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Shadowing in a Doctor's office, but with a P.A.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by secants, May 7, 2008.

  1. secants

    secants about:blank 10+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2006

    So in an attempt to make my summer productive I am searching for a doctor to shadow; I got in contact with one but I was told that she uses a Physician's Assistant. So I am wondering if it's the same deal to shadow a PA instead the internist herself? I was planning on getting a LOR if I managed to find someone to Shadow but I guess that wouldn't be feasible in this case?

    Thanks for any input!
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  3. CTtarheel

    CTtarheel Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2006
    The PA will do almost exactly the same thing in a primary care office, except the MD will tend to handle the more complicated patients (older, longer problem lists) while the PA will handle the more clear cut cases.

    The PA won't be much of a useful mentor in the future and won't be able to give you advice about his views of medicine or tips about getting through med school and residency.

    LORs from both are not terribly useful, the PA letter is mostly worthless. What do you expect a doc you shadowed to say? "so and so didn't piss off any of my patients and showed up on time". Really, how can someone you show up and watch speak to your character or fitness for medicine?
  4. 175961

    175961 2+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    The Shadow Gallery
    If you actually take time to talk to the doctor and get to know him and talk to him about your own life and why you are thinking about medicine then he might be able to write a good letter. If all you do is show up and watch and leave then yeah, you cant expect much from the doc. But if you ask questions, talk with him about this and that show interest and get to know him then you probably can expect something more than "so and so didnt piss off any of my patients and showed up on time"
  5. Mobius1985

    Mobius1985 7+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2007
    The MD and PA are both practicing medicine, and all the MD's patients will not consent to your presence, so it's nice to have someone else to hang with during those times. The opportunity to observe both healthcare professionals will give you a balanced view of how many offices are run these days, and allow you to answer the question, "why not be a PA", which some are asked at interviews. The MD is sponsoring you and would be the one to write a letter regardless of whether you also shadow the PA, if you really feel that type of letter would be helpful. Hopefully, you would come to know both clinicians well. (None of the schools I applied to asked for such a letter. I thought it was a great experience regardless.)
  6. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    The doctor I shadowed last summer had his office in part of the hospital complex and worked with a PA. It actually made for a better experience. When one would have something "interesting" he would call the other to send me scuttling over to either the hospital or office. It didn't exactly double the experience, but did enable me to get a wider exposure than I would otherwise have gotten during that time. Plus, it gave me an appreciation of the duties and value of a good PA.
  7. kypdurron5

    kypdurron5 10+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    I wouldn't bother with a LOR from a PA, but you still might be able to get one from the Dr. if you get to spend some time with him/her. Also, when you list this activity on your AMCAS or during an interview....choose your words carefully. There's no reason you can't say "I shadowed in Dr. X's office for about x hours." Don't volunteer information that makes the experience seem less....valuable.

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