When should I start shadowing?

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mclux2010

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I'm new to this site and the pre-med program at my college. My advisor told me I shouldn't worry too much about shadowing till my 3rd year because most physicians might not allow other students who haven't gotten to far into the program. Also, by the end of this semester, I hope to be certified as an EMT-B. If and when I get a job somewhere as an EMT, would I need to shadow as much? Or should I just focus more on grades now and shadow/volunteer as the years go by?

*And does it matter who I shadow? I have an idea what speciality I would like to go into, but my advisor mention in medical school they will more likely guide me to a speciality that'll suit me better.
 

ChE04

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Probably the sooner the better, so if you end up hating medicine you haven't wasted your time.

You can certainly wait if you like, but consider also that exhibiting a long(ish)-term interest in medicine (ie by shadowing, volunteering, etc well before you submit your application) is generally a positive quality for an application to demonstrate. It's advisable to shadow even if you are an EMT because an EMT does not practice medicine (unlikely you'll see/do much as an EMT-B anyway). The idea behind shadowing is that you get a snapshot of what your life could be like as a physician. It does not matter what specialties you shadow, but ideally you would choose fields you are most interested in.

You won't be guided into any particular specialty in medical school either; it's more about finding something you can ultimately see yourself loving/able to stand for the duration of your career.
 

mclux2010

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Thanks I appreciate that! Also, how would I go about contacting a physician? I don't really know a friend or family member that personally know a physician in my area
 

ChE04

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Thanks I appreciate that! Also, how would I go about contacting a physician? I don't really know a friend or family member that personally know a physician in my area

This is the annoying part. I would ask around and see how some of the other premeds in your area are finding these opportunities. Your best bet is if you can make a connection through a volunteer position at a hospital; that way the doc you are potentially shadowing at least knows the hospital has vetted you to some minimal extent. Also, check with any academic centers near you and see if they have an observership program you can take advantage of (ie, http://www.seattlechildrens.org/healthcare-professionals/education/observership/). These "official" programs typically have a lot of hoops for you to jump through before you can start, so keep that in mind. Some people have had luck through cold calling/emailing physicians, but be prepared to be ignored or shot down by the vast majority. If you find one doc to shadow, they may be able to hook you up with others both inside and outside their specialty.
 

MedWonk

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I'm new to this site and the pre-med program at my college. My advisor told me I shouldn't worry too much about shadowing till my 3rd year because most physicians might not allow other students who haven't gotten to far into the program. Also, by the end of this semester, I hope to be certified as an EMT-B. If and when I get a job somewhere as an EMT, would I need to shadow as much? Or should I just focus more on grades now and shadow/volunteer as the years go by?

*And does it matter who I shadow? I have an idea what speciality I would like to go into, but my advisor mention in medical school they will more likely guide me to a speciality that'll suit me better.

Start trying to find shadowing experiences now. Sometimes obtaining shadowing experience is fairly easy, but other times (like me) it can be very difficult to get 20ish hours. I would start looking now. If you find getting a shadowing experience is easy, then once you get to 50ish hours you can call it a day and focus on more robust ECs like volunteering, being an EMT, or whatever else you feel like doing.
 

Goro

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Even if you're an EMT with a 1000 hrs of service, you still need to show us you know what a doctor's day is like.

Your advisor is ill-informed about doctors being squeamish over having a sophomore shadowing them, over a senior.

So, start it whenever you are ready for it. I recommend shadowing at least one specialist and one primary care doc. Ideally, try to shadow a DO and an MD, to compare the two.

I'm new to this site and the pre-med program at my college. My advisor told me I shouldn't worry too much about shadowing till my 3rd year because most physicians might not allow other students who haven't gotten to far into the program. Also, by the end of this semester, I hope to be certified as an EMT-B. If and when I get a job somewhere as an EMT, would I need to shadow as much? Or should I just focus more on grades now and shadow/volunteer as the years go by?

*And does it matter who I shadow? I have an idea what speciality I would like to go into, but my advisor mention in medical school they will more likely guide me to a speciality that'll suit me better.
 

emmef

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It's easier than you might imagine to find shadowing opportunities. Cold-calling doctors you don't know, although it might seem intimidating, can be a good way to start. Remember, those doctors were once pre-med themselves, and they remember what you're going through. (I wouldn't recommend cold-calling the chair of neurosurgery at your local hospital though... but primary care docs would in general be happy to help you out, and if not then they wouldn't hold it against you for asking.)
 
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