Quantcast

Experience shadowing in Japan?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

Gekkusu

New Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
1

Members don't see this ad.
As the title says, I'm looking for anyone with experience shadowing - or volunteer work involving patients - in Japan. I'll be in the country for another year and a half and I'd like to get more hours in. I did a quick search but didn't see anything detailing how anyone went about it.

A little bit about my situation: I speak conversational Japanese and read higher (between JLPT N2 and N1). I live in a small city but can get to Tokyo on weekends. I'm doing research and will be making calls, but I'd love to here specifics from someone who has done it as well.

I have about 20 hours of ER shadowing from my college days (despite a liberal arts degree) but I feel I could use a lot more. I will also be doing some volunteering with orphanages and possibly translation for a medical volunteer program, but from what I've seen I need a lot more hours around patients.

Why do I feel that way? Liberal arts degree (3.82 GPA at over 130 credit hours at least), expecting a very average MCAT score, low US shadowing hours at the moment, and my pre-reqs will be done via distance learning while I'm here (it won't show on my transcript, but I feel I have to be upfront about it at least for the sake of explaining my non-trad background).

Thanks for reading!
 
Last edited:

futuremdforme

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Joined
May 12, 2013
Messages
887
Reaction score
845
I haven't done it but I know someone else who did. This person combined it with US shadowing on their application (Breaking it down in the description) and talked about similarities in what they observed. My best advice on how to arrange it is general and not Japan-specific: use your contacts to ask if anyone knows any doctors who would let you observe them. I'm not convinced that shadowing is common in Japan so be prepared to explain what it is and what the goal is, and to show that you do not intend to get in their way.
 

Law2Doc

5K+ Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Messages
30,878
Reaction score
10,062
While this may make for interesting fodder in an essay, as "shadowing" it won't be looked at the same way. Shadowing is meant to help You know what you are getting into. Non US experiences, while culturally interesting, are often so dissimilar from how medicine is practiced here in the states that the shadowing will tell you nothing of what to expect.

But more troubling is your suggestion that you plan to apply at a point when you don't think you'll have a great chance of success. Don't do this -- Avoid being a reapplicant. You only want to go through this process once, you weaken your chances otherwise. As a reapplicant you'd need to show substantial improvement, so the hurdle is higher. If you need a year to substantially make your application better, presumably by retaking the MCAT and more US ECs, then absolutely take a year -- never take the approach of throwing crap at a wall and hoping it will stick. This is a huge mistake too many people on here make.

So personally I wouldn't bother with Japanese shadowing except if you need a cool experience for your essays. And I sure wouldn't apply at a point where you deem your application too weak, your MCAT too low. Sit out the cycle and put your best foot forward, with all your ducks in a row. One shot, one kill.
 

Gekkusu

New Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
While this may make for interesting fodder in an essay, as "shadowing" it won't be looked at the same way. Shadowing is meant to help You know what you are getting into. Non US experiences, while culturally interesting, are often so dissimilar from how medicine is practiced here in the states that the shadowing will tell you nothing of what to expect.

But more troubling is your suggestion that you plan to apply at a point when you don't think you'll have a great chance of success. Don't do this -- Avoid being a reapplicant. You only want to go through this process once, you weaken your chances otherwise. As a reapplicant you'd need to show substantial improvement, so the hurdle is higher. If you need a year to substantially make your application better, presumably by retaking the MCAT and more US ECs, then absolutely take a year -- never take the approach of throwing crap at a wall and hoping it will stick. This is a huge mistake too many people on here make.

So personally I wouldn't bother with Japanese shadowing except if you need a cool experience for your essays. And I sure wouldn't apply at a point where you deem your application too weak, your MCAT too low. Sit out the cycle and put your best foot forward, with all your ducks in a row. One shot, one kill.

That makes a lot of sense, thanks for the great advice. I'll still try to line something up - for my enjoyment and for fodder as you say - but I'll take another look at my timeline and hold off until I'm ready ready.

Anyone else have first- or second-hand experience?
 

Gekkusu

New Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
As a follow up to my question, I'd like to share my experiences so far searching for shadowing opportunities in Japan.

First of all, I e-mailed various clinics and hospitals in the Tokyo area that had English websites. I knew that some of the places had American-trained doctors and would be more familiar with the process, and for those that didn't at least I would be able to explain myself more easily in English. Unfortunately I received one e-mail saying it wasn't possible, one saying they had a program for current med students but not premed, one website said on their contact page that they had no opportunities, and I believe four haven't responded. No location stated that I would be able to shadow or volunteer.

While waiting for responses I reached out in my social network, and a friend who has been here for several years longer than me mentioned that he knew a few doctors and would contact them. The doctors had several questions, so my friend put me in direct contact with two doctors and a doctor's wife (although I haven't been able to reach her yet).

One doctor expressed that he would happily introduce me to the local healthcare system - details yet to be planned - and the other talked to his friend (a senior orthopedic surgeon) who enjoys mentoring and would like me to visit his outpatient office and operation room. Better yet, I won't have to travel to Tokyo as I had originally planned!

In short, if anyone is in a similar position as I am feel free to cold call / e-mail hospitals and clinics, but don't keep your hopes up. Your best bet, at least as I found, is to talk to someone who has been a part of the community for awhile and ask them to put you in contact with any friendly doctors that they know. Of course this is pretty similar to the standard advice of "use your network" that applies to shadowing domestically, but I just wanted to share my experience and clarify that it is definitely possible to do while living abroad.

Keep in mind that it probably doesn't hold nearly as much weight as shadowing in the U.S., if you want to do it for the sake of your application. Personally I'm doing this to get more perspective on international healthcare and different specialties of medicine.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Goldgym

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
Hi! Were you able to get in contact with a doctor during your time in Japan? I am currently in a similar situation. I am a NS&B major at Wesleyan University on the premed track but debating between applying to DO school or Chiropractic school. I would like to go to Japan, South Korea, or China to study accupuncture or shadow a doctor in traditional medicine.



As a follow up to my question, I'd like to share my experiences so far searching for shadowing opportunities in Japan.

First of all, I e-mailed various clinics and hospitals in the Tokyo area that had English websites. I knew that some of the places had American-trained doctors and would be more familiar with the process, and for those that didn't at least I would be able to explain myself more easily in English. Unfortunately I received one e-mail saying it wasn't possible, one saying they had a program for current med students but not premed, one website said on their contact page that they had no opportunities, and I believe four haven't responded. No location stated that I would be able to shadow or volunteer.

While waiting for responses I reached out in my social network, and a friend who has been here for several years longer than me mentioned that he knew a few doctors and would contact them. The doctors had several questions, so my friend put me in direct contact with two doctors and a doctor's wife (although I haven't been able to reach her yet).

One doctor expressed that he would happily introduce me to the local healthcare system - details yet to be planned - and the other talked to his friend (a senior orthopedic surgeon) who enjoys mentoring and would like me to visit his outpatient office and operation room. Better yet, I won't have to travel to Tokyo as I had originally planned!

In short, if anyone is in a similar position as I am feel free to cold call / e-mail hospitals and clinics, but don't keep your hopes up. Your best bet, at least as I found, is to talk to someone who has been a part of the community for awhile and ask them to put you in contact with any friendly doctors that they know. Of course this is pretty similar to the standard advice of "use your network" that applies to shadowing domestically, but I just wanted to share my experience and clarify that it is definitely possible to do while living abroad.

Keep in mind that it probably doesn't hold nearly as much weight as shadowing in the U.S., if you want to do it for the sake of your application. Personally I'm doing this to get more perspective on international healthcare and different specialties of medicine.
 
Top