Clinical Exposure: How Important Is It For Pre-Medical Students?

July 25, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Clinical Exposure is one of the best experiences a pre-medical student can get for several reasons. Two of the most important benefits you will get from engaging in this activity are:

-At a personal level, it allows you to see what the life of a doctor is really like every day and gives you plenty of food for thought.

-At a professional level, it can make or break your application to medical school.

Posing :-)

Personal Benefits of Clinical Exposure 

If you have not spent some significant time with physicians and patients during your time as a medical student, how would you know that this is the right career for you and that you really want to be a doctor?

Most students who want to embark on a career in medicine do so either for the excitement attached to the profession or for more altruistic reasons. While both reasons may be equally noble, the truth is, being a doctor is nothing like what you see in the movies or on TV shows. Being a doctor is hard work without the background music. You could find yourself working long hours under unimaginably stressful conditions. Moments of triumph and highs will be intermingled with moments of loss and lows. It’s impossible to imagine what it is really like unless you have actually been there. What if after a gruelling 7 years of medical school, you figure out you actually cannot handle it?

When you engage in medical shadowing, you will quickly discover whether this really is the right career for you.


Professional Benefits of Clinical Exposure 

Most medical schools may not openly admit it but clinical exposure is one of those intangible requirements that can tip the scales in your favour, and give you the edge over the other equally qualified students applying to the same medical school.

For one thing, it gives you a lot to impress the interviewers with as you recount your experiences and tell them what you have learnt. Also, just knowing that you have had prior clinical exposure speaks volumes to the admissions officers. It tells them that you have had a good hard look at what it really is like to be a doctor and – despite knowing the realities – you are still determined to go ahead with it. It speaks of your determination and enthusiasm, two crucial attributes that medical school interviewers are always looking for in their prospective students.

Students during on-placement clinical teaching

How To Get The Required Clinical Exposure

It may sound daunting but the truth is clinical exposure is not too difficult to set up. If you are flexible and willing to compromise, you will find that there are numerous opportunities available. Opportunities in Australia itself may be a little difficult to obtain, and even if you do get permission, the exposure itself is quite limited. The best option is to join a placement organisation that arranges doctor and nurse shadowing in hospitals in developing countries where medical students can go and obtain some much needed clinical exposure.