One of the best ways that you can figure out if a career is right for you is by becoming an intern to learn the ins and outs of your prospective career. But what happens when you aren’t able to become an intern until after you are done with all of your schooling?
This is the case for thousands of medical students every year. So with the option to become an intern off the table, your options become limited. Shadowing physicians is one of the most effective ways that you can familiarize yourself with the field of medicine.
Although shadowing is not something that is typically required on your application to medical school, it is helpful if you do have shadowing experience. In many instances, it is more important to shadow a doctor than volunteer. It shows that you know what you are getting into with the medical field before you take the time to apply.
Beyond learning some of what goes into being a doctor, what makes shadowing a doctor so important? Below are three reasons why this may be the most important experience you can have on your med-school application.
1. It is Easy
Setting up a shadowing opportunity is relatively easy to do and it will set you up to be better off in the future. It can be as simple as asking your family doctor.
If you don’t have any success with that, you can look around the hospitals in your area and talk to their human resources department and volunteering departments to see if they have any shadowing opportunities.
2. Build a Relationship with a Physician
As a shadow, you will be able to build a relationship with a physician. Whoever you shadow will be able to serve as a mentor or a friend for you. Having them in your corner to write a referral letter, if need be, will always be helpful.
3. You Engage With Patients
This may be the most important of the three. Because you get to engage with patients, you will learn about bedside manner and how they describe their ailments.
Hearing the stories and connecting with them on a deep emotional level is something that can propel you into the medical field. Seeing the face of someone who has just been told that their cancer has returned may be all the motivation that you need to keep you on the right track.
Shadowing will allow you to see what a doctor goes through daily. You will get to see how he interacts with patients, performs procedures, and oversees and converses with his co workers.
Although there is no written rule as to how much you should shadow, a good goal is at least 50 hours by the time that you apply to med-school.
Make sure that you go into your shadowing experience with an open mind, and be ready to learn and be inspired. You will want to make sure that you maximize your shadowing experience because it could be a major part of your personal statement and ensure that you are headed into the right field.