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Monk11

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Maybe because I had zero shadowing hours when I applied last cycle, but I don't quite understand these astronomical numbers that I read some premeds are investing in shadowing. I can see maybe 20 hrs would be helpful, but hundreds?? Isn't there a point of diminishing return? And then I read some get LOR's from a shadowed phys? Does shadowing strengthen your app that much after 20 hrs vs studying more for MCAT, volunteer work, or just relaxing? I don't understand...
Completely agree.. and I'm surprised that the physicians let it go on for upwards of 100/200 hours. Don't they get sick of your face?

I think it only strengthens your app in that if you don't have other clinical experience (eg volunteering) then you can always point to your 200 hours shadowing.
 

dr seuss

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I don't think you get that much out of shadowing one doctor more than 20 hrs. I do think, however, that shadowing one for 20 hrs and shadowing like 5 other specialties one day each would be a lot better than just shadowing one.

Some people love shadowing, though. I know one girl who has over 200 hours.
 

Mattabet

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:thumbup: Agree. I've heard from several sources that shadowing is looked upon as passive. Some is great, but if you're up around 200 hours, your time is much better spent actually doing something, rather than watching something get done.

That said, I can see how some people just kind of fall ass-backward into shadowing - they're not doing it instead of volunteering or somesuch. And it's not a detriment; at least they'll know the basics of a bunch of specialties.
 

YouNeverKnow22

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I personally love shadowing, and it doesnt interfere with my other activities. Maybe because I started so early in the process, but I really do enjoy it because it's as close as your going to be "on the job"
 

ReptarBar

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im aiming to shadow a bunch of specialties this summer...i couldnt find a tutoring job, not taking summer classes, cant really volunteer anywhere at home...shadowing a few hours a day seems like the only thing to do.
 

RavensGal

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I'm shadowing a doctor a few hours a day all summer and plan on getting a LOR from him. While I'm not sure whether having 100+ hours is going to be looked upon favorably on my app, I do have 100+ hours of volunteering as well. I feel as if you don't get the feel of the speciality with just 10 or 20 hours. There have been some really slow days (or weeks) at the office where I didn't feel like I was learning anything. But then there were weeks where the patients were coming in with more diverse problems or more complex procedures needed to be done. Also you really get a feel for the lifestyle of that specialty after being around it for a longer period of time.
 

ReptarBar

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hmm i think it would be better to shadow more doctors for less time than one for 100+. also, lizzym has stated that unless you do some kind of project with the doctor, a LOR from him/her is utterly useless and will probably be discarded.

i shadowed a pediatrician last week, and i personally got a feel for the work after the very first day...shadowing her for 100+ hours would be ridiculous.
 

apumic

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hmm i think it would be better to shadow more doctors for less time than one for 100+. also, lizzym has stated that unless you do some kind of project with the doctor, a LOR from him/her is utterly useless and will probably be discarded.

i shadowed a pediatrician last week, and i personally got a feel for the work after the very first day...shadowing her for 100+ hours would be ridiculous.

Right. What's the doc going to say? ...


  • S/he had a fast gate, quickly outpacing other hospital staff in chasing after me
  • S/he knows when and how to shut up during an operation
  • S/he asked good questions at appropriate times
  • S/he appears to be an attractive man/woman
I mean...seriously? Shadowing LOR = worse than no LOR at all ("Did s/he really have no one else who could have written an LOR for him/her?!")
 

amine2086

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I agree with most of the posters here. I have been shadowing three different physicians for a month or so. After shadowing for about 30 hours, I felt like I had a very good idea about what a physician does on a given day. I think it is good to shadow different physicians but, in my opinion, shadowing one physician for more than 30 hours is kind of waste of time. As far as letter of recommendation, my premed advisor told me it is NOT a good idea to get LOR from physician as the interaction is very brief. He also said medical schools could care less if your LOR is from an MD vs your professor. Unless you are applying DO (I think which requires LOR from a DO), get LORs from professors, employers, research mentors that knows you the best.
 

JonathanMD

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Completely agree.. and I'm surprised that the physicians let it go on for upwards of 100/200 hours. Don't they get sick of your face?
Exactly how I would put it.

At some point I started running out of questions. There were only so many sutures I could watch him perform. Sure there were interesting cases here or there, but I started feeling kind of useless and in the way.

And I only did 45 hours.
 

Omni

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I need to start shadowing this fall. (As of right now, I have about 600 hours of volunteering at a first aid squad. By the time I apply, I will have close to 1000 hours and by the time interviews start rolling around, I will have 1000+ hours in volunteering just from first aid squad alone)

The way I plan to shadow is by just spending no more than 10 hours, maybe up to 30 hours if I plan on shadowing one who is on call (like a trauma surgeon or something), per doctor. I think spending 100 hours over 5-10 specialties is a lot more enriching than spending 100 hours on just 1 doctor.
 

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Right. What's the doc going to say? ...


  • S/he had a fast gate, quickly outpacing other hospital staff in chasing after me
  • S/he knows when and how to shut up during an operation
  • S/he asked good questions at appropriate times
  • S/he appears to be an attractive man/woman
I mean...seriously? Shadowing LOR = worse than no LOR at all ("Did s/he really have no one else who could have written an LOR for him/her?!")
I disagree. I shadowed a resident and he will be writing me a letter. If you actually get to know, and have serious conversations with the physician you are shadowing they can get a sense of how serious you are about medicine. Through them knowing you, they may be able to write a letter reflecting your character, personal qualities, or maturity. It may not hold as much weight as a letter from a professor, but it will be a supplement to your application. With that said, not all shadowing experiences will yield a personal relationship with the physician; or atleast enough to obtain the aforementioned letter.
 
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TobiasFunkeMDFACS

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I personally love shadowing, and it doesnt interfere with my other activities. Maybe because I started so early in the process, but I really do enjoy it because it's as close as your going to be "on the job"
you can't think of it as "on the job" because physicans do all the work in their head, and watching them doesn't do you any good. Nurses who watch physians all their life will never become one.
 

amakhosidlo

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I guess this is my confusion, shadowing can be helpful for the candidate to get some exposure to medicine but I don't think in general adcoms care much about this particular activity, certainly not enough to include LOR's in your application from shadowed phys.

LizzyM says: "Most medical schools do not ask for these letters from physicians. They take you at your word when you say that you've shadowed. Most of the letters in support of a student-shadow's application to medical school are of no help in determining whether to grant an interview invitation."

So let it be written, so let it be done.
Not to contradict the all-knowing lizzM, but I feel like the point of a physician LOR is not to provide proof you've shadowed, but to speak to your character and personality, and how these traits would serve you well as a future physician. I don't think adcoms give them any more weight than a letter from an employer or other long-time professional acquaintance, however.

Wrt people acquiring massive numbers of hours shadowing; No, it certainly doesn't add anything to an application in itself, but spending a significant amount of time with a physician can often open up opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available after, say, 10 hrs following the him or her around. Pursue those opportunities, and suddenly you're engaged (No longer passive) and the doc knows you in an entirely new capacity.
 
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mic2377

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Now, a Dr. may have more to say depending on the student in question. Not all students are a typical pre-med with little to no hands-on healthcare experience. I have spent ~150 hrs with the Dr. I currently shadow, and the learning curve is finally starting to taper off.

I have actually had many great conversations with the Dr. that I shadow, as I have alot of prior healthcare experience. We talked about various clinical signs for GI tract disorders, how it pertained to patients I had seen on the ambulance, etc. He was very impressed that I knew about Murphy's, Kehr's, Turner's signs, etc. He was also in EMS before he became a physician, which was also another common ground.

I also got to do some airway management with the anesthesiologist, which was a big plus. He also took me through the hospital when he rounds on patients, to the ICU, the OB unit, radiology, etc. so I have gotten to see virtually every field in the hospital. I also got to help out with some patient care stuff, ie, anything covered under my EMT-I scope of practice.

After all of this, (and playing some tennis together on the weekends), I got an INCREDIBLE recommendation letter, which essentially said "this student is great, he works very hard, is knowledgable beyond expectation, gets along w/patients, let him into medical school, etc. etc."

So, I would argue that your experience can vary significantly, as can the quality of the letter. How an adcom will interpret it, I am unsure. But, I know that it was a great experience for me. I guess that is what matters in the end.
 
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Hoody

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I disagree. I shadowed a resident and he will be writing me a letter. If you actually get to know, and have serious conversations with the physician you are shadowing they can get a sense of how serious you are about medicine. Through them knowing you, they may be able to write a letter reflecting your character, personal qualities, or maturity. It may not hold as much weight as a letter from a professor, but it will be a supplement to your application. With that said, not all shadowing experiences will yield a personal relationship with the physician; or at least enough to obtain the aforementioned letter.
Agree. Since I work closely with physicians (at a hospital) all day long, day in and day out, I am going to have at least one or two of them write my LORs. The same docs I am working with are the same docs I am going to be shadowing. I have discussed my ambitions with them in detail, they know my work ethic, they know I am competent to take care of their patients, they know I have a love for helping people, etc. I was under the impression that this would be a one up because an already licensed physician knows what it takes to be a doctor and would be a better judge of that than someone writing an LOR who has really no knowledge or connection to the medical profession. A great LOR is a great LOR and a great LOR from a non-medical professional is certainly better than a so-so LOR from a medical professional, but I'm disappointed that a strong LOR from a physician doesn't get me any brownie points. :(
 

LiveUninhibited

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Right. What's the doc going to say? ...


  • S/he had a fast gate, quickly outpacing other hospital staff in chasing after me
  • S/he knows when and how to shut up during an operation
  • S/he asked good questions at appropriate times
  • S/he appears to be an attractive man/woman
I mean...seriously? Shadowing LOR = worse than no LOR at all ("Did s/he really have no one else who could have written an LOR for him/her?!")

I don't think the ability to ask intelligent questions, or demonstrating maturity/interest in clinical situations, is trivial. While I think clinical volunteering is definitely better than shadowing, or anything else for that matter, that doesn't mean that shadowing and getting a LOR from it is a waste of time. Meaningful clinical volunteering isn't always available. I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for a free clinic in the last place I lived, but where I live now they only want skilled volunteers, you know with an RN or MD. There is hospital volunteering, but it's hard to say whether that will be a high quality experience or not. They will probably try to keep you in a corner organizing files. :laugh:

I guess this is my confusion, shadowing can be helpful for the candidate to get some exposure to medicine but I don't think in general adcoms care much about this particular activity, certainly not enough to include LOR's in your application from shadowed phys.

LizzyM says: "Most medical schools do not ask for these letters from physicians. They take you at your word when you say that you've shadowed. Most of the letters in support of a student-shadow's application to medical school are of no help in determining whether to grant an interview invitation."

So let it be written, so let it be done.
Without a question, LizzyM is the most respected member of studentdoctor. However, she is only one adcom from only one school. And no two shadowing experiences are created equal.

In general, I can't imagine how some shadowing would not be helpful, though certainly there would be diminishing returns for shadowing in general and at specific sites. When you volunteer you may not precisely see everything the physicians do as you're busy with your own menial tasks. It's important to have exposure to the actual practice of medicine to know if it's what you want to do.
 

LiveUninhibited

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Right. What's the doc going to say? ...


  • S/he had a fast gate, quickly outpacing other hospital staff in chasing after me
  • S/he knows when and how to shut up during an operation
  • S/he asked good questions at appropriate times
  • S/he appears to be an attractive man/woman
I mean...seriously? Shadowing LOR = worse than no LOR at all ("Did s/he really have no one else who could have written an LOR for him/her?!")

I don't think the ability to ask intelligent questions, or demonstrating maturity/interest in clinical situations, is trivial. While I think clinical volunteering is definitely better than shadowing, or anything else for that matter, that doesn't mean that shadowing and getting a LOR from it is a waste of time. Meaningful clinical volunteering isn't always available. I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for a free clinic in the last place I lived, but where I live now they only want skilled volunteers, you know with an RN or MD. There is hospital volunteering, but it's hard to say whether that will be a high quality experience or not. They will probably try to keep you in a corner organizing files. :laugh:

I guess this is my confusion, shadowing can be helpful for the candidate to get some exposure to medicine but I don't think in general adcoms care much about this particular activity, certainly not enough to include LOR's in your application from shadowed phys.

LizzyM says: "Most medical schools do not ask for these letters from physicians. They take you at your word when you say that you've shadowed. Most of the letters in support of a student-shadow's application to medical school are of no help in determining whether to grant an interview invitation."

So let it be written, so let it be done.
Without a question, LizzyM is the most respected member of studentdoctor. However, she is only one adcom from only one school. And no two shadowing experiences are created equal.

In general, I can't imagine how some shadowing would not be helpful, though certainly there would be diminishing returns for shadowing in general and at specific sites. When you volunteer you may not precisely see everything the physicians do as you're busy with menial tasks. It's important to have exposure to the actual practice of medicine to know if it's what you want to do.
 

ReptarBar

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well you guys are crossing a fine line here. if you volunteer at a hospital around certain doctors, and then you shadow said doctors and get a LOR from one, that is acceptable.

what is not acceptable (and what lizzym meant) is getting a LOR from a doctor you found randomly and shadowed. he/she has not seen you do any work or handle responsibilities, so a LOR from that doc wouldnt be worth anything.

a lot of you seem to have very close relationships with doctors whom youve shadowed...i dont know what a LOR from them would mean (as in i dont know if it will be good/bad).
 

atallen2

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I think the more you shadow 1 physician the better. I have shadowed the same doctor for 300+ hours this summer and it has really been one of the greatest experiences of my college career.
I think it is helpful because it really shows you the true side of medicine and your "stick-to-it ness". I shadow my doctor all day everyday and sometimes you see really cool things, and than other days are slow and boring. It was really a wake-up call for me because shows like House and Grey's Anatomy make you think that it is always fast paced do or die situations. Shadowing my doctor for so long has helped me learn alot more about medicine in general, patient care, the mountain of paperwork doctors always have to do, and really just the general atmosphere in which doctors work.
I also think it helps that I am shadowing a doctor who I really like working with, and who has been helpful every step of the way. I don't wake up every morning and go "Well I am off to go shadow Dr. X". I wake up and say "Another day of work, I wonder what kind of stuff I am going to see today." With the right attitude I think the more you shadow the more beneficial it is.
 

JonathanMD

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I think the more you shadow 1 physician the better. I have shadowed the same doctor for 300+ hours this summer and it has really been one of the greatest experiences of my college career.
I think it is helpful because it really shows you the true side of medicine and your "stick-to-it ness". I shadow my doctor all day everyday and sometimes you see really cool things, and than other days are slow and boring. It was really a wake-up call for me because shows like House and Grey's Anatomy make you think that it is always fast paced do or die situations. Shadowing my doctor for so long has helped me learn alot more about medicine in general, patient care, the mountain of paperwork doctors always have to do, and really just the general atmosphere in which doctors work.
I also think it helps that I am shadowing a doctor who I really like working with, and who has been helpful every step of the way. I don't wake up every morning and go "Well I am off to go shadow Dr. X". I wake up and say "Another day of work, I wonder what kind of stuff I am going to see today." With the right attitude I think the more you shadow the more beneficial it is.
I disagree.

If you want more than a glimpse, get a real medically related job. You obviously have the drive and are willing to put in the hours. Might as well put into practice what you've learned and test yourself with real patients with real responsibilities.

Of course, there could be exceptions. You could have landed a great shadowing opportunity. I'm speaking generally.
 
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I went to a high school specifically designed for health professions, and got the awesome opportunity to shadow doctors during school. I spent 6 weeks in the Cath Lab at a great hospital, and 9 weeks at the VA with the anesthesiology department, 6 hours a week. I loved it! It was semi-long term, though I'm hoping to contact my high school teacher to see if I can go back.

When I was at the Cath Lab, I pretty much "got the feel of it" pretty quickly, though it was still interesting to watch.

One of the anesthesiologists said that the VA anesthesiology dept is strange, so I'm not exactly sure how it compares to a "normal" one but I got to watch many procedures ranging from breast reduction to removal of tumors to dental surgery to neurosurgery, and even a double bypass. All performed in the same 10 rooms with a different anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist, who were all incredibly open and friendly.

So I guess my point is, it really depends on what specialty youre shadowing.

Also I have to ask, are all of my high school shadowing/volunteering experiences in the hospital worthless?
 

Narmerguy

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Not to contradict the all-knowing lizzM, but I feel like the point of a physician LOR is not to provide proof you've shadowed, but to speak to your character and personality, and how these traits would serve you well as a future physician. I don't think adcoms give them any more weight than a letter from an employer or other long-time professional acquaintance, however.
That's a tall order for someone to pick up on while they're doing a job that has people's health and well-being on the line. It doesn't help that you don't do much but ask questions and follow them around.
 
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atallen2

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I think there is a really big point here that alot of people on this thread and on SDN in general miss.
I think alot of people on here fall into a "1 type of applicant fits med schools" criteria. Everyone here thinks that the best applicant in the world is someone with 487947329847298472 hours of community service and someone who has shadowed 483942093420984 doctors.
For some people that is probably true, they get alot of going around and seeing so much. Some poeple volunteer a few hours and shadow one or two doctors and get alot out of that.
I think the point is not how much you shadow or what you do, but what you get out of it.
When it comes down to it, the person who shadowed a billion hours in the hospital but can't say anything meaningful about it in a med school interview is up the creek without a paddle.
I think it is way more about quality than quantity and quite honestly what works for one person doesn't work for everyone.
So if you get burnt out of working at a hospital or with the same doctor go be an EMT or work at a nursing home ect. But if you enjoy what you do and get alot out of it than I say go for it and do it for as long as you are happy.
I think people need to realize that nobody is the perfect super applicant and that med schools want people who are unique and enjoy what they do versus people who are just volunteering to pad their resume doing things that don't mean anything to them...just my take though.
 

ReptarBar

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you dont need 100 hours to get a feel for a doctor's specialty, though...thats the thing. only after 10 hours shadowing a pediatrician did i fully understand 90% of what the patients' major concerns were, how the practice was run, and how the doctor responds to each concern. obviously some specialties (probably most surgical specialties) would take longer, but i would have gotten bored i had to see any more immunizations, infant physicals, little cuts/scratches, and colds.

there is no definite answer for balancing quality vs. quantity. i plan to shadow each doctor until i feel i have seen the majority of what goes on there...
 

apumic

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I don't think the ability to ask intelligent questions, or demonstrating maturity/interest in clinical situations, is trivial. While I think clinical volunteering is definitely better than shadowing, or anything else for that matter, that doesn't mean that shadowing and getting a LOR from it is a waste of time. Meaningful clinical volunteering isn't always available. I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for a free clinic in the last place I lived, but where I live now they only want skilled volunteers, you know with an RN or MD. There is hospital volunteering, but it's hard to say whether that will be a high quality experience or not. They will probably try to keep you in a corner organizing files. :laugh:

Without a question, LizzyM is the most respected member of studentdoctor. However, she is only one adcom from only one school. And no two shadowing experiences are created equal.

In general, I can't imagine how some shadowing would not be helpful, though certainly there would be diminishing returns for shadowing in general and at specific sites. When you volunteer you may not precisely see everything the physicians do as you're busy with your own menial tasks. It's important to have exposure to the actual practice of medicine to know if it's what you want to do.
Shadowing is actually a relatively new phenomenon in the world of med schools apps. My understanding is that a couple of decades ago, shadowing as a pre-med was basically unheard of. Even now, while it may imply some knowledge of the setting in which physicians practice, you are extremely limited in what you can learn from shadowing as a pre-med.

Additionally, while I agree asking good questions, etc. is not a trivial skill, it's really a skill your other letter writers would be better equipped to answer. While you may not agree, I have personally spoken with the director of a residency program about this exact topic and his response was identical to that of Lizzy's. Sure, "just another adcom member," but professionals often think in similar terms. Neither of these medical professionals who participate in the training of future medical professionals think shadowing is of much value for pre-meds.

On the other hand, some of you have mentioned volunteer-type experiences within your shadowing. If the doc is having you actually do some of the work, it is really no longer shadowing. At that point, it really becomes a sort of internship and would make for a great LOR. My concern would be that if all you did was shadow and ask questions, a strong, effective LOR is unlikely. Sure, the doc might be willing to write one, but, while the things I mentioned earlier are not exactly trivial, having an LOR writer only write about how you ask decent questions and walk fast isn't going to get you into medical school. Also, the doc is going to mention in what capacity s/he knew you and if that capacity is "s/he shadowed me for 50 hours," they're probably going to rate it about as highly as the LOR your dog wrote that said "s/he was a nice master, fed me every day, and was gentle when stroking by nose and scratching behind the ears."

you dont need 100 hours to get a feel for a doctor's specialty, though...thats the thing. only after 10 hours shadowing a pediatrician did i fully understand 90% of what the patients' major concerns were, how the practice was run, and how the doctor responds to each concern. obviously some specialties (probably most surgical specialties) would take longer, but i would have gotten bored i had to see any more immunizations, infant physicals, little cuts/scratches, and colds.
Just don't say that in an interview! I know you didn't mean for it to be offensive or arrogant-sounding, but saying you "fully understood" 90% of pxs' major concerns is pretty ignorant and/or arrogant considering you're pre-med (it'd actually sound pretty bad coming out of an MS4's mouth in an FP residency interview, I'd think).


"Not to contradict the all-knowing lizzM, but I feel like the point of a physician LOR is not to provide proof you've shadowed, but to speak to your character and personality, and how these traits would serve you well as a future physician. I don't think adcoms give them any more weight than a letter from an employer or other long-time professional acquaintance, however."

That's a tall order for someone to pick up on while they're doing a job that has people's health and well-being on the line. It doesn't help that you don't do much but ask questions and follow them around.
Absolutely agreed. Being as most physicians have far more to worry about during their time working than thinking about their little shadow, it's highly unlikely most docs would be able to give a good assessment of your character and personality based solely upon your questions. There's really not much your questions are going to say about your character anyway. Character really doesn't show unless one is under some sort of stress. Trying to assess character w/o there being anything to stress and strain it is like trying to test the hardness of a metal without touching it. Yes, you can look at it, but you don't really know how tough it is until you attempt to bend, twist, and hammer at it. Personality, as well, is not really tested by asking questions. Sure, you could be extroverted vs. introverted while shadowing and, perhaps, some quirkiness or awkwardness might come out if you eat lunch w/ the docs in the doctor's lounge but beyond that it's not like the doc is going to get a real feel for your "personality" over a few hours of shadowing.
 
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UVAbme2009

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I don't know.

An LOR from a doctor I shadowed throughout the duration of the cycle helped me out a ton.

But really, I just enjoyed being in the clinic. Not everything you do that is medically related has to be for your application.
 

ReptarBar

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no, i did not mean it that way. i just meant to say that i got a feel for pediatrics now and have more clinical experience.

i dont understand either, is shadowing not necessary or something? it seems to be the BEST way to get medical experience to me. i plan to volunteer in the hospital in the fall...but what else can i do? i dont want clinical experience to be an issue when i apply. i figured shadowing broadly and volunteering for 2 years would cut it.
 

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I don't know.

An LOR from a doctor I shadowed throughout the duration of the cycle helped me out a ton.

But really, I just enjoyed being in the clinic. Not everything you do that is medically related has to be for your application.
Thank you...this is exactly what I was getting at.
 

RavensGal

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I agree with Atallen2. I believe that it is quality over quantity. I'm shadowing an orthopaedic surgeon a few days a week all summer and yeah I'm getting a little tired of seeing arthritis day after day but then there are the unique cases that come in each day where you see another aspect of the specialty. I've been keeping a running list of everything I've been learning about the specialty and each day I have new things to add. Plus the longer I'm there the more surgeries I get to observe which are always interesting.
Plus its not like all my shadowing hours are coming from this specialty. A majority of them are but I have shadowed 2 other specialties and have plans to shadow two more.
Not all people shadow just to put it on their resume, I really enjoy shadowing and being in the office and seeing patients all day. And having such close ties to a doctor could be great networking opportunity in the future.
Also it's not like I'm banking on that LOR to get me in. I will also have a LOR from a PI, plus 2 or 3 other professors. Its just an added LOR ( not to mention osteopathic schools require a LOR from a physician and depending on the school it could be an MD)
 

apumic

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I don't know.

An LOR from a doctor I shadowed throughout the duration of the cycle helped me out a ton.

But really, I just enjoyed being in the clinic. Not everything you do that is medically related has to be for your application.

I absolutely agree. I would suggest shadowing for its own merit. It will help you understand whether or not you really want to be a physician. It is now, however, a good source of that much-desired "clinical experience." I'd argue that even volunteering, while marginally more valuable than shadowing, pales in comparison with the kinds of clinical experience in which you are truly working alongside medical staff (i.e., tech positions, clinical research RAs, etc.). Those positions are much harder to gain but I'd guess the LORs from them would be far more valuable than anything you could get from shadowing or volunteering. Being paid for a job means you're getting scrutinized much more closely and that you are much more highly valued by the hospital. Those things translate into more realistic LORs as well as a more impressive experience. In addition, being an actual employee opens up all kinds of new doors to training experiences, more in-dept kinds of shadowing that HIPAA would prohibit if you're not an employee, the ability to contribute while shadowing (turning it into a de facto internship), etc.

Overall, though, I do think it's important to remember you don't have to always do things for the sake of your application. However, this thread is generaly geared toward maximizing one's applications, hence the strong focus on how LORs from docs you've shadowed may or may not really hold any weight with an adcom.
 

Longshanks

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I disagree. I shadowed a resident and he will be writing me a letter. If you actually get to know, and have serious conversations with the physician you are shadowing they can get a sense of how serious you are about medicine. Through them knowing you, they may be able to write a letter reflecting your character, personal qualities, or maturity. It may not hold as much weight as a letter from a professor, but it will be a supplement to your application. With that said, not all shadowing experiences will yield a personal relationship with the physician; or atleast enough to obtain the aforementioned letter.
I agree with this, I think it depends on what you do and in what capacity you know the physician. I had one shadowing experience, where I got to see a bunch of different specialties one week, and was a great learning experience, but I would never have asked any of them for a letter. They didn't get to know me, and it was completely passive. However, another the doctor who did end up writing a letter for me is someone whom I've known for over a year through work, and shadowing was an aside to work, something extra, and since I already knew the system from working and where everything was the doctor let me take care of discharge instructions, having patients sign forms, or bringing them to radiology; and some of the interns/residents would let me assist in a minimal capacity, I was an extra set of hands. In that sense, that doctor who did write me a LOR knew me previously from being my supervisor essentially when I did work there, our conversations and the shadowing experience. The staff there also let me interact with patients, so it wasn't like I was purely a fly on the wall.

Does that make up for other extracurriculars or volunteering? Absolutely not, but its another experience of immersion and understanding of the health care field. IMHO, if you have a good shadowing experience, and get to know the physician, why not get a letter (especially if you apply to a DO school that wants or 'recommends' a DO letter - yes I know this the MD forum). However, if you're just standing there twiddling your thumbs, and you don't gain anything more than what you could have from watching discovery health, then don't get the letter because its going to be crap. Its the same rational behind not getting a letter from a professor simply because you did well in the class, but because he or she knows who you are as a student and aspiring student doctor - if you aced it but sat in the back row and never peeped a word, what the hell is that professor going to say about you?
 

vickpick

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people love shadowing because they love how it boosts and app and u dont have to do ****...lol
 
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I dont know...shadowing has really been a big question for me..I have around 300 hours of hospital volunterring..will be about 600 when I apply..I work around doctors a lot..is shadowing really necessary?..To me, volunteering is much for fun...well it's just me..
 
OP
imer

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...
 
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Allopathic13

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I hate to contradict the wisdoms of LIZZYm but she certainly does not represent the collective personas of the various adcoms in this country. Because, as anyone who has applied to medical school knows, the process at many moments seems arbitrary.

Thus, I will have to reject the advice of Lizzym. I shadowed for a total of 225 hours. I rotated between cardio-thoracic surgeons-family practice docs-and cardiologists. First, I will assert, with the utmost confidence, that those of you who claim to have to have witnessed and understand all that you basically could in your 10-30 hours of shadowing are overwhelmingly ignorant to the intricacies/spontaneity of our chosen profession. Even in all my time of shadowing I was learning new procedures, techniques, and treatments. Towards the end of my cardiology rotation-after watching about 120 heart catheterizations- the lead invent-cardiologist gave me several opportunities to actually partake in the procedure through teaching me-hands on- how to thread different wires through the arteries and inflate angioplasty balloons in order to place stents. The type of experience is invaluable.

Further, the notion of diminishing returns is ridiculous, especially on a personal basis as a preparation for medical school. Much of the knowledge I have garnered is invaluable in some M1-M3 courses.

Finally, I had the three doctors I followed write a joint LOR. Each spoke to my ability to deal with patients, expand and utilize the medical knowledge I had learned to to make diagnoses when tested by them, and my general affinity and ease of operation within a medical forum. Needless, to say this letter carried much weight with adcoms-some top 15 schools. And my stats were not incredible-3.6 GPA 39S on the MCAT.


Shadowing can be your greatest friend if done in the right manner.
 

Kaustikos

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people love shadowing because they love how it boosts and app and u dont have to do ****...lol
I would probably take shadowing a proctologist over the type of volunteering gigs people do/have done.

And, let it be known that just although Allopathic Schools don't require a LOR from a Physician, Osteopathic Schools do. I only say this because it is becoming more and more common occurance for people to apply to both DO and MD school (This is NOT a debate, so don't make it one). I realize this is a pre-allo forum, but this is a discussion about shadowing for medical school application-purpose' sake.
 

dr seuss

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What, we're assuming that you don't learn anything at all at the end? That's a pretty presumptous remark.
No, that's not what I was saying. He said the notion of diminishing returns is ridiculous.

He is saying that in his 225 hours he learned 3 times as much as he would have in 75. I find that hard to believe. I'm not saying you won't get twice as much out of 225 compared to 75. But do you really get as much out of the last 75 hours as you do the first 75? You are still learning at the the end, but I think the marginal benefit at the end is less than at the beginning.
 

Tildy

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A few points:


First, it is obvious that anyone who is an adcom writing on SDN, or in a book, is providing their own personal views on admissions issues. These views are informed by their interaction with other members of their own school's adcom, possibly more than one school, but ultimately are not intended to reflect all schools. There is no national standard about things like volunteering or shadowing, just ideas as to how these might inform an admissions committee or its members.

However, if advice from any adcom that is anonymous related to school is be helpful, then there is some assumption that it is generally reflective of how faculty or students who make student selections might look at things. Whether those who read SDN believe in the generalizability of such statements by any given adcom is, of course, up to them.

Now then, in the most common situation, an applicant will have spent time, perhaps a day, perhaps a week, perhaps a few hours/week for a few months shadowing one or two or three doctors in different types of settings. This experience is considered as providing some evidence that the applicant knows a bit about what doctors do by virtue of seeing it and talking to the docs. Not having that experience can be acceptable to many adcoms if other medical experiences are present. Some adcoms would be more concerned about the lack of shadowing. There is no absolute about this or an absolute on the number of hours that provides this type of experience.

Letters of recommendation from the doctor who was shadowed in this type of situation are minimally informative in most cases. They are all positive, all speak to issues of maturity and interest in medicine, etc. I have read literally thousands of such letters and can not really recall many that have stood out or made a major difference in how I viewed an applicant. In contrast, letters from research mentors and at times professors who know a student well, are more commonly unique and informative.

There are exceptions to anything. If one shadows for hundreds of hours in a single setting, and are doing hands on procedures, that goes beyond usual shadowing and borders on "assisting without pay." This may or may not be seen as uniquely positive, but is not typical. Letters from a group of doctors that one worked with in this way, or in a paid position, would not be seen as typical "shadowing" letters.

Whether most premeds can or should seek that type of experience is questionable. It is certainly not common or necessary. It may be of importance to some applicants.
 

JJMrK

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I hate to contradict the wisdoms of LIZZYm but she certainly does not represent the collective personas of the various adcoms in this country. Because, as anyone who has applied to medical school knows, the process at many moments seems arbitrary.

Thus, I will have to reject the advice of Lizzym. I shadowed for a total of 225 hours. I rotated between cardio-thoracic surgeons-family practice docs-and cardiologists. First, I will assert, with the utmost confidence, that those of you who claim to have to have witnessed and understand all that you basically could in your 10-30 hours of shadowing are overwhelmingly ignorant to the intricacies/spontaneity of our chosen profession. Even in all my time of shadowing I was learning new procedures, techniques, and treatments. Towards the end of my cardiology rotation-after watching about 120 heart catheterizations- the lead invent-cardiologist gave me several opportunities to actually partake in the procedure through teaching me-hands on- how to thread different wires through the arteries and inflate angioplasty balloons in order to place stents. The type of experience is invaluable.

Further, the notion of diminishing returns is ridiculous, especially on a personal basis as a preparation for medical school. Much of the knowledge I have garnered is invaluable in some M1-M3 courses.

Finally, I had the three doctors I followed write a joint LOR. Each spoke to my ability to deal with patients, expand and utilize the medical knowledge I had learned to to make diagnoses when tested by them, and my general affinity and ease of operation within a medical forum. Needless, to say this letter carried much weight with adcoms-some top 15 schools. And my stats were not incredible-3.6 GPA 39S on the MCAT.


Shadowing can be your greatest friend if done in the right manner.
Pretty great stats, I would say
 

YouNeverKnow22

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you can't think of it as "on the job" because physicans do all the work in their head, and watching them doesn't do you any good. Nurses who watch physians all their life will never become one.
disagree. I'm a student learning, I'm not ever going to know what it is like to be doctor if I don't spend time with one.....and surgeons do work with their hands as well if you didn't know.
 

Allopathic13

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First, let me apologize-I feel that my first post was a little too argumentative-sorry about that. :)


to answer dr. suess's question: I would certainly agree with your assesment that I was taking in smaller amounts of knowledge on average by the end of my "internship" but I really don't look at diminishing returns in terms of volume of material learned. For instance, my first day I was swarmed with new information and exposure-i.e. the business aspects of running a family practice, insurance billing procedures, a wealth of maldaies both benign and terminal--- but my second to last week a patient presented to us with a multitude of symptoms-it ended up that the patient had both sarcoidosis and endocarditis-this was a great lesson in learning not to rely on Occam's razor and to sometimes heed hickham's dictum when diagnosing.

So returns IMO tend to be more abstract and intangible.


concerning my stats jimmer-i know my MCAT is good-but I was highlighting my low GPA compared to many of my counterparts with 3.7s and above

all the best!