Health profession schools require or strongly recommend applicants to shadow professionals in their chosen field. Pre-medical students should shadow doctors; pre-dental students should shadow dentists, etc. It is important to shadow different professionals representing a wide range of specialties within your profession. For example, pre-medical students could shadow a pediatrician, an orthopedic surgeon, or an internist. Pre-dental students could shadow a pediatric dentist, an oral surgeon, or a dentist who practices general dentistry. Students should contact individual programs for their definition of shadowing requirements. Generally, working as a dental hygienist or nurse, etc., will not be accepted as a substitute for shadowing.
It is important for students to keep track of the hours they spend and experiences gained while they shadow. Shadowing can be an effective tool to help admissions committees understand a student's motivations for pursuing the career. Many students choose a career in health professions for financial and lifestyle reasons without understanding the sacrifices that come with and precede it. Healthcare provides wonderful careers for many individuals, but it is not right for everyone. Shadowing provides students with essential information as they make the decision to pursue a health professions career.
Etiquette should be practiced when requesting an opportunity to shadow and also during the shadowing experience. Please review the following guidelines:
- Use the internet, phone book, or other students to locate local health professionals
- Visit the office in person to set up an appointment - dress professionally
- Dress and act professionally at all times during the shadowing experience
- Turn off your cell phone
- Write a thank you note
- Document the time spent shadowing and write down experiences you have