How to start shadowing a doctor?

Medical shadowing can be exciting and an amazing journey for med students. It is important to be humble, professional and concise while introducing yourself when shadowing a doctor.  Start by your name and then tell about your program or interest. Show some eagerness and willingness to learn from the expertise of the doctor you are shadowing.

Do not forget to maintain professionalism. It is important to leave an impact that you really want to learn and gain insight into the medical system.

This opportunity offers exposure to the medical field and patient interactions. It helps develop an understanding of what it is like to be a physician. Here are the following factors you can understand before start shadowing a doctor.

How do I find doctors to shadow?

There are probably many doctors and clinics near you. These could include private practices, hospitals, and urgent care centers. Unfortunately, these doctors can be difficult to access.

Busy professionals often have other priorities. Shadowing students may not be one of them. It is even less likely if it requires clearance from their administration.

Because of this, the easiest way to set up shadowing is to leverage your own personal network. Simply ask someone you know, whether it’s a family connection or your own personal physician.

Many students don’t know any doctors personally or have connections to them, So don’t worry if you’re in this boat. You can go ahead and make these connections.

A great start is beginning with your own paediatrician or family doctor. You have a pre-existing relationship with this physician. Chances are, they’ll be more likely to hear you out and let you shadow them. After all, it can be flattering for a doctor’s patient to want to enter the same field as they did.

Of course, many doctors will still say no. Sometimes they simply don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate a student.

Still, getting in contact with them opens the door. Even if they cannot let you shadow them, they have a network of professional colleagues. They can refer you to these colleagues.

Another avenue to consider is through official resources at your undergraduate program. Reach out to your school’s career center, pre-med advising team, or relevant professors. They certainly will have a network of clinicians that they could be happy to reach out to on your behalf.

In addition, you may be studying at a university with a dedicated medical school or hospital on campus. Contact the medical school or hospital directly. Many hospitals, whether they’re affiliated with a university or not, have volunteer offices or dedicated shadowing programs that you could entertain.

If you have tried all other methods, try cold calling and cold emailing local practices. Ask if you can shadow one of their practitioners. The idea of cold contacting sounds dreadful. It can feel so daunting to contact a clinician only to ask them for their time.

We recommend combating this fear by informing you that many physicians enjoy teaching. Often they do not get enough opportunities to teach. So you can try your luck out.

How to make contact with a physician you want to shadow

How to make contact with a physician you want to shadow. Once you’ve determined whom you’d like to ask, start by reaching out via email or phone. Either way, make sure to include the following information.

  • An introduction consisting of your name.
  • Where you attend school
  • How far along you are in your education.
  • A brief outline of your career goals and interests in medicine.
  • How you learned of that particular doctor.
  • Why do you think they would be a good person for you to shadow?
  • What you hope to get out of the experience.
  • A direct request to shadow the doctor, including scheduling information.

Don’t worry. This may seem forced. However, you can customize scripts and emails to fit your needs.

If you’re emailing, make sure to write a professional-sounding email. And if you have one ready, attach your resume for the doctor to pursue in her free time. This will give the doctor additional insight to add to the body of the email.

If you’re calling the office, be ready with a 30-second abridged version of your message, in case you’re met by voicemail. Regardless of the medium, prioritize being polite and concise. Doctors are busy people, and you’ve contacted them out of the blue asking for their time and attention.