Shadow a surgeon in high school

April 6, 2021

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

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

We hear from students all the time who want to shadow a surgeon in high school. If you are interested in pursuing a career in surgery or healthcare, it’s never too early to start getting experience that can help you decide if this path is right for you.

Shadowing a surgeon or a doctor gives you insight into what it takes to have a successful carer in healthcare. You also get an idea of what your roles and responsibilities will be at work, and how you will balance it with your home life. 

Getting experience in a hospital allows you to see all the functions of the facility and how other professions work together. You never know if another career might be of more interest to you.

Job shadowing helps you start building your resume so that you can stand out from the other crowd of medical school applicants. 

Can high school students shadow surgeons? 

High school students are often worried they are too young to be allowed into an operating room. But actually, it is ultimately up to the surgeon to decide who can observe and doctors are used to high school students asking for shadowing opportunities

When it comes to age restrictions, some hospitals require students to be at least 16 years of age before they shadow a surgeon at their facility. If you are under the age of 16, you may not be allowed in the operating room or in emergency rooms. However, it is up to the attending doctor, so it never hurts to ask. 

On our hospital doctor shadowing and global health experience programs, we also accept students who are 16 years of age or older because we put students on the frontlines of international healthcare facilities. We make sure our students are safe at all times. 

Throughout your program, you will be guided by a medical doctor who will serve as your mentor. Even as you enter the operating room or observe another colleague in their work, your mentor will be at your side to help answer any questions and maintain your safety. 

You will still get to ask questions of the surgeon or lead on the medical case, but the continuity and guidance you receive from your mentor will help you get the most out of your experience

How to find a surgeon to shadow

The best way to ensure success and shadow a surgeon in high school is to use your personal connections

Given that you need the approval of the surgeon to observe, it’s better if the doctor knows you personally or knows someone who can vouch for your maturity and responsibility. As a high school student, it is important to treat this opportunity as a professional one. Many people use friends and family to find career opportunities and this is no different. 

If you can’t find someone you know, you can always cold email or cold call surgeons that are listed in your area. Be brief, and let them know in your email or message who you are, what your interests in surgery are, and why you want to shadow them. 

Try to be as flexible as possible with your availability but let them know right away if you have any scheduling conflicts. If you plan on shadowing during a specific school break or time period, start looking for a surgeon to shadow early. 

The easiest way to shadow a surgeon as a high school student is to apply to a program. Our Global Pre-Meds programs, for example, provide a fully curated experience abroad. Once you apply, our staff will guide you through the process from start to finish. We will meet you as soon as you step off the plane take you to our beautiful guesthouse that will be your home away from home. 

What to expect shadowing a surgeon

If you plan on being a doctor, you have to be ready for anything. You’ll never know what a work day might bring. 

That’s why we recommend trying to shadow one surgeon or doctor for at least several days so that you can see a range of cases.

You’ll want to wear comfortable clothes and shoes when you’re shadowing a surgeon because you may be on your feet a lot. Business attire is a good assumption, but you can always ask the doctor if you’re unsure. 

Scrubs may also be acceptable, but keep in mind that you will need to change into new scrubs if you are entering into a sterilized operating room. 

Bring a small notebook and pen to write down any questions you might have. If it’s not a good moment to ask – like if the surgeon is speaking with patients – then you can write down the question and ask later. 

Surgeons work with a lot of people during procedures. You might observe from the gallery so that you’re not in the way. If you are in the operating room, make sure you know where to stand so that you’re not in the way of anyone trying to do their job. As always, if you have any questions you can ask. 

Sometimes surgeries can be a little hard to watch, especially your first time. Don’t be afraid to step out and watch from the sidelines if you need to.

At Global Pre-Meds, we provide you with international standard personal protective equipment every day that you’re in the hospital. Any surgeries you watch will be from a safe distance, and there is no physical contact between you and patients

Your mentors will make sure you know what to expect and will be at your side every moment if you’re unsure. 

Another benefit of our program is the unique experience abroad and interesting cases you will see compared to shadowing a surgeon locally. The cultural and environmental factors are different in other countries and add something special to your resume. 

If you’re looking to shadow a surgeon in high school, we hope you consider our programs. We have separate, dedicated sessions for high school students who are ages 18 and under. We provide age appropriate, 24/7 supervision even during your free time so that we can ensure everyone’s safety. 

You can learn more about our programs here