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First time shadowing questions

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FutureDoctorX-men

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Hi everyone,

I'm sorry if I'm posting again but I just received a super duper exciting news!!:happy:
After a year of searching and getting rejected, I finally found a physician whom I can shadow and I will be shadowing him this weekend. :soexcited:
He practices Emergency medicine and works in the ER.
Now my question is, what are some of the things that I should expect from this experience? This is my very first time shadowing and I really want to set a good first impression on him since Emergency medicine is a very intriguing field to me and it sparks my curiosity.

So here's my game plan so far:
  • Get there early with my srubs on
  • Bring a pen and a small pocket-size notebook
  • Follow him around and ask him some questions if, and only if, its the right time and its not too busy.
  • Send a thank you email at the end of the shadowing experience (I will be shadowing for two days straight so I plan on just sending him my thank you email after the Sunday shift).
I still feel like I'm missing somethings and I really don't know what kind of questions I should ask him...:thinking:
Can someone with prior experience and knowledge, please give me some of your wisdom (or a possible link to any article that I can read up on).

Thank you all in advance and Have a nice day!!
 

kfox926

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Every time that I have shadowed a physician, their policy has always been to dress business causal. You don't want to blend in as hospital staff, you're there strictly to observe and ask pertinent questions after the patient encounters.
You should ask meaningful questions about medicine (pay attention while your observing the physician with the patient and when it's a good time afterward, maybe while they are dictating notes, ask questions reflecting on what you observed.

An email is okay, however it's more personable to send a hand written thank you card, in my opinion.

Have fun!! Shadowing is very exciting and educational!
 
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Xavieous

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Congratulations on finding someone to shadow! I agree with kfox926, be mindful as you follow around the physician and ask questions that pertain to what he/she is doing without distracting them from their job. Remember, you are shadowing to see if you might want to do this career, so write down questions as they come up and ask when he/she is not busy but don't shy away from asking questions, be engaging. You will probably make the physicians day more interesting too, as they have done this shift a thousand times so you make it different. Enjoy yourself, and realize you will get tired by the end of each shift. I loved my shadowing experience with an ER physician, he let me help in a few procedures to give me a real taste and I remember it vividly even though it was years ago now!
 
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FutureDoctorX-men

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Every time that I have shadowed a physician, their policy has always been to dress business causal. You don't want to blend in as hospital staff, you're there strictly to observe and ask pertinent questions after the patient encounters.
You should ask meaningful questions about medicine (pay attention while your observing the physician with the patient and when it's a good time afterward, maybe while they are dictating notes, ask questions reflecting on what you observed.

An email is okay, however it's more personable to send a hand written thank you card, in my opinion.

Have fun!! Shadowing is very exciting and educational!
Thank you for your insight! And I will definitely pay close attention to his practice and try to ask meaningful questions. By the way, he actually told me that I can wear either business casual or scrubs but I do see the danger of wearing a scrub... Staff may mistake me for working there by accident...
I think that a written thank you card is a brilliant idea!
In fact, now that I think about it, I can go to the store after shadowing him, buy him a card, sign it and then give it to him after my shadowing the next day!
Thank you!!
 
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FutureDoctorX-men

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Congratulations on finding someone to shadow! I agree with kfox926, be mindful as you follow around the physician and ask questions that pertain to what he/she is doing without distracting them from their job. Remember, you are shadowing to see if you might want to do this career, so write down questions as they come up and ask when he/she is not busy but don't shy away from asking questions, be engaging. You will probably make the physicians day more interesting too, as they have done this shift a thousand times so you make it different. Enjoy yourself, and realize you will get tired by the end of each shift. I loved my shadowing experience with an ER physician, he let me help in a few procedures to give me a real taste and I remember it vividly even though it was years ago now!
Thank you for the congratulations and for your advice!!
I will be as engaging as I can be and also try to be proactive when asking questions.
I just have one more question to ask if you don't mind, how many hours should I shadow him? He works from 12pm-12am so 12hour shift and I'm not sure how long I should shadow him... I was thinking of maybe 8hours? Does that sound reasonable considering that its on a weekend?
 
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deleted812153

Are you supposed to write a formal thank-you note to those you shadow?
 
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AnatomyGrey12

A few things:

1- enjoy it. Shadowing is interesting and you can learn a lot.

2- questions are good, just be mindful of the timing.

3- I would just shadow for no more than 6 hours honestly.

4- wear business casual. If they want you in scrubs they will just have you wear the hospital ones. Also there is nothing wrong with wearing scrubs, you will almost never get mistaken as an employee and if you do all you do is say "sorry but I am just a student shadow." It's not like people will see someone in scrubs and ask you to put in a chest tube.

5- don't bring a pen and notebook. After you get home write stuff down, but don't be that one person who is carrying around a notebook.

6- thank you emails are great. You should try and shadow the same physician more than once to get a better feel of how things can change day to day, and being grateful will keep your foot in the door.

7-did I say have fun?
 
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deleted812153

Dear AnatomyGrey 12,

I would like to say thank you for the time and effort you took to answer my question.

Regards,

POTUS
 

kfox926

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I think doctors will just see them as super corny. A nice, quick thank you email is always good though.

The hand written thank you came as an idea from my advisor to make you stand out when everyone is sending emails. It makes you look more personable and it's more meaningful. But yes, emails are fine too. Just a thought.
 
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AnatomyGrey12

The hand written thank you came as an idea from my advisor to make you stand out when everyone is sending emails. It makes you look more personable and it's more meaningful. But yes, emails are fine too. Just a thought.

Trust me, they don't make you stand out. Being nice and personable makes you stand out. Now if that physician goes on to write you a LOR and you get accepted? Then write them a note
 
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austintr

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It's great that you have this opportunity and that you're proactively working to make it a good experience. I do want to mention a couple of points though.

-Be engaging, but not overly enthusiastic. This sounds simple, but there is a balance. The ED is full of people that don't have a sunny outlook on life. It's just what the job does to you. So just don't be over the top and extra bubbly if you can avoid it because it will annoy a lot of people, frankly.

-Try and get a read on the rooms and situations so you're not getting in the way, but not missing anything either. It's easy to say "oh I got to see someone do CPR today, it was so cool!" as a shadowing student, but keep in mind that there are countless other things going on and the staff gets "in the zone" so to speak. It's hard to describe, but I've seen shadowing students try too hard to help and end up being a huge hindrance more than once.

-That being said, don't neglect the nurses and ancillary staff. Talk a little bit with them too and if you have a chance to grab a blanket for one of them or something if the doc is just dictating or doing administrative stuff. Don't let them take advantage of your help, but you will stand out the wrong way if you put off the vibe that you're too good to help with a simple task here and there, especially because you'll be the least medically trained person in the department.

Hopefully I didn't come off too negative, just trying to give a little bit of realistic and practical advice. The ED can be a wonderful place to shadow or it can be really awful. Either way, good luck and have fun!
 
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Xavieous

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Thank you for the congratulations and for your advice!!
I will be as engaging as I can be and also try to be proactive when asking questions.
I just have one more question to ask if you don't mind, how many hours should I shadow him? He works from 12pm-12am so 12hour shift and I'm not sure how long I should shadow him... I was thinking of maybe 8hours? Does that sound reasonable considering that its on a weekend?

I think 8 hours is fine, if I remember my experience it was similar. I had a weekend, so Saturday and Sunday, and he had two 12 hour shifts. I went in now knowing how long to spend but trying for the 12 hours. I made it 8 hours the first day and was exhausted far beyond what I expected. I determined to go and do 8 hours no matter what the next day (although i was having my reservations because I was so beat!). I made it 8 hours on Sunday and was glad I did, it was a little bit easier and could feel the pattern much better that day.

I would recommend doing at least two 8 hour shifts, ideally 10 hours (only so you can say you shadowed a round 20 hours with an ER physician) but expect to be burnt out at the end of each day. Make sure you get some good sleep the nights before.

If you do plan on not doing the 12 hour shift, just say why (ideally a recurring excuse works well. Gonna have meals with family, would it be ok to leave at 5pm? Have an exam coming up and need a little time to study each night...etc). 12 hour shifts are long!

As for the card thing, it is true that your impression you give throughout the shadowing will be far more valuable than a card at the end. BUT, the card should be a continuity of how you presented yourself throughout the shadowing. If you came off as Hermonie Granger the whole time, the physician may expect a Granger card at the end, not a Ron Weasly bathroom paper with a scribbled 'thanks!' in it. I have cards in my office I've kept for years with thankyou's from things I've done for them and they responded back with gratitude.
 
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