Shadow a nurse in high school

April 6, 2021

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

Explore Our 2022 Medical Shadowing Programs Here

If you are looking to shadow a nurse in high school, you may have some questions about finding those opportunities. In this article, we explain everything you need to know if you are still in school, but want to start building your resume to become a nurse.

It’s a good idea to shadow multiple nurses/specialties for at least a couple of days each. Because each day is going to look different, you’ll want to spend more than one day with a healthcare professional, so you can really see the range of medical cases they handle. 

We help aspiring nurses, midwives, doctors, and physician assistants gain real world experience with a global perspective. It’s so important for students to shadow healthcare professionals, so they know if the career is suitable for them, and as a way of helping you stand out from the crowd of other pre-nursing students. 

Can you shadow a nurse in high school?

Yes, you can absolutely shadow a nurse in high school. It always depends on the healthcare facility’s rules and regulations, but as long as you are at least 14 years old you shouldn’t have any issues. Most places do restrict access to operating rooms and emergency departments, however, until you are at least 16 years old. 

Keep in mind that nurses are in many specialties, so there may be different rules in the different departments. Just be prepared to hear some “no’s” as you are looking. 

If you are under 18 years old you may need parent/guardian permission, and some facilities will do a background check to maintain safety and security. 

How to find nurse shadowing opportunities

If you want to shadow a nurse in high school, there are several ways for you to go about this. 

Some hospitals and clinics have strict privacy laws and don’t allow students to shadow, which can pose a challenge to students who are looking for these opportunities. It’s important to remember that the process may take time, so if you’re planning to shadow a nurse you want to start your search early. 

Personal connections

If you know a nurse through family or friends, definitely reach out to them and see if they will let you observe them. Even if they are not able to help you personally, they may know someone who has space for a student to observe.

Even if you know a doctor or someone who is in healthcare but is not a registered nurse, you can always ask them if they know of a nurse you can shadow. It’s great to have a personal connection to someone because it’s almost like getting their recommendation and assurance that you are mature and responsible enough. 

Shadowing program

One of the easiest ways to find a guaranteed placement is by applying to a formal shadowing program. At Global Pre-Meds, we help students shadow doctors at international hospitals and clinics.

The doctors you shadow will serve as your mentors, who know what your medical interests are and will help you see both a balance of medical cases and ones that suit your needs. For example, when we have students who are interested in becoming midwives, we make sure they spend time in the antenatal and postnatal care units. 

Our program is also unique because you can gain international experience abroad – something most pre-nursing students will not have on their applications.

Curated shadowing programs also make it easy for you because we take care of everything. With your one-time program fee, we provide your in country transportation, food, and stay at our beautiful Global Pre-Meds houses.

Ask your school advisor

Your high school counselor or academic advisor may be able to connect you with a registered nurse you can shadow. Job shadowing is a common request made to academic advisors, so they can be a great resource for you. They may also point you towards a school health club, like HOSA – Future Health Professionals – which hosts networking opportunities for prehealth students. 

Social media

Social media can be a great way to connect people. You can post to your own accounts saying that you’re looking for a nurse you can shadow – perhaps one of your hundreds of followers/friends is already a nurse or can help connect you. 

You can also use social media to find other nurses, through hashtags, pages or groups. Even if you can’t find a nurse, some of these pages are filled with helpful tips for students.

Nursing forums and blogs

If you follow any nursing blogs or online forums, you may be able to find resources or nurses in your area. Forums can help answer questions like how to find and approach RNs for shadowing opportunities. 

Cold calling

If you can’t find any way to connect with a nurse through the aforementioned resources, you can try to find nurses in your area. You can search on Google for “registered nurses near me” or find your local hospital’s website

It’s best if you can find the contact information for a specific nurse. If you can contact them directly, that’s great. If you have to call the hospital or clinic they are working in it’s good to have some names to ask about specifically. 

When you send an email or leave a message, you want to explain who you are, why you are interested in nursing, and why you want to shadow that person. Perhaps they are in a specialty that you are interested in, in which case you want to mention that. 

If the nurse doesn’t return your call or email in a week or two, it’s okay to try again. However, you’ll want to reach out to others as well just in case one person doesn’t work out.


Volunteering at a hospital or clinic can help you get your foot in the door at a healthcare facility. Even if you’re not working with a nurse specifically, you can start getting experience in a working hospital. And if you make a good impression, it will be easy for you to ask those that you are working with if you can get some shadowing hours. 

If you want to shadow a nurse in high school, we hope you consider one of our programs. You can learn more about our hospital doctor shadowing and global health experience programs here