Shadowing a doctor will strengthen your candidacy for medical school so much that you probably should have started looking yesterday.
I have talked about why shadowing is important before, but that doesn’t make the process of finding a doctor to shadow any easier. As a matter of fact, it is one of the more difficult steps of your professional path.
Because of its difficulty, a lot of you will just put shadowing off until it is too late. Don’t let this happen to you. Follow this guide on how you go about finding and asking a doctor to shadow.
How Do You Find A Doctor to Shadow?
1. The first place that you will want to start is by asking your campus adviser if they have any relationships with local doctors. The adviser may be able to connect you with a list of potential doctors looking for student shadows.
2. If you are back home for the semester, or already looking ahead to your summer off, just go to some local medical offices near you and ask them if you can shadow the doctor there. I know this will be a little nerve racking, but you need to get over this here. Keep the bigger picture in mind. This will be a great opportunity for you to get used to approaching and talking to people that you don’t know.
3. Ask your family doctor
4. Volunteer at a clinic. This will give you an opportunity to get to know the doctors and ask them if you can shadow them. Because you have already built a relationship with the doctors there, the asking process should be a little bit easier.
If you have tried all of this and still can’t find a doctor, take a look at these alternative volunteering options.
How To Ask – and Get a Yes
There is an etiquette that you need to follow when asking a doctor to shadow them. Start looking at least a month before you want to begin shadowing.
Once you have identified the doctors that you want to approach, call the office, send an email, or go in person and explain your situation and what you are looking to do in a professional manner. Make sure that you are specific about what type of experience you want, how long you can be shadowing, and how many hours you can commit a week.
Remember that what you are asking is a HUGE favor. You are not experienced and won’t be contributing much. Also, the doctor has to put up with everything from malpractice issues to HIPPA law.
If you are courteous, specific about what you are looking for, and professional, you should get an answer from the doctor quickly.
It will always be better to contact the office with a call or visit, but if you must send an email, remember these tips:
* Keep it short and to the point
* Hotstuff95@gmail.com may have been a sweet email in middle school, but not for professional reasons
* Save all your experience and leadership positions for your medical school application
* If you got your information from your school, tell the doctor who you got their contact information from
Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono taken from Flickr.