Jun 25, 2009
Last summer, I spent 2 months (approximately 200 hours) as a "clinical intern" for a physician in my hometown. I not only shadowed (at least 4 hours per day), but did office work as well (medical records, etc.). I took a year off of any medical work because I was sick for an extended period of time and certainly did not need to be around patients with compromised immune systems. Now I'm struggling with the idea of volunteering at a hospital in the ER or finding another physician. Is that amount of shadowing sufficient for the time being (I'm only a sophomore), or should I look for more shadowing opportunities. I want to volunteer because I want to feel like I'm actually helping out rather than being more of a nuisance following a doctor around all day. (The physician I shadowed was wonderful, but I know not all of them are very patient.) I just need some advice for what I need to do, or what is the best option? Thanks so much for your help!


Doctor Thunder
10+ Year Member
Jun 8, 2008
Somewhere in SE Wisconsin
Medical Student
Your instincts are correct. You've got a good start on shadowing, plus it's easy to fill in a few hours here and there later. I would definitely lean toward volunteering at this point. As your correctly stated, adcoms look at massive amounts of shadowing as somewhat of a passive use of one's time, while a good volunteering experience gives you exposure to medicine (the good part of shadowing) and allows you to contribute in a positive way (just a good thing in general).


Emergency Medicine
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2006
Attending Physician
I had 0 shadowing when I applied.

Definitely do some volunteering next.


10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 24, 2009
The shadowing you've done is more than sufficient. If you were to do more (which you should only do if really interested/for fun), I'd pick 1-2 different specialties, and probably keep the total time to 8-16 hours each for them since you have already done so much.

I agree that working or volunteering in a clinical environment is your priority now. If you happen to meet a friedly doctor in the process, you can ask her for some shadowing time if you have the time (over breaks is great).