fiznat

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Hey everyone!

I'm mostly a lurker here even though I've registered and made a few posts here and there... I've been struggling lately with my decisions about medical school and I wanted to ask you guys about some of my solutions to my own questions..

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot make a decision (that I'll be happy with) about becoming a doc until I have a better idea about what I'm getting into. I have been working as an EMT for the past couple years and while I do enjoy the experience and yearn for more, I think shadowing an ED doc in a busy(ish) ED would be much more helpful in giving me a better idea of what things might be like for me.

Still, I'm not sure how to go about this. I talk to ED docs all the time at work, but I dont know if it would be appropriate for me to just start asking random docs if I can follow them around for their shifts... Even if that was perfectly acceptable, I hardly ever bring patients to EDs that I would want to shadow docs in (I work in a fairly rural area and only go to level 1 trauma centers [Yale New Haven CT and Hartford Hospital CT] every once in a while). What do you guys suggest is the best way to go about finding a good doc to follow and getting permission to do so?

Also, I am worried - during this shadowing time - that I might get in the way of things. Shadowing docs on hospital floors, or in clinics and ORs is one thing, but doesn’t the "hustle and bustle" mess of the ED kinda make it hard to attach yourself to a doc's coat tails? I mean, I have a lot of ED experience from my EMT work, but I don’t know if that would be enough to convince a ED doc that I wont get in the way too much....

I would really appreciate it if you guys could help point me in the right direction. I am a college graduate, 22 years old with a major in philosophy and psychology, trying to cope with my fairly recent decision to become a doc despite this huge mound of pre-med work (and decisions!) that I have yet to completely face. Please help!
 

Powder

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Talk to your EMS medical director, he/she should be able hook you up with an ER doctor to shadow.
 
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fiznat

fiznat

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yeahh I thought about that but our med control is located at a pretty rinky dink hospital if you know what I mean... I reeealy kinda wanted to get over to one of the level 1 facilities both because I'll see stuff and also because a lot of the people (especially at Hartford Hospital) are affiliated with the local (cheap) med schools I'd really like to get into....
 

USAF MD '05

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If I were you, I would just call the ED of the place you want to go, ask to speak to a doctor, and explain your situation. Most docs are happy to show off their field to a future colleague. The "hustle and bustle" can be overrated. If it ever gets too crazy, just step out of the way. The worst he can say is no, and then you try with another doc. Good luck with your decision- it's a big one!
 

Febrifuge

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Congrats on joining the post-bac pre-med circle of insanity!

Seriously, just make a phone call to Hartford (because it sounds like you'd be most interested in hanging out there). Speak with whoever it is who arranges education stuff (probably a staff doc) and explain your situation. You're in the boonies, you're thinking about going to med school, and you'd like more than the passing glance you usually get at the place. You want to shadow. They've been through it all before, and they know what to do. Depending on the requirements for Paramedic training in your state, they probably have EMTs in for observation shifts all the time (I know we do, in MN). It would be a lot like that, except more shadowing and less doing stuff.

You're already a member of the family (like, a cousin or something). Don't let your perfectly natural hesitation and respect for the work make you feel like an outsider. Just ask around until somebody says "sure, you can hang out for a shift."
 

Iain

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I volunteer in an ED (University Hospital), and although we can not follow a doctor round for a shift, if there is something you want to observe they really have no problem with it aslong as you do not get in the way.
 

katiew

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Is the reason why you can't follow the docs around for a shift because it is a University hospital?
 

Iain

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katiew said:
Is the reason why you can't follow the docs around for a shift because it is a University hospital?
To be honest, the only reason I wrote that was during orientation it was said 'there were no shadowing opportunities, however in the ED you could observe some procedures'. However thinking about it, I would imagine if you asked they would be more then happy to provide the opportunity. I have never been asked to leave the room, even when the doctor is talking one-on-one with the patient about the procedure or their illness.
 

doc05

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You've been watching too much "ER." First off, there isn't that much "hustle and bustle" at a level 1 trauma center ED. I've spent time in one, and it ain't that exciting. Actually, with the availablity of the consulting services at a place like that, the ED docs will actually do less.

A rural ED will provide enough experience for shadowing. It's also important to remember that after residency, most docs don't end up practicing at a level 1 center, and you should see what it's like to actually be a practicing physician, rather than a resident.