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is shadowing enough?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ATPMD, May 8, 2008.

  1. ATPMD

    ATPMD 2+ Year Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    In terms of getting experience in the profession, is shadowing enough to please the admissions folks, or do I need to do some volunteer work also?

    My background is not unusual- out of college and working full time. I like the idea of shadowing because you get to experience what a doc does behind the door, and you may get the doc to right a recommendation-you get a much better feel of what med is about. I'm not too crazy about the volunteer thing. Not that I mind pushing patients around or whatever, but I get little or no insight into what it's like to be a doc.

    In short, shadowing gives me "MD experience" and most other volunteer work gives me "hospital experience". If all I have is time shadowing doctors, will they hold it against me if I have little or no "general" volunteer experience?

    Thanks for any helpful replies.
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    PRIMER God's Soldier 7+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    Do both if possible.
  4. ATPMD

    ATPMD 2+ Year Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    I realize that it'd be best to do both, but it's hard to commit that much time when working full time. As I said before, I really don't see how much the "general volunteering" will teach me about being a doctor, so I'm not too excited about doing it. However, I'm willing to accept that if it's needed, then I'll do it.
  5. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex 7+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Shadowing alone would likely be considered deficient. Most adcoms want to see a sustained, long term track record of altruistic behavior.
    Volunteering is almost a requirement, and more importantly, volunteer 2 hours a week for 3 years is much better than volunteering 20 hours a week for 1 summer.
  6. WorldsAway

    WorldsAway 2+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    look at it this way...

    You be up against kids who have done both shadowing and volunteering ... hell... ones that have gone out of the country for months and volunteered...

    So if you feel thats a corner you can cut then thats your call... but I wouldn't leave it to chance..

    Do 4 hrs a week at a VA or free clinic. Not only does volunteering look good, it gives you something to talk about on ur essays and during your interviews.
  7. njbmd

    njbmd Guest Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    May 30, 2001
    Gone Walkabout!
    Premed issue now moved to premed forum.
  8. It really isn't just about teaching you about being a doctor per se. It's really just being immersed in the healthcare environment and picking up things by simply being there. I was able to volunteer a few hours a week for a year while working full-time...but it was tough, so the time issue is a legitimate concern. There might be a volunteer an ER for example, that might let you "shadow" as well as help out with whatever tasks they give you. You can get to know the residents and attendings and make an strong enough impression that they might even give you an endorsement.
  9. tardyturtle

    tardyturtle 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    hospital volunteering will likely not give you the "MD experience" as you said, and as far as getting familiar with what being a physician entails, shadowing is (in my opinion) the best way to go. It really immerses you and gives you a chance to talk to the docs.

    BUT... hospital volunteer work is also a good experience and I think it is worthwhile.

    If you had shadowing and some non-hospital volunteering, I think you'd be okay, but you're going to want some activity that gives you clinical experience and one activity that is volunteering (shows you're altruistic). And often volunteering in a hospital is done because it fulfills these two (sometimes unwritten) requirements.

    As far as your time issue is concerned, every pre-med student is busy, and what I've found is that if you really want to do it, you can make the time to do it. Keep in mind that shadowing doesn't have to be a long term thing. Just a few days of shadowing I feel is sufficient to give you a good idea of the field. Volunteering, however, should be more long-term and in-depth (eg. weekly).

    Schedule some job shadows while you're off of school (winter break, spring break, summer break) that way they don't cut into your school schedule.

    Hope this helps,
  10. mdgator

    mdgator 2+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    Shadowing is all the clinical experience you need. It's basically all I had. I had no medical volunteer work at all. And I didn't even have that many hours. Work your full time job, and devote some time to shadowing. The full-time job is a much stronger EC than most people on SDN realize, especially if it's for any length of time. With the rest of your time, do things you enjoy. If those things are things you can discuss on a med school application, great! If they're not, don't sweat it. Jumping through hoops is overrated and I think most adcoms share this viewpoint to some degree. They would rather discuss activities and interests at an interview that actually mean something to you, than spend 20 minutes on the standard, "tell me about your volunteer work and your research" questions. Sure, volunteer work is great. Kudos to those who do it (for the right reasons.) But ask yourself this: How many pre-meds would still be devoting thousands of hours to volunteer work if adcoms/AMCAS stopped asking? I think most adcoms understand this.
  11. SundayT

    SundayT 2+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2007
    I'm reading all of these posts, and I'm trying to apply them to my current situation. I also work full-time at a transitional housing facility for homeless families as well as volunteer in the ED at a local hospital. I'm just wondering if adcoms care about WHERE I work---does it matter if it's unrelated to medicine?

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