JapaneseSakura

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Jan 6, 2010
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I really haven’t had a problem too much about doctors not allowing me to shadow because of HIPAA. I’ve shadowed one and I am actually shadowing another one. I've had one doctor told me no because of HIPAA and the parents will not be at the hospital to sign consent. My question is that, if aacomas know that some doctors are going to have a problem with that, why are they still allowing pre-med students to shadow doctors? I’m just saying and I am curious. I hope my comment doesn’t sound hostile or anything because I am not trying to.
 

mri5005

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Jul 22, 2010
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That is up to the individual doctor, not aacomas. Every shadowing experience I have ever been on has been approved by the doctor and patients that I have seen with him. Shadowing is crucial to determining whether you truly want to go into medicine. I think that one doctor couldn't think of a better excuse.
 
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JapaneseSakura

JapaneseSakura

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That is up to the individual doctor, not aacomas. Every shadowing experience I have ever been on has been approved by the doctor and patients that I have seen with him. Shadowing is crucial to determining whether you truly want to go into medicine. I think that one doctor couldn't think of a better excuse.

Oh no, what I mean was (I shouldn't have said aacomas, but medical entrance requirements in general and I am not sure who made shadowing a requirement.), why would they make it a requirement if some pre-med students are having trouble shadowing doctors because of HIPAA?

I agree, I respect the HIPAA regulations and it's used as an excuse for the most part. Is there a loophole of some sort that allows students to shadow?
 

swimchick

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Oct 24, 2008
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I found the best way for me to get around the HIPAA regulations was to do a formal volunteer program at a local hospital. I had to sign all of the HIPAA consent forms and they went on file. By doing a volunteer program, I was able to follow the docs around and really get involved with the patients, unless the patient specifically asked that I not be present (which really didn't happen often). What I learned is that patient info can't be divulged unless it relates to "P T O - payment, teaching, operations"...the way I look at it, shadowing is like teaching so, as long as you're following HIPAA regulations...shadowing is legit :) I'm not sure that others would necessarily agree with me!

Like many others believe, shadowing experience is a critical component of a med school application...I just wish it was easier for us to make the experience happen :)
 

Cheshyre

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There are thousands and thousands of premeds who shadow each year. Don't be dumb and nobody will care. I have only heard of one incident where a student got in trouble. It involved a newspaper article and a description of a patient that was detailed enough for the family to identify them.

I wouldn't be surprised if that one doctor just didn't want to take on shadowing responsibilities and couldn't think of an excuse fast enough. Find another one. It'll be better for you in the long run because if you can find one that is not only willing, but enthusiastic, you'll have a much easier time getting a rec letter later.
 

Bacchus

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The reason the attending didn't let you shadow the case is because "the parents weren't there to sign consent." Unless the youth had medical emancipation, parents would have to give the OK. It's the law, not the doctor. Most patients let you in the room.
 

Isoprop

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Some physicians don't want pre-meds to shadow. They might not want to deal with the liability so they don't allow shadows. But HIPAA isn't prohibiting pre-meds to shadow. There are still opportunities out there.

Remember, it's not a requirement. It's just competition: if other applicants are getting shadowing experience and you aren't, your application is just not as strong. And since many shadowing opportunities exist, I suggest you do the same.
 
Nov 23, 2010
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Im about to try to get lots of shadowing in the Bay Area of California. I don't have any contacts here, any suggestions on where to begin?

Also, as for formal volunteer programs - how do you find these? What does one normally do in these programs?
 
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JapaneseSakura

JapaneseSakura

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Thank you very much everyone! I can see why they fear pre-med students shadowing because they don’t want to get in trouble or lose their license! I’ve emailed tons a doctors and was able to get one response! He said I have to sign a lot of paperwork though before I can shadow him (Anesthesiologist).


Also, how long would you shadow a DO?

@TheNewguy8: I just emailed tons of doctors. They either don't respond or use the HIPAA speech. Don't worry, one will say yes.

Also, for the volunteer programs, the ones here in Rochester Ny, are pretty limited so I would call the hospital and ask about that.
 

CunningCaregivr

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Dec 23, 2007
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Bottom line: More time spent = a better letter and/or more valuable experience to reflect upon.

After one or two times shadowing a physician, you should ask yourself if a LOR seems reasonable (does this person seem to care enough to write a supportive/genuine LOR?). If you want to go for the LOR, shadow as many times as it takes for you to feel comfortable asking for one. I felt that the cut-off minimum was 3 times.

Also, don't waste your time with someone who seems impatient or indifferent to you being there. Seek someone who is excited to take you in, and spend as much time as you can with them.

On HIPAA: If a physician is in private/small practice, this is less likely to be a problem. HIPAA is more of a liability within hospitals and larger physician networks.