoms? I'm currently interested in surgery so I've been specifically targeting surgeons, but I just wanted to know if there were other factors I should take into consideration.

typically I encourage students to have two shadowing experiences that are different from each other. If you have a strong area of interest, definitely do that as one of them. But yeah, adcoms (and the majority of physicians) tend to be over proportionally in primary care specialties and the such, so make sure to have some experience in that area.

I did 30 hours shadowing an internal medicine doctor who works in the obvs unit and another 30 hours shadowing NICU rounds.

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LizzyM

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The majority of physicians are in primary care. The majority of service delivery is done in ambulatory care setting. Shadow a primary care doctor for at least 1-2 days.
 
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jhmmd

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You need at least 50-100 shadowing hours. Make sure that you shadow at least one PCP. For the remaining hours, it doesn't really matter, as long as you show that you learned something from your shadowing experiences. Try to write down what you learned that day when you get home, so that you can extrapolate for your essay, secondaries, and the work/activities section of your application. It may make such an impression on you that you doubt you'll forget, but things happen (CO-VID, for example)/time goes by, and details fade. Make sure to write it down, and send the doctors a thank you email.
 

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Do you have to shadow a PCP though ? I have 100 hours of shadowing a Plastic Surgeon and a Cardiovascular Surgeon and IDK if I need to shadow more because it seems too excessive. I already know what I'm getting into because I have shadowed in the OR and when they did regular check ups with their patients too.
 
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Goro

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It doesn't seem to be lethal to lack PC shadowing, based upon the success stories of SDNers.

It's OK to be interested in a particular specialty, but have shadowing in that. Lest you look starry-eyed.

Be careful to avoid the "uber specialty or bust" mindset.
 
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Goro

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Thanks Goro, I have a good amount of shadowing in that specialty.

What is an appropriate way to I guess phrase that you are intersted but not "uber speciality or bust" kinda guy? I tried to avoid talking about my interest in this specialty and I think it kinda hurt me cause schools told me that they weren't sure what I wanted to do as a doctor. I kept saying I'm open minded, so I think there is a downside to that too in that you look like you have no clue. Would it be appropriate to say "I've done a lot of shadowing and research in X field and am interested in it. However, I will keep an open mind and realize my interests can change."
That would be fine.
 
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doctorrr-t

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Shadowing is not a requirement. It is a proxy for making sure you know what you are getting into.
Surgical fields (and EM) are not what you are most likely to practice.

Is it recommended/expected that applicants obtain a recommendation letter from at least one physician they shadowed? If so, wouldn't a couple of days/hours of shadowing not be enough for them to construct a detailed recommendation letter?
 

doctorrr-t

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That would be fine.

Is it recommended/expected that applicants obtain a recommendation letter from at least one physician they shadowed? If so, wouldn't a couple of days/hours of shadowing not be enough for them to construct a detailed recommendation letter?
 

LunaOri

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I think it would be most helpful to do longitudinal shadowing with one physician (like once a week for several months, or once a month for a year) and have that doc write a letter for you. I can't imagine being able to get a useful letter of recommendation from someone who didn't really know you!
BTW, my offspring did not shadow in PC, and was accepted to medical school.
 

jhmmd

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You also run the risk of annoying the physician. Ask them when you can shadow again w/out trying to plan it all out months in advance, and play it by ear. Just my $.02
 

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Is it recommended/expected that applicants obtain a recommendation letter from at least one physician they shadowed? If so, wouldn't a couple of days/hours of shadowing not be enough for them to construct a detailed recommendation letter?

Buy access to the MSAR (worth every penny) and check out the requirements for applications to each school. Most schools, I dare say, don't require a physician letter. Most letters from docs you wil have shadowed won't be very informative. At best they'll say you were clean and neat, showed up on time, were attentive and asked good questions. :sleep:
 
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gyngyn

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Is it recommended/expected that applicants obtain a recommendation letter from at least one physician they shadowed? If so, wouldn't a couple of days/hours of shadowing not be enough for them to construct a detailed recommendation letter?
I wish I never had to waste another minute reading a "physician" letter.
Only a small handful of MD schools want a clinical letter. Apparently they consider a physician ok.
Shadowing letters are especially useless.

In contrast, DO schools love a DO letter.
 
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evo512

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It may be fascinating but we really want to make sure that you understand what the day to day life of most physicians is like. Odds are it will be yours one day if you are successful in being admitted.
As long as you have a sufficient amount of shadowing in primary care, 40 hours is plenty

I shadowed back to back night shifts with a trauma surgeon fellow. On the second day I did experience patient care during rounds in the ICU. I also spent time in the ER watching patients get received. Is that good? If not what areas should I be shooting for when I shadow someone else?
 

evo512

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I wish I never had to waste another minute reading a "physician" letter.
Only a small handful of MD schools want a clinical letter. Apparently they consider a physician ok.
Shadowing letters are especially useless.

In contrast, DO schools love a DO letter.

The same surgeon I shadowed, I interviewed about the entire medical field almost a year ago. He was the one that actually recommended SDN to me. He knows many aspects of my college career as of now, and was helping me formulate some of my basic MD entrance interview questions. Would he be a good person to get a letter of rec from?
 

LunaOri

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The same surgeon I shadowed, I interviewed about the entire medical field almost a year ago. He was the one that actually recommended SDN to me. He knows many aspects of my college career as of now, and was helping me formulate some of my basic MD entrance interview questions. Would he be a good person to get a letter of rec from?
Yes, if you continue to speak with him and he knows you. You need to spend enough time with him that he knows you well enough to write a letter that is individual and believable.
 

gyngyn

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The same surgeon I shadowed, I interviewed about the entire medical field almost a year ago. He was the one that actually recommended SDN to me. He knows many aspects of my college career as of now, and was helping me formulate some of my basic MD entrance interview questions. Would he be a good person to get a letter of rec from?
Only a tiny number of MD schools request a "clinical" letter.
Physician shadowing letters are among the least useful!

DO's do love a DO letter, though.
 

gyngyn

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The same surgeon I shadowed, I interviewed about the entire medical field almost a year ago. He was the one that actually recommended SDN to me. He knows many aspects of my college career as of now, and was helping me formulate some of my basic MD entrance interview questions. Would he be a good person to get a letter of rec from?
Please don't. The only reason to get a "physician" letter is if you have a committee that requires it or you live in AZ or are applying to RFU (or Utah...?).
Physicians are apparently incapable of writing an objective letter. We are not objective. We love everyone...and everyone knows it!
 
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evo512

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Please don't. The only reason to get a "physician" letter is if you have a committee that requires it or you live in AZ or are applying to RFU (or Utah...?).
Physicians are apparently incapable of writing an objective letter. We are not objective. We love everyone...and everyone knows it!
I have not checked if USUHS does or not. But I plan to pursue a career in military medicine either by way of HPSP or USUHS. I know from seeing many friends go into the military and having family members, it is a lot about who you know. This surgeon in particular is active duty military and also applying to be faculty on clinical rotations for USUHS. Does that change anything or would it be even worse since he might become faculty?
 

gyngyn

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I have not checked if USUHS does or not. But I plan to pursue a career in military medicine either by way of HPSP or USUHS. I know from seeing many friends go into the military and having family members, it is a lot about who you know. This surgeon in particular is active duty military and also applying to be faculty on clinical rotations for USUHS. Does that change anything or would it be even worse since he might become faculty?
I just checked the MSAR and USUHS is one of the schools that requests a "clinical" letter. That being the case, this person should fill the bill.

This is a good time for a Public Service Announcement. The MSAR describes the exact number of letters required by each school as well as the types of letters preferred. All applicants should have ready access to the MSAR in order to meet the specific requirements of every school to which they plan to apply!
 
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LizzyM

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This is a good time for a Public Service Announcement. The MSAR describes the exact number of letters required by each school as well as the types of letters preferred. All applicants should have ready access to the MSAR in order to meet the specific requirements of every school to which they plan to apply!

The cost of access to MSAR will pay for itself if you avoid applying to one school you should not have applied to.
 
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