Shadowing a DoctorDecember 10, 2014
Clinical exposure involves working in a healthcare setting as an intern or volunteer before you join medical school. This exposure gives you practical experience in the field of medicine, which can be hugely beneficial for any pre-med student.
What is pre-med clinical exposure?
Many students do not make any attempt to obtain any clinical experience before they join medical school simply because they are under the impression that they have to study medicine before engaging in any kind of activity in the healthcare field. Sure you will need to study medicine to work as a medical practitioner. However, clinical exposure is different. There is nothing stopping you from shadowing medical professionals, observing their daily work and getting a feel for the profession you are considering. Not only will you get to watch the work of a medical professional, you will also have the opportunity to interact with patients. Make use of any contacts you may have within the medical profession. Does a family member work in a hospital or know someone that does? Don’t be afraid to ask for their help in gaining some pre-med clinical shadowing exposure.
Additionally, observational medical placements abroad in a developing country will give you clinical experience and exposure that you cannot get anywhere else. Shadowing a medical professional in a developing country will give you a strong appreciation of global health and the disparities in healthcare across the world.
So the big question is, how important is clinical exposure for pre-meds? Why go through all of that and how would you benefit from it as a pre-med student?
How pre-meds benefit on a professional level with clinical exposure
Medical schools may not list it as a mandatory eligibility criteria but the truth is they do factor it into their decision when short-listing successful applications. Very often, it can be the deciding factor when having to choose between two candidates, both of whom have obtained stellar academic scores, written impressive personal essays and have outstanding letters of recommendation. So why exactly is clinical exposure used as the deciding factor? There are several reasons.
Obtaining clinical exposure speaks volumes about your genuine passion for medicine and your commitment to helping others. You get higher points for ‘walking the talk’ as opposed to other candidates who may have written reams about their passion for helping others but have not actually done anything that demonstrates their passion.
At another level, it shows the admissions authorities that you have gone behind the scenes of the profession and you know the hard work that’s involved. This means you are committed to the field and the chances that you will drop out of med school are very low. Also, pre-med students who have gone through clinical experience tend to have more realistic expectations from the medical field.
Look out for Part 2, which will address how clinical exposure benefits pre-med students on a personal level.