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Physician shadowing for older non-trads - excessively difficult

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tluedeke

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I'm getting late in the 2017 application cycle, and I'm afraid to say that the straw that broke the camel's back for me is physician shadowing. Based upon feedback from rejections, the schools seem to ignore my difficult transition, academic success after many years away from school, tons of volunteer hours, etc, and beeline to "You haven't shadowed enough!"

I am extremely frustrated with this aspect of medical school application. I prepared for medical school while working full time as an engineer. I juggled a combination of heavy course loads, my job, and volunteering. As somebody who didn't have a premedical advisor, I was simply unaware of just how monumental a factor physician shadowing is for medical schools. It was an honest mistake, but one that is costing me dearly.

So once I realized that I needed to address this, I started looking for opportunities, and am not finding them. I recently relocated into a new area, so I don't know any local physicians personally. I've signed up for three different job shadowing programs locally, but it really hasn't moved. I cold called many physician's offices, describing my situation, and seeing if they allowed shadowing. I even started asking favors of friends, seeing if they knew any physicians (something strongly I dislike doing). This has taken a huge effort on my part, and thus far I'm up to a grand total of ..... 4 hours of non-physician shadowing in a diagnostic radiology department (which, BTW, was completely thrilling). I've pestered and cajoled contacts to the point where I feel uncomfortable pushing them any more, and I'm getting absolutely nowhere.

When I've interviewed at medical school, the kids I've interviewed with talk about shadowing for months on end. A son of a colleague (who lives in a neighborhood full of doctors) had so many shadowing opportunities because of his dad's connections that I'm surprised it wasn't a full-time job.

So what is the deal with physician shadowing? Because I really don't get it. Is it really that cliquish a deal, where opportunity depends only upon whether you have a family member who is a physician or you live next to one? Do you simply have to have a premedical advisor, who presumably has the connections? And for non-trads, who inevitably have had previous professional careers, why is shadowing so disproportionately important a factor for admission (I can understand it more for kids whom have never been a professional)?

I'm close to simply giving up on my hopes of becoming a doctor, and I'm profoundly unhappy about my ship running upon the rocks of physician shadowing.
 

sazerac

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Shadowing is important for all of us. Not just for experiencing a job, but specifically experiencing the job of a physician. There are a lot of other jobs in a clinical or hospital setting.

In the town where I did my premed studies, I sent an email to the local FM residency program, explaining who I was and what I wanted. They set me up with shadowing for a week with a variety of physicians in a variety of settings.

In the town where I lived, there was only one doctor, who was a my friend, my physician, and my co-volunteer in various small town committees. He was cool with me shadowing, especially during the busy season when he had several 4th year medical students rotating and the place was generally chaos. I probably did about 5 weeks with him, over the premed years. He also wrote me my only physician LOR.

Maybe you will get more sympathy in places that regularly have med students or residents?
 

libahli

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Shadowing was also a huge hurdle for me but I managed to get a decent amount in the end, and it was so worth it. It really does give you a more in depth view and better perspective - even the relatively small amount I did (compared to other premeds) has been so, so valuable. I therefore strongly recommend you don't give up on it yet.

I too had no premed advisor, no doctors in the family or friends, and was working a professional job. But there are resources out there, you just have to look hard and be persistent - for every physician that lets you, there will likely be five that say no. But be prepared to burn a bunch of vacation days, because I mostly had to shadow during normal business hours.

I pretty much did a lot of cold emailing to physicians and also got a bunch of hours through a shadowing program set up at a nearby hospital that was really intended for undergrads - but I explained my situation and they very kindly allowed me to participate which gave me about 20 hours. Google is your friend - search out any premed/job shadowing programs in nearby hospitals/medical schools and just shoot them an email. Worst they can say is no.

Also- major point - when you ask a physician, be it in person/letter/email, make sure they know how small of a commitment they are making. All I asked for each time with a new doctor was a few hours for one day. So, a lot of the shadowing I got was in chunks of 4 or 8 hours (half or full days). Some invited me to come again at the end of the first shadowing, so I was able to build on some of those experiences. Some also volunteered to reach out to fellow physicians on my behalf. If they offer either of these (and even if they don't), show genuine appreciation. Remember, they are allowing you to shadow for entirely selfless reasons. You are, if anything, an added liability to their day and even if you remain as mute as a shadow, you will still slow them down somewhat.

Hope this helps! Trust me, the frustration and hardship of landing these opportunities was really worth it in the end for me. Not just for application purposes but also in terms of how much I learned. And one of the physicians I shadowed turned into somewhat of a mentor for me, which was a totally unexpected side benefit!

I will say that having gone through this as a nontrad, once I am an attending, if I ever have a nontrad request to shadow me, I will do everything I can to make it happen. It really can be so much harder for us nontrads, since sadly we don't generally have he connections that current undergrads have through their schools.
 
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esob

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A really good place to look for shadowing is doing hospice. I've been volunteering for only a few months and now that I've got my food in the door, the palliative care docs are open to me shadowing them for however many hours I want to.
 

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So what is the deal with physician shadowing? Because I really don't get it. Is it really that cliquish a deal, where opportunity depends only upon whether you have a family member who is a physician or you live next to one? Do you simply have to have a premedical advisor, who presumably has the connections? And for non-trads, who inevitably have had previous professional careers, why is shadowing so disproportionately important a factor for admission (I can understand it more for kids whom have never been a professional)?

I'm close to simply giving up on my hopes of becoming a doctor, and I'm profoundly unhappy about my ship running upon the rocks of physician shadowing.


It's another arbitrary hoop to jump through so they can shorten the list. I'm an engineer too, so I feel your pain. When I went to school for engineering, they didn't require any of us to shadow in order to be admitted. We had no idea what it was like to actually work as one. Yet in the end, nearly everyone who graduated turned out as good engineers who performed their job effectively. Shadowing as an engineer would have been pointless (and I would argue same for any other profession); there's nothing you could learn in ~50 hours that would make any significant difference at all in your performance in school or career afterwards.

Personally I started working as a scribe because I knew I was too old to beg for free time from doctors.

Nonetheless, it is a requirement. Either fulfill it or give up your dream.
 

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Since you're in the application process I assume you are done with classes. Why not use that time to try and pick up a part-time medical assistant or scribe gig?

N=1 but I have an acceptance with zero shadowing. Experience as a medical assistant was good enough for admissions and I would argue that it's a more valuable experience than shadowing in that you are actually doing tasks and have tons of communication with patients, pharmacies, hospitals, insurance companies, etc as well as being hands on with patients on the daily.
 

sazerac

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What resource did you all use to find physician emails?

Cold calling by telephone to gatekeepers is very low yield.
I believe I both cases I just showed up at the office and said what I was looking for. At the residency program, they gave me the contact information for the director of education or whatever her title was.
 
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It was an honest mistake, but one that is costing me dearly.

I'm sorry but it wasn't an honest mistake. You have 46 posts on this site so you can't claim ignorance to this process. It is well documented that shadowing is really important so that medical schools want you to know what you're getting into - this is ESPECIALLY important for non-trad students who already have perspective on what a real job is like to make sure we aren't just jumping ship on a whim. You have to do the work to make sure this is right, that your impression of what a physician does is not just shaped by Grey's Anatomy, and that you've spoken with a physician about a profession into which you want to enter.

Email faculty at academic medical centers. Don't mention that you're non-traditional, just say "I'm hoping to apply to medical school and I would really like to spend some time at XYZ School of Medicine with you if possible." I see attendings with pre-meds all the time here. Attendings work on weekends in academic health centers, so you can't use weekends as excuses either. Try specialties that are in-patient because you'll find an attending on the weekend there (NICU, CCU, anesthesiology, ER, etc.).
 
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libahli

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What resource did you all use to find physician emails?

Cold calling by telephone to gatekeepers is very low yield.

I didn't do a single cold call. I either emailed via the contact form on doctor's websites or to the emails listed on dr profiles on the website of one of the hospitals near me. You can also go to other hospitals' websites and email the general departmental email address.

Basically I just introduced myself and gave some background. I said I was looking for just a few hours and already had the TB shots/HIPAA training/etc done and had badges at the facilities where I volunteered. I provided my resume and said I totally understood if they were too busy but would love the opportunity to learn more about their speciality if they could spare the time and allow me to shadow.

It worked for me and was a very painless process. I pretty much sent about 4-5 emails at a time and generally got a bite each time.
 

AnotherLawyer

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I'm getting late in the 2017 application cycle, and I'm afraid to say that the straw that broke the camel's back for me is physician shadowing. Based upon feedback from rejections, the schools seem to ignore my difficult transition, academic success after many years away from school, tons of volunteer hours, etc, and beeline to "You haven't shadowed enough!"

I am extremely frustrated with this aspect of medical school application. I prepared for medical school while working full time as an engineer. I juggled a combination of heavy course loads, my job, and volunteering. As somebody who didn't have a premedical advisor, I was simply unaware of just how monumental a factor physician shadowing is for medical schools. It was an honest mistake, but one that is costing me dearly.

So once I realized that I needed to address this, I started looking for opportunities, and am not finding them. I recently relocated into a new area, so I don't know any local physicians personally. I've signed up for three different job shadowing programs locally, but it really hasn't moved. I cold called many physician's offices, describing my situation, and seeing if they allowed shadowing. I even started asking favors of friends, seeing if they knew any physicians (something strongly I dislike doing). This has taken a huge effort on my part, and thus far I'm up to a grand total of ..... 4 hours of non-physician shadowing in a diagnostic radiology department (which, BTW, was completely thrilling). I've pestered and cajoled contacts to the point where I feel uncomfortable pushing them any more, and I'm getting absolutely nowhere.

When I've interviewed at medical school, the kids I've interviewed with talk about shadowing for months on end. A son of a colleague (who lives in a neighborhood full of doctors) had so many shadowing opportunities because of his dad's connections that I'm surprised it wasn't a full-time job.

So what is the deal with physician shadowing? Because I really don't get it. Is it really that cliquish a deal, where opportunity depends only upon whether you have a family member who is a physician or you live next to one? Do you simply have to have a premedical advisor, who presumably has the connections? And for non-trads, who inevitably have had previous professional careers, why is shadowing so disproportionately important a factor for admission (I can understand it more for kids whom have never been a professional)?

I'm close to simply giving up on my hopes of becoming a doctor, and I'm profoundly unhappy about my ship running upon the rocks of physician shadowing.

I feel your pain, but if you have an otherwise competitive application I think it would be foolish to give up just because of this. You appear to begrudge people for utilizing their "connections" but then you mention asking friends to help you find shadowing opportunities. That's exactly what using connections is. You may dislike it, but it's something that needs to be done to reach your goal. Don't give up.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I was asked to share some tips. It seems a lot more difficult than it is. Generally, existing relationships are more fruitful than cold calling, but if you just moved to a new area, you may not have those. Does your job have an occupational health department you could ask? Are you still taking courses? If so, your college/university probably has a wellness center you can go to. They may have a relationship with a physician you can utilize.

You could also make an appointment with a doctor just to get your own physician and casually mention going through the application process and shadowing. If he offers, there you go. If he doesn't, you can just ask. That may seem super awkward, but as long as you are actually planning on using him as your doctor and he's getting paid for the visit, I doubt he'll care.

I personally never had to cold call anyone. I shadowed a vascular surgeon I worked with in the OR, a Navy doc I hooked up with through my job, and am about to shadow my daughter's pediatrician.
 
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WellWornLad

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Try any academic medical facilities or practices first. Any place where they routinely train folks, from residents on down to PAs. If a practice isn't interested, they either aren't interested in teaching and your experience will be terrible or you're doing something weird to put them off (unlikely - you seem reasonably sane based on your post). Is there any big academic centers where you are?

Shadowing is much less of an issue if you have medical-related work experience. No one is going to be "impressed" if you shadowed for 200 hours - that's a few weeks of work in the business. Shadowing is really for your own protection. A lot of people get caught up in the image of medicine and think that all the hard work - studying for MCATs while holding down 2 jobs with a family, etc. - gives some insight into the lifelong grind of medicine, and it doesn't. Shadowing is a poor substitute, but it serves to take the blinders off for those people who's vision of medicine is some collage of medical drama shows on TV.

In any case, I agree that radiology is awesome.
 
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holdthemayo

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I did get some shadowing experience through cold calling. It sucks, but my sales experience in my previous career made me used to getting a lot of "No" before I finally got a Yes. The easier way to get shadowing is to start volunteering. My most valuable shadowing experiences came after months of volunteering. Doctors seemed more willing to spend time with me when they had either seen me or at least knew that I was part of the same hospital system as they were.

What have you been doing for clinical experience/volunteering? That's the place to start.
 

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You're a flight risk. You need to convince them that when it gets hard you're not going to bail and go back to your old 6 figure career.

Shadow a few times at multiple different hospital EDs. Then you can list multiple institutions and it will look like you have done lots of shadowing. Lots of old people volunteer with hospital auxiliaries. They would be happy to have you.
 
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LUCPM

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Have you searched the internet? Years ago I used a website called mymentor.com or something like that (forgot the exact name). I emailed almost all of them and some of them got back to me.

Sent from my SM-G935R4 using Tapatalk
 

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I was asked to share some tips. It seems a lot more difficult than it is. Generally, existing relationships are more fruitful than cold calling, but if you just moved to a new area, you may not have those. Does your job have an occupational health department you could ask? Are you still taking courses? If so, your college/university probably has a wellness center you can go to. They may have a relationship with a physician you can utilize.

You could also make an appointment with a doctor just to get your own physician and casually mention going through the application process and shadowing. If he offers, there you go. If he doesn't, you can just ask. That may seem super awkward, but as long as you are actually planning on using him as your doctor and he's getting paid for the visit, I doubt he'll care.

I personally never had to cold call anyone. I shadowed a vascular surgeon I worked with in the OR, a Navy doc I hooked up with through my job, and am about to shadow my daughter's pediatrician.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've only had one success so far and that was through the mentors listed on the state's osteopathic physician society. Unfortunately, my city had only two mentors listed and one of them took their name down. I've shadowed the other physician for 4 hours and wanted to continue but he did reply to my follow up emails.
 

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How old are we talking? I'm 32 and have had no problems finding docs to shadow.

Neither did I and I'm MUCH older than 32! The hospital where I'm shadowing has a formal program for students to shadow Docs. Also, Doc shadowing has other names including clinical observerships. I should also mention that I met the Doc I'm shadowing attending clinical conferences as a PhD student so yes, being in a place to meet people definitely helped me!

OP, don't take this the wrong way (FYI, I married an Engineer and my kid is in college to become one) but I sensed a tinge of arrogance in your first post and nothing pisses med types more than arrogance. I've got a TON of academic/professional "credentials" going into this process, but it doesn't mean squat without an acceptance. BTW, a good dose of humility never hurt anyone.
 
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TheTao

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Don't mention that you're non-traditional, just say "I'm hoping to apply to medical school and I would really like to spend some time at XYZ School of Medicine with you if possible."

THIS. Because what does age have to do with your goals?
 
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Goro

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The reason we require this is that you do need to know what a doctor's day is like, and that you can see how different doctors approach the practice of Medicine.

Do you have a personal doctor? If so, start with him/her. If not, get one.
Network. Continue your patient contact volunteering, and work up the clinicians around you.

Is there a med school within driving distance? If so, go visit them.

You also need to consider that you may have bombed your interview, and saying "you don't have enough shadowing" is more polite than saying "you were scary", you were too full of yourself" you were too entitled..." and all the other reasons for which people get rejected post interview.


I'm getting late in the 2017 application cycle, and I'm afraid to say that the straw that broke the camel's back for me is physician shadowing. Based upon feedback from rejections, the schools seem to ignore my difficult transition, academic success after many years away from school, tons of volunteer hours, etc, and beeline to "You haven't shadowed enough!"

I am extremely frustrated with this aspect of medical school application. I prepared for medical school while working full time as an engineer. I juggled a combination of heavy course loads, my job, and volunteering. As somebody who didn't have a premedical advisor, I was simply unaware of just how monumental a factor physician shadowing is for medical schools. It was an honest mistake, but one that is costing me dearly.

So once I realized that I needed to address this, I started looking for opportunities, and am not finding them. I recently relocated into a new area, so I don't know any local physicians personally. I've signed up for three different job shadowing programs locally, but it really hasn't moved. I cold called many physician's offices, describing my situation, and seeing if they allowed shadowing. I even started asking favors of friends, seeing if they knew any physicians (something strongly I dislike doing). This has taken a huge effort on my part, and thus far I'm up to a grand total of ..... 4 hours of non-physician shadowing in a diagnostic radiology department (which, BTW, was completely thrilling). I've pestered and cajoled contacts to the point where I feel uncomfortable pushing them any more, and I'm getting absolutely nowhere.

When I've interviewed at medical school, the kids I've interviewed with talk about shadowing for months on end. A son of a colleague (who lives in a neighborhood full of doctors) had so many shadowing opportunities because of his dad's connections that I'm surprised it wasn't a full-time job.

So what is the deal with physician shadowing? Because I really don't get it. Is it really that cliquish a deal, where opportunity depends only upon whether you have a family member who is a physician or you live next to one? Do you simply have to have a premedical advisor, who presumably has the connections? And for non-trads, who inevitably have had previous professional careers, why is shadowing so disproportionately important a factor for admission (I can understand it more for kids whom have never been a professional)?

I'm close to simply giving up on my hopes of becoming a doctor, and I'm profoundly unhappy about my ship running upon the rocks of physician shadowing.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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The reason we require this is that you do need to know what a doctor's day is like, and that you can see how different doctors approach the practice of Medicine.

Do you have a personal doctor? If so, start with him/her. If not, get one.
Network. Continue your patient contact volunteering, and work up the clinicians around you.

Is there a med school within driving distance? If so, go visit them.

You also need to consider that you may have bombed your interview, and saying "you don't have enough shadowing" is more polite than saying "you were scary", you were too full of yourself" you were too entitled..." and all the other reasons for which people get rejected post interview.

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to everyone if they were just honest with candidates and told them what was off about them? Interview styles and appearing arrogant or entitled can be fixed.
 
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WhereMyLiberalsAt

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I am also a non-trad, and shadowing is the biggest pain... I'm planning on applying to DO programs. I have about 20 hours shadowing with random doctors (all MD, and none I feel comfortable asking to write me a letter.) Many of the better DO programs require a DO letter..... Do these programs literally believe I'm going to experience some OMM? The city I am in is ran by a big name in healthcare, and their gatekeeper is controlled by my schools gatekeeper... I messed up day one with her (head of committee) because I mentioned I wanted to be a DO.... Big no, no for her. I have applied 3 times trying to get into shadowing positions, but I kid you not keep getting passed up by sophomores, and Juniors. I have to drive 45 minutes to go shadow a DO in another county! I literally had to pick a new personal physician that was a DO to then ask him if I could shadow him! The work involved is complete BS! @Goro might be correct at the polite rejection method.... But man driving home for 1.5 hours on icy dark roads while your wife is at home waiting to spend time with you... Just for a damn DO letter gets my blood boiling!
 

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I messed up day one with her (head of committee) because I mentioned I wanted to be a DO.... Big no, no for her. I have applied 3 times trying to get into shadowing positions, but I kid you not keep getting passed up by sophomores, and Juniors.

Are you taking classes for purposes of getting into med school or have otherwise demonstrated a proven interest in a career that unofficially requires medical shadowing? I found the process as grueling as an interview too i.e. requiring my CV and letter from PI/Doc, ect, but if you're not in school, then it makes sense why you're not as competitive as other students.
 
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WhereMyLiberalsAt

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Are you taking classes for purposes of getting into med school or have otherwise demonstrated a proven interest in a career that unofficially requires medical shadowing? I found the process as grueling as an interview too i.e. requiring my CV and letter from PI/Doc, ect, but if you're not in school, then it makes sense why you're not as competitive as other students.

I'm a transfer student, and I'm new to the school. Really all I'm there for is to do research (which I've been successful at obtaining a great PI, and doing strong work,) and finish my degree out (I completed all of my pre-reqs before transferring). I planned on just going and making connections by myself, but this was put to a stop by the bureaucratic BS my school has done. Instead of rewarding adults for making connections and networking they have forced people to go through the committee. It for sure helps the "kid" in making sure they don't accept any responsibility, and it helps them to not develop professional communication skills!
 
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DrMidlife

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"Shadowing" is a red herring here. Med school admissions require you to have substantial exposure to the field of medicine, in the clinical environment, where a practicing physician is in position to mentor, advise, dissuade or otherwise influence you. Med school admissions require you to see the dirty underbelly of medicine, where people aren't just sick, they're addicted and obese and mentally ill and sad and awful a whole lot more than they're grateful and engaged and positively affected by anything you can do as a doc, and where compensation is ridiculously complex and where you work with a computer more than you work with patients.

"Premed adviser" is also a red herring. The average premed adviser has very little ability to apply cookie cutter advice to nontrads. There are books and SDN and other premeds and med students and residents and med schools and consultants and a long long long list of ways to find out what premeds do to get into med school. Med school admissions websites, if nothing else, make it clear what's required. Pro tip: getting into residency is no different. Don't find out after match day that the other kids did more research.

Meanwhile, finding out during med school or during residency that you don't really want the job is almost always a disaster. A financial, professional, personal, humiliating disaster.

As a premed you're a minimum (MINIMUM) of seven years and maybe $250k(-which-grows-to-$400k-if-borrowed) from independent practice. A mature approach to that length and cost of training is to just not blindly take it on prior to seeing as much as you can of the job way way way on the other side. It's one thing for an 18 year old with no work experience and a bunch of big fat dreams of helping people to follow around a doc for a bunch of hours. It's entirely different for a mature professional to respectfully consider a career change that removes him/her from a whole lot of productive years and removes him/her from a whole lot of money because as a mature professional you know that there's plenty of suckage on the other side of that career change because that's what any job is like, and hoo boy you'd better not make that jump without rigorous investigation and skepticism and hesitation.

And let's not kid ourselves, nontrads with life experience: what a premed thinks about med school requirements makes not even a teensy bit of difference. Complaining about med school requirements is stupid because there are an infinite number of things you will think are stupid in medical training...and your opinion won't matter then either. (Want your opinion on medical education to matter? Make it through medical training and keep caring about the premed experience. That "keep caring" part almost never happens.)

Best of luck to you.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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"Shadowing" is a red herring here. Med school admissions require you to have substantial exposure to the field of medicine, in the clinical environment, where a practicing physician is in position to mentor, advise, dissuade or otherwise influence you. Med school admissions require you to see the dirty underbelly of medicine, where people aren't just sick, they're addicted and obese and mentally ill and sad and awful a whole lot more than they're grateful and engaged and positively affected by anything you can do as a doc, and where compensation is ridiculously complex and where you work with a computer more than you work with patients.

I have 10,000 hours of paid civilian clinical experience, 150 hours shadowing a surgeon, and I am currently a primary care provider for 300 people 3 days a week. I've also shadowed a Navy GMO. I was advised by an adcom to shadow a civilian primary care physician for 20 or so hours. I don't think it's just about getting exposure to medicine at this point, as I'm pretty sure I've got that covered.
 
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WhereMyLiberalsAt

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"Shadowing" is a red herring here. Med school admissions require you to have substantial exposure to the field of medicine, in the clinical environment, where a practicing physician is in position to mentor, advise, dissuade or otherwise influence you. Med school admissions require you to see the dirty underbelly of medicine, where people aren't just sick, they're addicted and obese and mentally ill and sad and awful a whole lot more than they're grateful and engaged and positively affected by anything you can do as a doc, and where compensation is ridiculously complex and where you work with a computer more than you work with patients.

"Premed adviser" is also a red herring. The average premed adviser has very little ability to apply cookie cutter advice to nontrads. There are books and SDN and other premeds and med students and residents and med schools and consultants and a long long long list of ways to find out what premeds do to get into med school. Med school admissions websites, if nothing else, make it clear what's required. Pro tip: getting into residency is no different. Don't find out after match day that the other kids did more research.

Meanwhile, finding out during med school or during residency that you don't really want the job is almost always a disaster. A financial, professional, personal, humiliating disaster.

As a premed you're a minimum (MINIMUM) of seven years and maybe $250k(-which-grows-to-$400k-if-borrowed) from independent practice. A mature approach to that length and cost of training is to just not blindly take it on prior to seeing as much as you can of the job way way way on the other side. It's one thing for an 18 year old with no work experience and a bunch of big fat dreams of helping people to follow around a doc for a bunch of hours. It's entirely different for a mature professional to respectfully consider a career change that removes him/her from a whole lot of productive years and removes him/her from a whole lot of money because as a mature professional you know that there's plenty of suckage on the other side of that career change because that's what any job is like, and hoo boy you'd better not make that jump without rigorous investigation and skepticism and hesitation.

And let's not kid ourselves, nontrads with life experience: what a premed thinks about med school requirements makes not even a teensy bit of difference. Complaining about med school requirements is stupid because there are an infinite number of things you will think are stupid in medical training...and your opinion won't matter then either. (Want your opinion on medical education to matter? Make it through medical training and keep caring about the premed experience. That "keep caring" part almost never happens.)

Best of luck to you.

I do have a hard time listening to my committee head talk. Everything she says is so cliche I always leave a meeting trying not to shake my head! When ever I hear her say "you need those shadowing hours to make sure you really want to do medicine... It's not like other careers!"...... I cringe when I hear that!!! I know PLENTY of adults that bare their completely s***ty career's because they are to far invested into their field, need the benefits, have mortgages, so many other real world responsibilities. I'm not saying being educated on the career you want to change to isn't unnecessary. But as someone who has experienced some real life challenges I might have the upper hand when trying to identify red flags in other job fields than some 21 year old. I just hope adcoms can understand this (even though I'm getting the hours anyways because I'm paranoid it will hurt me, and I'm an ADULT and know when to swallow my pride.) I find it hard sometimes to have gatekeepers give out such "cookie cutter" advice. It makes it so I don't know BS from truth!
 

Goro

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This is OK for most of the DO schools.

I have about 20 hours shadowing with random doctors (all MD, and none I feel comfortable asking to write me a letter.)

But not all!
Many of the better DO programs require a DO letter.....

No, they want you to show you're serious about entering the profession by doing due diligence. BTW, some 95% of DOs do NOT use OMM in their practice.

Do these programs literally believe I'm going to experience some OMM?


Not a great sacrifice if you really want to be a DO. Just an afternoon of shadowing will suffice.

I have to drive 45 minutes to go shadow a DO in another county! I literally had to pick a new personal physician that was a DO to then ask him if I could shadow him! The work involved is complete BS! @Goro might be correct at the polite rejection method.... But man driving home for 1.5 hours on icy dark roads while your wife is at home waiting to spend time with you... Just for a damn DO letter gets my blood boiling![/QUOTE]
 

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This is OK for most of the DO schools.

I have about 20 hours shadowing with random doctors (all MD, and none I feel comfortable asking to write me a letter.)

But not all!
Many of the better DO programs require a DO letter.....

No, they want you to show you're serious about entering the profession by doing due diligence. BTW, some 95% of DOs do NOT use OMM in their practice.

Do these programs literally believe I'm going to experience some OMM?


Not a great sacrifice if you really want to be a DO. Just an afternoon of shadowing will suffice.

I have to drive 45 minutes to go shadow a DO in another county! I literally had to pick a new personal physician that was a DO to then ask him if I could shadow him! The work involved is complete BS! @Goro might be correct at the polite rejection method.... But man driving home for 1.5 hours on icy dark roads while your wife is at home waiting to spend time with you... Just for a damn DO letter gets my blood boiling!

I want all those top programs in my crosshairs yo!
But not all!

Really? An afternoon?! I don't know letter writer etiquette that well than! I just feel like it wouldn't produce a strong letter. Work put in = strength of letter.... I would love your input on this! I would love to be wrong.
Just an afternoon of shadowing will suffice.

I agree! That's why I'm doing it... But I'd rather complain to SDN than burden my wife with unnecessary drivel :)
Not a great sacrifice if you really want to be a DO
 
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TheTao

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I'm a transfer student, and I'm new to the school. Really all I'm there for is to do research (which I've been successful at obtaining a great PI, and doing strong work,) and finish my degree out (I completed all of my pre-reqs before transferring).

IMHO, if the underlined comes across even a little bit in your interviews, you've VERY likely sunk your app! The question this brings up is why not the PhD or more so why medical school

As a person with an extensive and extended career doing scientific research, it took a minute for me to change my aura/conversation from being a "research type" to being more of a "clinical/physician type".
 

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I have 10,000 hours of paid civilian clinical experience, 150 hours shadowing a surgeon, and I am currently a primary care provider for 300 people 3 days a week. I've also shadowed a Navy GMO. I was advised by an adcom to shadow a civilian primary care physician for 20 or so hours. I don't think it's just about getting exposure to medicine at this point, as I'm pretty sure I've got that covered.

As a super nontrad, I feel like it's more about: 1) How bad you want it and, 2) How many hoops you're willing to jump through to get it.
 
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Goro

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Nearly all clinician letters are testamonials. They're not all that helpful as letters of evaluation, which is what we'd really like to see. For the mere fact that you went out of your way to get a DO letter shows that you have done due diligence and that you were serious about this process.

I want all those top programs in my crosshairs yo!
But not all!

Really? An afternoon?! I don't know letter writer etiquette that well than! I just feel like it wouldn't produce a strong letter. Work put in = strength of letter.... I would love your input on this! I would love to be wrong.
Just an afternoon of shadowing will suffice.

I agree! That's why I'm doing it... But I'd rather complain to SDN than burden my wife with unnecessary drivel :)
Not a great sacrifice if you really want to be a DO
 
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I don't think getting a DO letter is as difficult as a professor letter. The two I shadowed at the end of the 4 hours I asked if they would be willing to write a letter if I came back a few more times and both were very open.

The only thing is that both are younger so that may have something to do with it. I looked up DOs on the osteopathic website and pretty strictly called those under 40.
 

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?

I've never had a professor decline. I've had one who was hesistant and that's the worst its been

I've called 39 physicians to date and have no offers to shadow. Admittedly it appears I've been going about this the wrong way.

What I meant was that it's easier in the fact that they understand the deal and don't expect some sort of long term commitment for a letter. Most professors want you to be somewhat active in class and visit quite a bit in office hours, sometimes more than a semester. Not all obviously, but I'd bet a big portion.

Edit: Have you tried the doctors that do website? I had really good luck calling DOs through there. Admittedly there is a DO school in my area but I called less than 10 and found a couple willing to let me shadow.
 

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IMHO, if the underlined comes across even a little bit in your interviews, you've VERY likely sunk your app! The question this brings up is why not the PhD or more so why medical school

As a person with an extensive and extended career doing scientific research, it took a minute for me to change my aura/conversation from being a "research type" to being more of a "clinical/physician type".

This is great advice, and I'll be mindful of it when I write my "stuff" this spring. I completed all of my pre-reqs and then some at a small two year college because they gave a great education and I had a scholarship! Now I'm at my university, and doing every class that they offer me for the fall... I just can't supplement my schedule with the orgo, genetic, micro, and physics like other people.... So I'm currently taking their fluff classes, and doing research for credit. The only real connection I have with people is in the lab. So it makes me feel like all I'm really doing is research. But once again I will take what you said to heart. I will want to be mindful of readjusting my mood.
 

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The med school I'm applying to (hometown) has a person who will help prospective applicants pair up with docs for shadowing, so I'd say go to the nearest med school and ask. Merits of shadowing can be debated, but it is a requirement. Certainly hasn't always been that way for med school, I think the last decade or so it has taken root. I can tell you no law schools make you follow a lawyer in order to submit a complete application. I've defended doctors and hospitals in litigation, but come January, I'll be following a doctor around for free with a smile on my face. Compared to everything else the application requires, shadowing is not that big of a deal.
 
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I have 10,000 hours of paid civilian clinical experience, 150 hours shadowing a surgeon, and I am currently a primary care provider for 300 people 3 days a week. I've also shadowed a Navy GMO. I was advised by an adcom to shadow a civilian primary care physician for 20 or so hours. I don't think it's just about getting exposure to medicine at this point, as I'm pretty sure I've got that covered.
I don't know your story, so keep in mind that I'm making an assumption here. I'm guessing you're a PA or NP based on "I am currently a primary care provider..."? I think the point of shadowing physicians (or having a clinical job where you're in direct contact with physicians, like scribing or being a medical assistant) is so that you can see what a physician's job is like. As a primary care provider, you're already in the provider seat and likely don't shadow what physicians do. And, no matter what you think, the jobs are different and you have to humble yourself to the fact that you need to invest time learning what a physician does when he/she sees patients. You have your own personal reasons for wanting to be a physician, but you can't think that just because you have independent clinical experience you understand what it truly means to be a physician. Caveat: this obviously can't be learned in a few hours shadowing, but it's the best a pre-med can do.

*this might not all apply to your situation, just using what you said as a good springboard for others who might feel similarly/be in similar situations.
 

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I don't know your story, so keep in mind that I'm making an assumption here. I'm guessing you're a PA or NP based on "I am currently a primary care provider..."? I think the point of shadowing physicians (or having a clinical job where you're in direct contact with physicians, like scribing or being a medical assistant) is so that you can see what a physician's job is like. As a primary care provider, you're already in the provider seat and likely don't shadow what physicians do. And, no matter what you think, the jobs are different and you have to humble yourself to the fact that you need to invest time learning what a physician does when he/she sees patients. You have your own personal reasons for wanting to be a physician, but you can't think that just because you have independent clinical experience you understand what it truly means to be a physician. Caveat: this obviously can't be learned in a few hours shadowing, but it's the best a pre-med can do.

*this might not all apply to your situation, just using what you said as a good springboard for others who might feel similarly/be in similar situations.

You missed the part where I have over 150 hours of shadowing two different doctors. I still got advised to make sure I shadow a civilian primary care doc to check that box. Some things are just box checking (which I'm happy to do if it gets me accepted).

And no, not a PA or NP. Did consider PA at one point though. And if I thought I was the same as a physician, I wouldn't waste my time going to medical school. But taking care of patients as the provider (like an IDC or a PA) gets you WAY closer to the nitty gritty of practicing medicine (since that's what you're doing) than watching a doctor do it. I know, because I've done both.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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As a super nontrad, I feel like it's more about: 1) How bad you want it and, 2) How many hoops you're willing to jump through to get it.

Exactly my point. Shadowing is the only way many people can see what it's like to be a doctor, so it's really important to do it. But at some point, especially for non-trade, it just becomes a box to check because everyone else will have it.
 
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Jeesh, that was a lot of replies. Can't really respond to them all. But to cover a few:

  • I've applied for opportunities through three different physician/job shadowing programs. One through the local huge health network that runs multiple hospitals, two others associated through local medical schools. They've been very nice, but has taken a lot of pestering emails per opportunity received.
  • I have not tried the letter writing approach as suggested by several folks, but it is a great idea. It would be a way to actually get my story in front of the physician themselves, rather than crashing pointlessly into their immutable gatekeepers at the front desk.
  • I don't "begrudge my connections" (although I do somewhat "begrudge the implications" of that comment). I just prefer to be conservative about running around asking favors of everyone I barely know. I'm newly relocated, and simply don't have the network connections of a long time area resident.
  • My trouble with finding physician shadowing has nothing to do with making excuses for interviews. I've had some medical school interviews that I knew went great, and some that didn't go so well. But the feedback on clinical experience and lack of shadowing has been consistent.
  • I have volunteered at Hospice for several years, working alongside RNs and CNAs, and having direct patient contact the whole time. As near as I can tell, the medical schools did not view it as clinical experience, nor did it gain me any credit for job shadowing. I did reach out to the palliative care physicians that work there to see about directly shadowing them, but it didn't yield results after several attempts. I will probably continue to try with other physicians that work through Hospice.
I'll keep plugging away at it, although it is very likely too little, too late for this application cycle. I still feel that if shadowing is going to be a critical prerequisite experience for medical school, opportunities ought to be more straightforward to obtain.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I don't "begrudge my connections" (although I do somewhat "begrudge the implications" of that comment). I just prefer to be conservative about running around asking favors of everyone I barely know. I'm newly relocated, and simply don't have the network connections of a long time area resident.

You don't need them. It's not that hard. Make an appointment with a doctor and while you're there, mention your med school plans and ask if he'd ever be open to having you shadow him (or if not him, then if his partners would be open to it). That's it. That's usually all it takes.
 
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You missed the part where I have over 150 hours of shadowing two different doctors. I still got advised to make sure I shadow a civilian primary care doc to check that box. Some things are just box checking (which I'm happy to do if it gets me accepted).

And no, not a PA or NP. Did consider PA at one point though. And if I thought I was the same as a physician, I wouldn't waste my time going to medical school. But taking care of patients as the provider (like an IDC or a PA) gets you WAY closer to the nitty gritty of practicing medicine (since that's what you're doing) than watching a doctor do it. I know, because I've done both.
I was responding in more of a generalized way based on some things you said that I hear commonly from pre-meds. I did see you had 150 hours, but I do think that civilian shadowing is probably important as things are done differently in both arenas. Not trying to say that you haven't done any.

I'm confused how you were a primary care provider if you are not a physician, PA, or NP, though. You might have just said that because it was easier to type than other things (which I totally get), but if that's truly how you're presenting it on your apps and interviews, I would be careful calling yourself a "provider" if you're none of those things. In the hospital there's a pretty clear distinction of what a provider is vs. other medical staff.

I hate the attitude among pre-meds that it's box checking to shadow a physician. Sure you might have healthcare experience, but when you shadow 100% of your attention should be focused on watching what a physician does and asking questions about it. Find out what sucks and what's great, but don't think of it as box checking. I think box checking is making sure you are in some stupid clubs at your undergrad, for example, but putting some thought, time, and energy into experiencing your future profession is hardly a silly "requirement".
 

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I think "box checking" was used as a figure of speech. If you've read Matthew's post's regularly, you'd know that he's not THAT guy.
 
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I think "box checking" was used as a figure of speech. If you've read Matthew's post's regularly, you'd know that he's not THAT guy.
Fair, I don't know him.

But generally speaking, many pre-meds view a lot of things as box-checking. Like "I have to get 100 volunteer hours for my med school app" rather than "I want to volunteer to help XYZ organization".
 

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I was responding in more of a generalized way based on some things you said that I hear commonly from pre-meds. I did see you had 150 hours, but I do think that civilian shadowing is probably important as things are done differently in both arenas. Not trying to say that you haven't done any.

Got you. Standard case of assuming you were addressing me specifically since you quoted me.

I shadowed a civilian surgeon for 150 hours and a military primary care doc for like 12 hours so far. I'm planning on shadowing her for more and also a civilian pediatrician for a bit just to have it in there.

I'm confused how you were a primary care provider if you are not a physician, PA, or NP, though. You might have just said that because it was easier to type than other things (which I totally get), but if that's truly how you're presenting it on your apps and interviews, I would be careful calling yourself a "provider" if you're none of those things. In the hospital there's a pretty clear distinction of what a provider is vs. other medical staff.

You don't have to be a PA or an NP to provide primary care in the military. Last shift, I wrote an rx for antibiotics, put in an order for labs, put in a mental health consult, treated a bunch of viral URIs, irrigated and packed a wound, and started an IV. I also dealt with malingerers and a few super anxious people who just needed a hug. Oh, and I did a bunch of boring annual physicals. Not a doctor, NP, or PA in sight. Our mid level is the IDC who is HM1. Our ship's doc sup is a GMO who works on a different base and who reviews our notes once a month.

I will be discussing these experiences in my app, but not from an "I'm equal to a physician" standpoint, since I'm not and don't want to give the impression that I think I am. Again, if I thought I was, I wouldn't be trying to go to med school.

I hate the attitude among pre-meds that it's box checking to shadow a physician. Sure you might have healthcare experience, but when you shadow 100% of your attention should be focused on watching what a physician does and asking questions about it. Find out what sucks and what's great, but don't think of it as box checking. I think box checking is making sure you are in some stupid clubs at your undergrad, for example, but putting some thought, time, and energy into experiencing your future profession is hardly a silly "requirement".

Agreed. I am not a box checker. You don't know me though, so I don't expect you to know that.
 
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