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Shadowing is useless after a certain point

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Omyss, May 10, 2008.

  1. Omyss

    Omyss Member
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    I don't really get the obsession with shadowing.... you waste hours and hours Watching a doctor do his thing for what exactly? Those hours should go to volunteering in teh community where you actually help people as opposed to being an inconvenience for a doctor and the patients alike.

    Seriosuly if you've shadowed for a gazillion hours.... shame on you:mad:
     
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  3. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    I agree....I mean everyone knew they were gonna apply to medical school before they started shadowing/volunteering...doing those things didnt change their minds.
     
  4. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    And no part of you thought it was fun or interesting to see all these diseases and treatments? All while not being forced to work a 16 hour day or being on call at night? Might I suggest finding another field - perhaps one that you do find interesting.
     
  5. dArroway

    dArroway Gettin' my hood on
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    LULz. Seriously, some SDNers can really come up with some stuff lulz

    If you get an interview make sure you explain your position to your interviewer lolzz
     
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  6. Quadratic

    Quadratic Currently not in function
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    The point is that you're really not doing much. Maybe you're holding the patients folder and reading recent medical history for context but that's probably it. You might as well watch a reality show because it's almost the same.
     
  7. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    Not the point. You aren't doing much during 3rd and 4th years of medical school either, but it's interesting as hell. Like I said, if you think it's boring then find another profession.
     
  8. whoisthedrizzle

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    If you're a troll, touche.

    If not, you couldn't be more wrong. You're trying to tell me that community service helps you make the decision to enter medicine? Bull****. I don't care what Jonny pre-med tells you, its not all about empathy.

    This might not be a popular opinion, but shadowing a doctor confirmed my interest in the profession like nothing else could. Seeing what they do day to day is a lot more relevant than teaching little kids, or filling IV boats, or whatever community service bull**** you do.
     
  9. Begaster

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    With no foundational understanding of the subject matter, what you learn is going to be minimal, and what you do is going to be nothing. I love feeling like a dead weight - it's so exciting!
     
  10. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats
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    The point of shadowing as a pre-med isn't to learn medical things or to be even remotely useful. Like whoisthedrizzle said, its to observe physicians doing what they actually do with 90% of their day (which I guarantee you has never been on any TV show). This is somewhat synonymous with sitting in a CEO's office all day and watching him take phone calls, but the point is that most of your practice in medicine (unless you go into certain select fields) is a whole lot of mundane with the occasional sprinkle of exciting. Shadowing is there to get you familiar with the mundane day to day practice of medicine, so you dont get to medical school and experience a great disappointment because you find out medicine isnt like ER or Grey's Anatomy.

    I will agree with you that shadowing does become quite useless after a point. Once you've seen what you need to have seen, move on. The practice of medicine is radically different between specialties and even hospitals/practices. Find a physician that lets you do more. Try another field out. That will be much more of an asset to you then continuing to see post-op ankles and wrists for months with an orthopod.
     
  11. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    I never said you are there to learn. That's what makes it even better. No tests to worry about, nobody pimping you or expecting you to know anything. What is there to not enjoy? This is what you are doing for the rest of your life.
     
  12. Begaster

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    Not really. When you're the doctor, you're actually making decisions and being useful. When you're shadowing, you're just bored out of your mind, wishing you knew enough to make some sort of decision and be useful. Waste of time.
     
  13. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    or you are engaged in the experience, trying to get a feel for what it will be like as a physician, while at the same time knowing that even though you know very little you have been given the opportunity to learn something that you hopefully find interesting.

    with your attitude, no **** shadowing is boring as hell.
     
  14. shaggybill

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    If you get bored shadowing in one field, move to another. There's always something new to see...
     
  15. Begaster

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    My attitude? What an odd assertion. I've spoken of nothing but shadowing being boring. Is my entire attitude based around my perception of the negatives of shadowing?

    "I hate pie."
    "Of course with your hateful attitude you'd hate pie."
     
  16. mdgator

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    The point of shadowing is not to learn (medicine) or to be useful, but to observe what a physician actually does. It's basically useful to let you see that what goes on on ER is not what it's actually like. It gives you a chance to decide if you could see yourself in that person's (the doctor's) shoes in a few years.

    You should try to find shadowing experiences that will allow you to do this as much as possible. If the surgeon is in the opperating room at 6 am, and his day doesn't end until he sees the last patient in a clinic at 6 pm, you should be there every hour. If a PCP spends 1/3 of his day doing administrative tasks and haggling with insurance companies, you should be there. If all the ER doc sees during her shift are drug seekers and people with no insurance looking for primary care rather than emergent care, you should be there to see how she deals with this.

    I agree with you that at a certain point it becomes useless. That's why I only had about 70 hours of shadowing total, and that was spread out with 5 different doctors in different fields. I saw some fascinating things, got a feel for what their job was like, and moved on. But I didn't go out and volunteer for a thousand hours, either. In fact, I didn't "volunteer", per se, at all. At least not anything that I put on AMCAS. I did things that I enjoyed that actually meant something to me instead. To round out my clinical hours, I got a full time job that allowed me to have patient interaction, (not necessarily in a clinical way), and saved some money and paid some bills. I don't think any adcom would disapprove.
     
  17. mdgator

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    Well you're just being unreasonable...who would hate pie!?
     
  18. SaveThisLabRat

    SaveThisLabRat $700 Billion Dollar Woman
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    F******k! That last part made me laugh so hard. :laugh:

    Like, "If you're trying to advance yourself by gathering knowledge through visual experience instead of picking up trash off the beach, you're a HORRIBLE person. Burn in hell, heathen!"
     
  19. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    Seriously after you spend a day or two with one physician, it becomes pretty mundane.
     
  20. paranoid_eyes

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    yea, that's cause the physician probably didn't really get you involved.

    if you really want some cool shadowing experience, shadow a psychiatrist. i know it seems kind of weird, but if the doctor let's you sit in during his/her session with the patient, it is really cool (at least i thought so). i did this for about a week.

    also, shadow a wide variety of specialties (ENT, ortho, cardiologist, pediatricians, etc.) of course this could be hard if you don't know anyone, but after you really get to know one doctor, you can shadow his/her friends...


    of course, don't shadow one doctor for a whole month. that, i agree, is pretty boring and pointless.
     
  21. mdgator

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    In a lot of (most?) cases, I completely agree. But I still think that shadowing is more valuable, in most instances, than volunteering. If adcoms stopped asking about how many hours you volunteered, and there was no place for it on AMCAS, how many hours would the average pre med volunteer? My bet is, little to none. And adcoms know this.

    I think most pre meds have the wrong idea. They think that it is expected of us to have a million clinical hours logged. I think that adcoms would much rather see applicants with enough clinical experience to be able to communicate effectively about their desire to be physicians, and relate those desires in some way to their experiences. Above and beyond that, they'd rather see us spend time doing things that are actually meaningful to us. I think most pre meds would be much better served devoting their thousand hours to paid employment or research that they actually want to do...or even something fun that they are passionate about...than to do volunteer work shuffling papers and answering telephones.

    That said, there are some who volunteer out of their own altruism completely. Kudos to them. It's very admirable. And if they get meaningful clinical experience from this volunteering, that's even better.
     
  22. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    I agree...but honestly how many ppl do you know....that decided NOT to apply to medicial school because of shadowing experiences???

    They were gonna apply before they started shadowing/volunteering...and they are gonna apply after.
     
  23. mdgator

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    Oh definitely...I don't think it necessarily helps anyone decide to pursue medicine. But I do think if you'd asked me to describe what exactly a doctor does before I began shadowing, and then asked me again after, my answers would have been drastically different. I think this is the case with many pre meds. I mean, right out of high school, as a freshman/sophomore in college, the only clinical exposure I'd ever had was reruns of ER and the time I broke my collar bone and spent an hour in the emergency room. I actually learned a lot from shadowing, despite the limited hours. Not only that, but I got to see a rectal cancer removed, a colostomy bag placed, open heart surgery, lots of kids with psychological disorders and the way the doctor treated them, I saw a giant needle stuck in a guy's stomach, and watched on the fluoroscope as it penetrated on the other side, and I had the misfortune of having to watch a patient's family cope with the death of their father/husband/brother. All in 6 or 7 days worth of shadowing. If you make the right connections and make the most of it, you can actually get some valuable experience and see some fascinating things.
     
  24. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats
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    4 or 5 shadowing stints of a couple hours are pretty sufficient to get a feel for how a given field is. And I repeat, I cannot understate this, medicine is DRASTICALLY different in different fields. Variety is really a great idea, so you don't get locked into one specialty early (bad idea) and so you don't get disenchanted by a bad experience in one field either (my first shadowing was in ER medicine on a slow day and I was bored to s*#t. The highlight was watching an 80 year old woman with a bad nose bleed get cauterized). Plus if you find the right physician, you can really hit the goldmine. A friend of mine found a surgeon to follow in undergrad who would actually let her scrub on procedures, and even snip a few things. And he'd tell the OR support team to shut up if anyone tried to voice objections. Of course he was private practice, so he shouldered a little more of the liability and decision making.

    The point is that curiosity should really be your goal. You're there to absorb, so absorb a lot.
     
  25. J1515

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    You are not supposed to be useful. You're not quite getting the point. Why do you all watch Grey's Anatomy? Why do you all watch House? Because it's interesting. It's fun subject matter. It's not about making decisions. You can go into teaching, nursing, social work, engineering, and a billion other fields if all you want to do is make decisions. There needs to be some ounce of interest somewhere along the way, otherwise you will be miserable for 4 years in medical school.
     
  26. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    :thumbup:

    I'm not sure why you all want to go into medicine if you think the subject matter is so boring.
     
  27. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    I dont find gray's anatomy interesting....does that mean im in trouble?!?!?!:scared:
     
  28. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    Nope. I personally hate the show.
     
  29. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    I know quite a few actually. It is that combined with the courses.

    I think much of the volunteering done is pointless and for the sake of building resumes. Sure, you saved starving orphans in africa or whatever else, but the majority of the people will abandon this cause once they get in. They are doing it strictly to build up their resume. What does volunteering show about wanting to go into medicine? Not much really. It is essentially gaining some sort of job experience. No other career goes "Well, I see you don't have any exposure to medicine, but you did volunteer in the community". This sounds kind of a$$holish, but a small fraction of medicine is strictly about "helping people". If you wanted to ONLY help people there are TONS of other professions to go into. I loved every second of shadowing, even the 3 a.m. morning call to go in with the vascular surgeon. I got to reduce fractures, retract, and a bunch of other stuff. I know most of you didn't get to do that, but I did and I learned a lot more from it than any volunteering experience. Don't get me wrong, I love mentoring my kid and helping at his elementary school. I love volunteering at the neighborhood health services and at the humane society...but I'm not learning much by doing that. I just do it. As cold hearted as it sounds, I probably wouldnt have even considered it if it weren't for the fact that many med schools like it. Now that Im involved, it is a different story and I don't want to leave behind my "little brother" but none-the-less, we aren't doing THAT much good. If you are doing your shadowing gig correctly you should be able to help a few people that way too.
     
  30. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    That depends on the speciality as well. Sometimes you need to establish trust with the physician before getting to do real medical stuff. While it wasn't a highlight, I have checked a prostate. (The patient signed off on it) It wasn't like it was something I was jumping to do, but it was part of the experience. It took more than a day or two to establish the trust with the doctor to be able to do this. I didn't get to reduce the fractures or dislocated shoulder, nor did I get to take history until about the 4th or 5th day of shadowing (15 hours a day).
     
  31. premedrod

    premedrod youtube ruined my apps
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    this is dumb, observations can be boring until you actually do the work so it would make sense to try more productive things that will provide a beneficial service to the community. i think med schools would appreciate that more than just being a shadow and asking lame questions for hours.

    from what i've been told, some doctors leave the profession bc the money isnt worth it...so they do plastics or consulting. this is the real B.S. that you'll probably get hit with once you become a doctor. i'm sure you'll be a sell out too. i'm not saying i wont be a sell out either, but at least im tryign to gain experiences that'll allow me to know if i'm really going into the profession bc i care about ppl and not the money....you should do the same otherwise 7 years of med schooling is not worth it when you can just hit the work force, get a masters with an MBA in like 4 years making good money, unless you dont have a full brain.
     
  32. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    If I got to do that, I would enjoy it more, but I dont think many doctors would feel comfortable allowing a premed do that.
     
  33. scattun

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    The subject matter isn't boring, sitting in the corner and listening to the md do a history on his fifth vague abdominal pain patient is. It's kind of like watching a friend play a video game. It's cool at first since you kind of live vicariously through them exploring the ins and outs of the game. But after a while, you are ready to take the controls yourself. Now because of the way of medical education system is set up, this is not as easy as handing over the controller. So you can either watch your friend play for the next 2-4 years while you get ready and learn the rules or you can do other stuff in the meantime. Personally, I have other stuff (like wasting hours on SDN).
     
  34. iampremed

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    I know of at least one. The person decided against going into medicine after shadowing some plastic surgeon.
     
  35. ZagDoc

    ZagDoc Ears, Noses, and Throats
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    Then find a field that isn't about vague abdominal pain. Hem/Onc gets to see some pretty exotic stuff at least once a week. Trauma surgery is pretty much always interesting, though the best cases happen on call. Ever actually observed a LASIK procedure? Find out why everyone is so enamored with derm. Spend a day in a cath lab. Pick the brain of an intensive care pulmonologist. Get up early and go on surgery rounds.

    There's a ton of opportunities from physicians out there willing to let pre-meds play "heel dog" for a few hours, and all it takes is a few phone calls or emails. Use your connections. Don't have any connections? Make some cold-calls.
     
  36. scattun

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    Yeah, the vague abdominal pains was just an arbitrary symptom. The fifth time watching any of the above will typically bore me. It's not to say it isn't interesting or bad per say, but my personality (and others who aren't big fans of excessive shadowing I would suspect) is geared more towards actual doing than watching. All this holds true except for the picking the mind bit. I am fortunate enough to have a doc in the family so I get a daily dose of medical talk, which is very beneficial, but I'm not sure it would be worth 200 hours of shadowing if I didn't have him around.
     
  37. shaggybill

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    That's awesome that he let you do that. The most the doc I shadow has let me do is hold a wound closed while he sutured it.
     
  38. beachblonde

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    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels like this. I shadowed a bunch of doctors in a variety of fields, and after a while you're just standing there in the corner of the exam room thinking "good grief this is awful." I get why medical schools want students to shadow, but after a point you're not getting anything out of it. It's not like you know anything about pathology or pharmacology, and thus understand the progression and treatment of diseases.

    That, and one of the doctors I shadowed introduced me as "This is beachblonde, she doesn't know anything." Thanks, buddy. One patient asked me if I wanted to look at little kids' heads all day (shadowing a neurologist) and she made it sound like I wanted to be a pedophile. Lovely.
     
  39. J1515

    J1515 Member
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    So then go volunteer in an ER where you'll see tons of different stuff. Go volunteer with a neurologist who sees a wide variety of things. If a surgeon at a busy hospital will let you shadow him do that. You people act like there is no other job in the world and you just have to go into medicine and experiencing the field is absolute torture. Like I said, all of medical school is observing and reading. Get used to it. Sure a 3rd and 4th year medical student does a needle stick or IV here or there, but after your first few it becomes an annoyance and you are just watching everything else.

    When you're sitting in the corner, why don't you start thinking about what it could be based on the history? It doesn't require a ton of knowledge to think abdominal pain: appendicitis (did the pain occur suddenly), gastritis, peptic ulcers, cancer (is the patient a smoker, does he/she have a family history of cancer), kidney stones, gallstones (do they have high cholesterol?), liver/pancreatic disease (are they an alcoholic and they don't even know it)?. These are conditions that everyone knows of so even if you don't know the details about any of them, it should still be fun to try to predict what's going on. You are sorta being interactive without the doctor.

    If you are just sitting there and listening to the doctor and patient say "blah blah blah blah blah blah blah" and waiting for him to do something, then yes that would be boring. But you need to look at the big picture here instead of just waiting to see something "cool".
     
  40. scattun

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    1. The fifth vague abdominal pain was in an ER. Besides which, it was an arbitrary statement which was meant to be generalized, so it actually meant, "Watching a doc do the same things over and over." You are going to get that in any specialty, so place doesn't really matter.

    2. I never said this was the only job out there.

    3. I never said exposure to the field was bad and excruciatingly painful. All I said was excessive activities of the shadowing type at the pre med level can be bad and excruciatingly painful for me.

    4. There is a big difference between shadowing as a premed and your clinical medical school years. As a medical student, you hopefully have a general understanding of what is going on, what questions to ask, why you are asking them, what any of a hundred different answers will mean, and how to diagnose and treat. As a premed, we don't have the basic science background necessary to follow along in such a fashion (this point was handled very well a couple posts above). This is what the first two years of medical school are theoretically for. Furthermore, the so called medical school observation (which I hope is a bit more active then shadowing) is obligatory for licensure whereas premed shadowing isn't. That's enough incentive for me.
     
  41. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    So don't go for a lengthy period of time. I shadowed an anesthesiologist for two shifts, an ER doc for three, and a cardiothoracic surgeon, a general surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon for one day each. It was eight days well spent. Kept some light at the end of the tunnel when I was taking o-chem.
     
  42. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon
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    Pretty interesting discussion after a semi-trollish comment. As a graduating med student I thought I'd drop a few points into the convo.

    There are a few places where I would not recommend extensive shadowing. The first is the OR, the second is the ED. I say this because is it just too easy to focus only on the exciting stuff and pretend the boring stuff isn't there. The OP is right when he says that a few hours should suffice. You're either going to say a) I can handle this and I might even like it or b) this is not for me.

    On one of my ED months there were a bunch of college students who sort of volunteered in the room. You'd better believe that they all flooded into the bay if a trauma came in. That's find, I understand that it can be pretty exciting the first few times but the whole thought of "man, that gunshot to the chest was so cool to see" does not logically lead to "I think I should go study for 4 years and then work 80 hour weeks for another 3"

    Clinic days or hospital rounds would be a much better thing to observe. It will give you a better idea of what life is like for the vast majority of MDs. It also commits you to a more longitudinal patient interaction.

    One final note: your shadowing experiences give you no cred once you get to medical school. There is always the guy who will say, "well when I was shadowing in the X I got to see Y," you do not want to be this guy.
     
  43. Omyss

    Omyss Member
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    lol i forgot i made this thread.

    Maybe i should elaborate a little more:
    Shadowing could be useful for you get an "idea" of what the dcotors typical day to day work is like so that you'll know what you will generally be dealing with. But once you get this idea (which really will take a day or two of shadowing), its time to move on and make better use of your premed time. Really you won't learn all that much as a peremed shadwoing a doc for hours and hours, you don't have enough medical knowledge for it to be an interactive learning experience and you just become (as begaster said) "dead weight", and an annoyance to the patients that have to feel somewhat obliged to let this annoying premed sit in and "observe".

    If you enjoy it, well thats great for you. I'd rather use my premed time to do more useful things like volunteer in the community where my efforts actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE in peoples lives as opposed to jsut being some "dead weight". Once i get into med school there will be plenty of opportunities to learn from docs and shadow (and it will actually be a learning experience then, because you not only have more of an interactive role, but you will have more medically related knowledge that you can apply in these settings).

    I'm glad canada makes it hard-impossible for premeds to shadow, thus preventing premeds from wasting their time on this (by and large) useless endeavour.

    And btw... i didn't shadow a single minute and i got accepted. Yay.
     
  44. bozz

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    Many people I know currently at top 10 schools never shadowed a physician, ever.
     
  45. neuro1617

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    Exactly. I think shadowing is much more useful in determining if you would like medicine than volunteering. How else would you know if you would enjoy spending your days as a doctor? I personally found it extremely interesting and, dare I say, had fun?? There are no tests to take, you get to interact with the patients, there are no senior residents pimping you for answers...If you're bored listening to it all day, what makes you think lectures in medical school and 3rd/4th year are something you wouldn't be bored doing? Now if I had to shadow someone in say, accounting or journalism, I'd be bored out of my mind and find the shadow experience pointless.

    Doing lots of hours gives you an idea of what the job is really like-I stayed 7am-5pm or later & got sent home when the residents did (minus having an on call schedule) but I only did it for a few weeks. Also doing more can give you experience in more fields. Having said that, past a certain point it's pointless to keep doing it b/c you've gotten what you can out of it for our purposes.

    Oh-it was inpatient shadowing so the whole day was very different & we never just stood around. I guess shadowing for hrs on end in the OR can be a different thing as an above poster mentioned.
     
  46. Omyss

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    you don't need lots of hours to do that though... like few days of shadowing and you pretty much get the idea
     
  47. neuro1617

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    Right, I'd spend enough to get an idea of what their days are really like, and I wouldn't skip the shadowing just to do more volunteering, but once you've done that it is pointless to continue even if it's exciting. Some of the posters seemed to think shadowing isn't needed at all....I'm not sure how you could know that you want to do medicine if you don't have anything like it.
     
  48. Bacchus

    Administrator Moderator Physician 10+ Year Member

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    Grey's Anatomy, of course. :smuggrin:
     
  49. Caesar

    Caesar In Memory of Riley Jane
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    I haven't done alot so far but I really like it. I mostly do ER stuff so it's always changing and I get to see the social aspects of medicine plus huge variety of patients. Granted, the docs I've followed have been really awesome and treat me like I know whats going on, yet explain if I don't. It works well for me.
     
  50. neuro1617

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    Ha...or House?? The intensivist on there is now head of surgery & the immunologist is now an ER attending...
     
  51. whoisthedrizzle

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    Then how are you fit to judge it?
     

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