Shadowing a DoctorNovember 16, 2013
Anyone who plans on applying to medical school will find that they have a long list of things that they need to accomplish to increase their odds of their application being accepted. In addition to good grades, there are also volunteer experiences, medical placement programs and of course, shadowing a doctor. While none of these are mandatory, they can give you that all important competitive edge when it comes to choosing between two students with similar grades. So where and how do you find a doctor to shadow?
Start with Family & Friends
Knowing a doctor on a personal level will make the task so much easier. If you do not know any doctor personally, ask family and friends if they have any doctor friends who you can approach for the purpose. Get in touch with potential doctors via email, call them or set up an appointment and visit them personally and ask.
If nobody you know knows any doctor that you can shadow, it’s time to explore other avenues and the best place to start is by approaching doctors who you may have been to for some consultation. Ask your family physician or perhaps the ophthalmologist you go to or your gynaecologist. You already have a connection with them and you will find it easier to shadow them. Don’t be shy about asking. Most doctors understand how important this experience is for any pre-med student and would be happy to help you.
Another important thing is to contact as many doctors as you can, all at once. Don’t wait to hear from one doctor and only think of contacting another if the first doctor turned you down. This will result in you losing a lot of precious time – time that you could have put to good use. Doctors are always very busy and the only way to increase your chances of getting a positive response to your shadowing request is to ask as many as possible right at the outset.
Be Professional With Your Request And During The Shadowing Tenure
The email you send out to the doctors should be simple, clear and professional. Introduce yourself and tell them that you are planning on applying to medical school the very soon. If you do not know the doctor in question directly, inform let them know how you sourced their contact information. Sometimes, you might even get these contacts via the alumni directory of a particular medical school. Tell them how interested you are in the field and attach your resume as well.
Start Asking Early
Do not wait until the time you actually apply to medical school to start making queries or to start shadowing a doctor. Ideally, you should start with the process of putting things together as soon as you’ve made up your mind that you want to be a doctor. The sooner you start, the sooner you can start crossing things off that lengthy to-do list and the more time you will have to imbibe more experiences that will add weight to your application.