I have three years of undergrad left and will apply to med schools when the application season opens my last year.

I have some questions about shadowing. I will start will start a volunteering position this fall and keeping doing it (once per week) for at least one academic year and then maybe continue here and there. I want to apply to both DO and MD schools, and several DO schools require a letter from an MD or DO.

Do most people shadow long term (like once a week for a certain time). Can anyone share about their duration of shadowing?


Walkin' on Sunshine
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2006
East coast-ish
Medical Student
I shadowed one doctor through all of his clinical visits and surgeries for a week straight. That way, I understood how the whole thing worked from initial consultations, to surgeries, to follow-ups. I got a lot out of it.

Another doctor, I shadow whenever I feel like it really. Some days I stay for 3 hours, others I stay for 8. I have been going about once or twice a week on average for the past three months. He has really gotten to know me well and lets me help him with patients sometimes now.

You can just go once or twice for a couple of hours, but don't expect to take as much away about how the clinic is run and such.


Pediatric Anesthesiologist
Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2004
Attending Physician

Anyway, I found my most valuable shadowing experience was very long term. I went in 2 days a week, 5 hours a day for 8 months. This let me get a very solid relationship with the doctor I was working with and a good feel for his practice. I had some good experiences I have been able to talk about in the application process too.
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Free cat to a good home
10+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2006
Attending Physician
I shadowed a doctor for about 4 hours a week for 2 months. I got to know him very well and he got to know me because I asked a lot of questions. It was a family practice in a smaller community. I really felt good about asking him to write a LOR. From what I could tell from his reaction, he probably wrote one of my best letters. I guess our personalities just clicked, but asking him questions definitly helped.


10+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2005
Medical Student
it's what you make of it. and it also depends on the doctor and what he expects/is comfortable with you doing.

i shadowed a doc for 2 clinics a week, 5 hrs each, and 5 hrs of surgery for one semester where i had a lot of time. the next semester had less time so i only helped in his clinics.
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