Shadow a doctor in Toronto

November 8, 2020

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

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In Toronto and greater Ontario, it is difficult to find doctor shadowing and observership opportunities for pre-med and pre-health students. In this article, we tell you what you need to know to shadow a doctor in Toronto.

Of the 17 medical schools in Canada, 6 of them are in the Ontario province. The University of Toronto is one of the top medical universities in the world, and to be a competitive applicant you need a strong academic background and extracurricular activities that will help you stand out.

Although most medical programs in Canada are focused on your GPA and academic requirements, you are asked to provide any other relevant medical experience. By shadowing a physician, you can gain an understanding of what it’s like to have a career in medicine and confidently commit to that path.

We understand the value of medical shadowing, and we want to help you become a successful healthcare professionalDoctor shadowing is exactly what we provide at Global Pre-Meds.

Our programs are unique because we curate the entire experience for high school, university, or gap year students who are interested in medicine. Our students come from all over the world to see unique cases and start building connections in the healthcare field.

We have explored doctor shadowing for pre-med and pre-health students in Toronto so that you can have a better understanding of what options are available to you.

Why is it important to shadow a doctor?

Due to the strict privacy laws in Canada, it’s hard for students interested in medicine to find observerships and shadowing programs. In fact, some schools in Toronto don’t require you to have shadowing hours. So why is it important for you to get shadowing experience?

Shadowing a doctor is a way for you to decide if medicine is right for you. Going on to become a nurse, midwife, physician assistant, or doctor is a huge commitment. Before you go through a lengthy application process, exams, essays, and then years of schooling, you should know what you are committing to.

Getting to observe a healthcare professional in their day-to-day activities is the best way to understand what life in that field would be like. You get the chance to ask your burning questions, consider work-life balance, and get exposure to other medical careers that could spark your interest.

At Global Pre-Meds, you spend two weeks building a relationship with your mentor. They guide you towards cases that peak your interests, and may even have you spend time with a colleague if you’re interested in their specialty. You get the chance to see other fields and understand how the healthcare system works together in another country. This one of a kind experience sets you on the right path.

Is shadowing a doctor legal in Canada?

Many students in Toronto say that it’s nearly impossible to shadow a physician in Canada due to patient confidentiality and protection laws. It’s not actually illegal to shadow a doctor, it’s just rare because of the effort it takes to obtain consent.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a federal Canadian law that is somewhat stricter than HIPAA in the United States. It says that any organization that collects personal information or data from citizens is then responsible for protecting that information. Each province is also allowed to have their own rules and regulations.

In addition to PIPEDA, Ontario has enacted the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), which specifically refers to all health information a patient may give to a healthcare professional. This makes it difficult if you are a premed student in Toronto looking for medical shadowing opportunities.

Canada also has observership programs, which are essentially the same as job shadowing. The difference is they are often for international medical students who are trying to familiarize themselves with the Canadian medical system and usually require you to pay a fee.

At Global Pre-Meds, we make it easy for you. We have created programs that are appropriate for students from all over the world. Not only can our programs satisfy your pre-med and pre-health requirements, but we can help you stand out from the crowd of other applicants.

How to find a doctor to shadow in Toronto?

As a pre-med or pre-health student, it is difficult to find medical shadowing opportunities in Toronto. Most students have to use their personal connections to a healthcare professional if they want to shadow a doctor in Toronto.

No matter where you are, it’s always best to start with whom you know. If you or your family members know a doctor, you should reach out to them first and ask if they’re willing to let you on their service. Given the privacy laws, you have a better chance at finding an opportunity with a mentoring doctor who knows and trusts you already.

Many students end up crossing the border into the U.S. to find doctor shadowing opportunities. While this is an option for some, we know it’s not always easy to organize and facilitate that experience yourself especially when you have other things going on.

That’s why we want you to join us at Global Pre-Meds, where all you have to do is apply. We have already built relationships with excellent mentoring doctors, hospitals, and clinics. They are trained to provide a comprehensive and ethical learning experience abroad.

Your program fee pays for your food, transportation within the country, and helps pay the doctors and hospitals who are helping to provide the experience. We take care of everything!

Our Dominican Republic program guarantees a minimum of 40 hours of shadowing on hospital front lines and provides a letter of recommendation from your mentor. Our Tanzania program allows you to observe traditional healers in tribal villages, as well as modern healthcare professionals, to gain an understanding of global health and how culture impacts medicine.

Another option for premed or health students in Toronto, is to look towards virtual shadowing opportunities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more schools and organizations have started providing online sessions for you to observe. While this is a great way to start medical observations, it doesn’t quite give you the same experience as an in person shadowing opportunity. We have had to adapt to the situation, as well, and have enhanced our health and safety procedures to continue our programs.

You should always check your program requirements before you rely on any experience for your application. The best way to view the requirements of programs in Toronto, Ontario, is to go directly to the school website or use the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS).

We know it’s not easy to find an observership or shadow a doctor in Toronto. We want to help! Check out our program dates here.