How to Ask a Doctor If You Can Shadow Them


At some point in time those seeking careers in medicine will need to shadow a doctor. Shadowing is essentially the equivalent of career day, except it's usually an ongoing process. Having access to shadow a doctor allows a student to learn the ropes of what it is a doctor does daily. When venturing out to find a physician start in your community and network within. The shadowing experience can be an experience that solidifies or redirects your career choice, if you take full advantage of it.

  • Ask your family physician. On your next hospital visit, express to your doctor your desire to enter the field of medicine. Next, ask him or her if it would be alright for you to shadow them to gain experience as to what it is a doctor does on a daily.

  • Network with family and friends and ask them to ask around for you. If you don't have a personal physician network through your friends and see if they have a willing physician who will let you shadow them. Starting within your own community is a sure fire way to spread the word and find a willing participant.

  • Volunteer in a hospital. Volunteers have a better chance of gaining favor among their colleagues and will be remembered later. This outlet gives you a way to serve your community and network within to eventually ask around for shadowing experiences. Some volunteer programs even offer shadowing positions if you mention it in the interview or on your application.

  • Call the hospitals or clinics. Cold calling hospitals and clinics will only help your efforts in landing a shadowing position. Best practices are too politely explaining your position and inform them of the experiences you're trying to gain. Additionally, emailing the hospital works just as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you will need a recommendation letter be sure to ask for one up front.
  • Send a thank you note after the shadowing experience.
  • Ask questions and gain as much information as possible.

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  • "Getting Into Medical School: The Premedical Student's Guidebook;"Sandford J. Brown; 2006
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