Do you need to shadow in the direct field you want to be in?
Yes. Your experience should be consistent with your goal. Otherwise how do you really know what you want.
I have been a nurse in the ER for 5 years. Do I still have to do shadowing with an MD?
Shadowing would still be a good idea. This would allow you to appreciate the life of a physician without your role as a nurse intruding upon your perception. Perhaps you should do this outside of your usual place of employment.
Does it have to be an attending or will a resident be ok to shadow with?
It does not matter if the physician is an attending or a resident. Remember it is important to reflect on your experience.
Does all my shadowing have to be completed prior to applying to medical school?
The 40 hours of shadowing is the suggested amount of shadowing that should be completed before submitting an application.
I've only shadowed an orthopedic surgeon and ER physicians. Should I shadow a more diverse selection of doctors before I submit my application?
Not necessarily. If you find orthopedics or emergency medicine appealing and are considering one or the other as a career goal, then this shadowing suffices. If however, you were turned off and want to consider something else, then you should try out other medical fields. We want you to have experiences that are consistent with your current goals.
If I have a shadowing opportunity lined up for the fall, how should we present it on the primary? I fear it would be difficult to provide deep insight before having the experience.
Quite right. If you haven't had much clinical exposure before what is coming up this fall, you would be encouraged not to apply this year because you will come up short.
I've shadowed a physician a few times now and I've mostly observed. Should I be asking as many questions that come to my mind or should I hold off until the end of the day? Should I just observe so that I do not dilute my own thoughts?
The first responsibility the physician has is to care for the patient. Asking questions as they come to your mind may be inappropriate depending on the context of your shadowing experience (i.e. during a surgery vs a physical exam). Consider talking to the physician prior to the shadowing experience to establish guidelines for your experience.
Visit our Shadowing Physicians page