Shadowing is the act of following a professional as they do their typical work activities in a clinic or hospital setting. You might ask why this experience is so important? First, it may be the defining experience which tells you whether or not you want to be a physician. Shadowing gives you a very tangible sense of what life is like for a professional. Through working alongside a professional, you can gain unique insight into what happens in a day in the life of your career of choice. You get a sense of what it’s like working with patients, working with other health care professionals (nurses, PAs, and therapists), and what the challenges and rewards are of working in the profession. You’ll learn how a health professional organizes their day, allows time for the unexpected, stays current in the profession, integrates personal and professional life, and manage the financial aspects of their practice.
Shadowing can also be crucial for a second reason: Having clinical experience allows admissions committees know that you have some understanding of what you are getting into. It also shows admissions officers your commitment to a health career because you have taken initiative in learning about being a professional prior to applying to school.
The AAMC also has a handout on Guidelines for Clinical Shadowing Experiences.
If you have any questions, please schedule an appointment with one of the advisors.