Questions to ask while shadowing a doctor

April 23, 2021

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

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Job shadowing is an important step in the process for premed students so that they can decide if medicine is the right path for them. As part of the experience, students want to know what questions to ask while shadowing a doctor.

It can be helpful to think about what you want to know from the physician you are shadowing before you have your first day. And considering that you may be shadowing different doctors in a variety of specialties, those questions could vary. 

We recommend bringing a notebook, and a pen with you so that you can write down any questions you have beforehand, and make notes as you go on any questions that come up. 

You do not have to memorize everything you want to ask. If you are a student interested in medicine, your natural curiosity will spark the right questions as you go through your medical shadowing hours. 

Why shadowing is important for premed students

Shadowing a doctor is a great opportunity for aspiring physicians and other healthcare professionals to learn about the career before they make a commitment. Pursuing a career in medicine is rigorous, time-consuming, and can be expensive. You definitely want to make sure that being a doctor is the right path for you

Additionally, premed students will have to choose a medical specialty toward the end of their schooling, so it’s great for you to get some exposure to different specialties within the field. It may help you even in terms of ruling out types of medicine that you are not interested in. 

Medical shadowing also helps students learn about different medical cases and build their knowledge. When you write your personal statements or do your medical school interviews, it can help if you have specific examples of patients and medical cases that you observed to show that you have already had some experience. 

At Global Pre-Meds, we provide hospital doctor shadowing and global health experience programs for students who want to be doctors, nurses, midwives or physician assistants. Our programs are designed for students who are driven and want to make sure their resume stands out from the crowd of other applicants

Our programs help you get frontline experience at international hospitals and clinics. Not only are you getting what you need out of a shadowing experience, but by observing in another country you’re likely to see cases that you would never get the chance to in your home country. 

Whether you get a minimum of 40 hours shadowing in the Dominican Republic, or spend time in a primary care center and learning about different levels of healthcare delivery in Tanzania, our students are able to successfully expand their experience portfolios.

Another reason to shadow is to build those professional connections in the field early, especially so that you can have references and letters of recommendation for your applications. It’s also a benefit to have a healthcare professional in your corner, rooting for you, and able to dispense advice for future decisions. This is also why you want to make a good impression on the physicians you shadow. 

Part of making a good first impression is through preparation. Make sure you are on time, dressed professionally, and stay engaged. Planning some questions to ask while shadowing a doctor can help you start off on the right foot. 

Questions to ask while shadowing a doctor

It is not imperative that you pre-write all the questions you want to ask. As we’ve mentioned, if this is the career you’re interested in you will undoubtedly have questions as you go through the day.

Nevertheless, it’s good to spend some time researching and thinking about what you hope to get out of this experience. Depending on what kind of doctor you are shadowing, you may want to research some of the cases they see so that you have some idea of what to expect. 

We’ve prepared a short list of questions to ask while shadowing a doctor, which you can use to help get you started. 

Make sure you ask any questions you have at the appropriate times. This means waiting until a doctor is finished speaking with a patient. You also want to be mindful of what you ask within ear shot of other patients so that you don’t inadvertently make them uncomfortable. 

If you think of a question during patient care that you want to ask and don’t want to forget, simply write it in your notebook and you can ask it later. 

One of the benefits of our fully curated program is that we select medical doctors who will serve as the best mentors for the duration of your program. They get to know you, and through the relationship you build with them, you’re able to get the most out of your experience.

Our mentors have been trained by our staff and know exactly what to expect from premed students on the program. They will make sure you see a range of medical cases that are typical for the hospital, but also ones that you would be interested in. 

If you are wondering what questions to ask while shadowing a doctor, and you want to make sure you get the most information out of your job shadowing experience, we hope you consider one of our programs. You can learn more about them here