iheartmcats

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I have always wondered whether shadowing was important or even necessary. It seems as if I see some people with countless shadowing hours, and then I see others with little to no shadowing under their belts. So really, how important is shadowing? How much, if any, is necessary for a strong app?
 

pdeco1

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I am fortunate to work with a dean of a medical college. I often hear how applicants do not have enough shadowing experience.

If you had none you would be in trouble at this school. How can you have a real understanding of what a doctor does if you have never shadowed? Applicants often have difficulty discussing the profession during interviews when they have little/no shadowing experience. Not my opinion, what I have been told.

My shadowing experience has been the most inspiring and meaningful step in the process. Dont be afraid to ask, and ask everyone! If your having difficulty find a doctor at a teaching hospital, they generally love students.
 

ksmi117

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Clinical experience is essential for a successful application. Some people don't get that great of experience from volunteering so they go shadow. Shadowing isn't essential, but I think it's a pretty important thing because it's a bit of a different feel than volunteering. You don't need to do much, just a little bit. I just wouldn't want to give a school a reason to turn me away because I never did any shadowing.
 
Dec 18, 2009
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I had almost zero shadowing (maybe a total of two or three hours following a doctor on a medical trip abroad). However, I had plenty of significant clinical experience in my volunteering and doctors would often take time to explain stuff to me. It didn't seem to hurt my application but you never know for sure....
 

LizzyM

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You want to invest at least 5 years of your life (4 years med school + 1 yr of internship needed to be licensed) and thousands of dollars to prepare for a career. How do you know that this is the career for you? What do you think doctors do all day (and all night, sometimes)? How do you know? What are the biggest problems facing physicians today? How do you know? What has gotten worse over the last 5-10 years? How do you know?
 

tremulousNeedle

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You need to be able to demonstrate to admissions committees your motivation and dedicated to medication. To substantiate this claim, admissions committees look for contact with patients and contact with physicians.

I was an EMT who worked in an ED, so I had contact with physicians and patients all in one setting. I had no "shadowing" experience and did well with the application / interview process.

Other applicants may have worked as a CNA, where they got good patient care experience, but this experience really lacks physician contact, so these applicants would be expected to obtain more physician contact.

Those unable to obtain employment in healthcare jobs are at most need for shadowing experience.

The point of all this is to prove to the admissions committee that you know what you are getting into.

-senior medical student / admissions committee interviewer
 
Sep 4, 2006
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Inside the tesseract
I have always wondered whether shadowing was important or even necessary. It seems as if I see some people with countless shadowing hours, and then I see others with little to no shadowing under their belts. So really, how important is shadowing? How much, if any, is necessary for a strong app?
In regards to shadowing hours: there's a school in Florida that only expects 16 hours of shadowing. There are others that prefer 60-80 hours. Or none. The point is, that unless you know which is which, your goal is to have your application appeal to a range of schools. Shadowing is easy enough to do since it can be done in chunks of time over break. Pick a few types of specialists, ideally, at least one in primary care, and get enough hours in to give yourself the best chance of consideration wherever you apply.
 
Feb 1, 2010
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I'm surprised that there is anyone who doesn't have shadowing hours. Unless you are super busy it should be such a great opportunity to get as close to your dream career as possible. I actually enjoy shadowing more than my other "recommended ECs." I'm not sure there are any minimum requirements as far as hours go as I've hear people that have as few as 20 and people who have 200! I'd say do as many as possible. I plan on doing about 4 or 5 specialties for between 20-30 hours each. It's such as easy EC and you get to decide where you go and who you spend time with. I am an unofficial spokeswoman for shadowing...can you tell? :D
 
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Well if you're from Cali I would think it's harder. Shadowing is not easy to get. A lot of people have hook ups and others live in states or nearby hospitals that don't mind it that much. I have call up a bunch of docs and their hospitals wouldn't let them have students shadow. I don't think shadowing is easy to get as people think. I think it's possibly more relaxed in the Midwest and East Coast.
 

slowbutsteady

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There are lots of ways to get "shadowing" type experience without actually shadowing.

If you can work in a clinical setting around doctors and patients, that works too.

I always felt it was better to have a purpose in the setting rather than just following a doc around and feeling useless and in the way.
 

TBS12

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Yes, shadowing/clinical experience is extremely helpful, and more importantly, can make you a much stronger applicant. With that being said, not all shadowing will do that for you. Spending a few afternoons in a hospital, or with a physician at his/her private practice will not give you anything monumental to write or talk about. What will help you out tremendously is finding an experience where you can get really involved, whether indirectly in patient care, or on some sort of a clinical trial. That is the kind of experience that you will get asked about, or can bring up in interviews to make you stand out, or make you seem like you have some sort of an idea of what medicine is about.
 
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how important is shadowing for someone who has worked as an MA for more than three years? i have often shadowed the physicians while an MA...would that count?
 

JubJub603

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In all honesty its not very difficult to get some shadowing experience if you really try to find it. Do you have a doctor? Ask him/her. If not, do you have a family member or a friend who has a doctor? Same thing. Very rarely is the answer to both of those questions "no." Most doctors, if they're personable in any way, are usually willing to let you shadow them or at least point you in the direction of a physician who will. Just ask. The worst that can happen is they say "no," in which case, you threaten to find a new doctor... :p (just kidding)
 

Dbate

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For me shadowing was more of an opportunity to discover if I actually wanted to be a doctor. I think devoting many years of your life, a significant amount of money, and alot of stress to a career, without first gaining exposure and knowledge of the path you intend to undertake is a poor decision.

So, in my opinion, shadowing is better viewed as a chance to observe and see if you really want to be a doctor.


Also, does clinical experience only include things like volunteering and shadowing? I ask because I have worked in a medical clinic, as an office assistant, and I was wondering if this counts as clinical experience.
 

Swiss Medical

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You want to invest at least 5 years of your life (4 years med school + 1 yr of internship needed to be licensed) and thousands of dollars to prepare for a career. How do you know that this is the career for you? What do you think doctors do all day (and all night, sometimes)? How do you know? What are the biggest problems facing physicians today? How do you know? What has gotten worse over the last 5-10 years? How do you know?
What she said. In addition, be forewarned!! This is where most premedical students get into trouble. I would NOT FORGET to get this experience and get certified in something early on....They always remember a fraternity service, but not shadowing..
 

13132

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How crucial is it to shadow multiple specialties. I want to do either ER or family practice because of the variety. Therefore, I have had >200 ER volunteer hours, 60 clinical experience hours in the ER, and 35 hours with a family physician.

Do I really need to shadow a cardiologist, nephrologist, or dermatologist just to see it? I can't stand the idea of having such a specific career.
 
Jun 22, 2010
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Without clinical experience, your application is dead at all schools. Different schools feel differently about the importance of shadowing vs volunteering.
 
May 2, 2010
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You need to be able to demonstrate to admissions committees your motivation and dedicated to medication. To substantiate this claim, admissions committees look for contact with patients and contact with physicians.

I was an EMT who worked in an ED, so I had contact with physicians and patients all in one setting. I had no "shadowing" experience and did well with the application / interview process.

Other applicants may have worked as a CNA, where they got good patient care experience, but this experience really lacks physician contact, so these applicants would be expected to obtain more physician contact.

Those unable to obtain employment in healthcare jobs are at most need for shadowing experience.

The point of all this is to prove to the admissions committee that you know what you are getting into.

-senior medical student / admissions committee interviewer
Perfect answer. Besides impressing adcoms, don't premeds want to see what a day/week/month in the life of a doctor entails?
 
Feb 21, 2011
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I have always wondered whether shadowing was important or even necessary. It seems as if I see some people with countless shadowing hours, and then I see others with little to no shadowing under their belts. So really, how important is shadowing? How much, if any, is necessary for a strong app?
I can tell you from personal experience how important it is. After sitting on a waiting list since December, I called the school to see what I could do to improve on my application before the 2012 AMCAS came out. The only thing adcom wrote as negatives for "not enough shadowing".
 

13132

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I can tell you from personal experience how important it is. After sitting on a waiting list since December, I called the school to see what I could do to improve on my application before the 2012 AMCAS came out. The only thing adcom wrote as negatives for "not enough shadowing".
Do you mind telling how much shadowing you had at the time of application?
 

mvenus929

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how important is shadowing for someone who has worked as an MA for more than three years? i have often shadowed the physicians while an MA...would that count?
As long as you can articulate that you know what being a doctor is like, you're fine. A lot of applicants will have formal shadowing, where they actually go in and follow around a doc. Others will have more informal shadowing, either through volunteering or actually working with physicians in the clinical setting. I worked for a year and a half or so as a phlebotomist. For various reasons, I didn't have a whole lot of formal shadowing experience (maybe 16 hours?), but I worked extensively with physicians and other health care workers, and thus was able to explain why I wanted to be a doctor instead of all the other professions in medicine.
 

Rocher

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Shadowing gave me lots of things to talk about during my interviews and for my personal statement. I had such a good experience with one of the docs that I ended up shadowing him for ~60 hours and now he's a good friend and we go out for beers and stuff. I'm in the south, but it was very easy for me to get shadowing opportunities by just calling and asking if I could come in.
 
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The single most important factor of all. Make sure you want to do this for a living before you dive in. Dumb question man.
 

MermaidMD

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So if I have, currently, about 10 hours of shadowing, and additional 12 scheduled for this week and next, and likely about 12-24 more this month, should I submit my apps with my shadowing hours described as "previous" and "scheduled" or should I wait until I've completed all the hours before submitting (would likely be late June, early July)?

Edit: Bear in mind, I also have about 100 hours worth of clinical volunteering with direct patient contact under my belt, and 200+ hours of working with patients in a human subjects research setting.
 
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