Shadowing is a valuable experience that every pre-med should do before applying to medical school. Getting into medical school, getting through medical school, and then finishing residency is very difficult, so it would not be wise to attempt these things without knowing for sure this is what you want to do. Shadowing gives you that important insight into medicine.
And don’t forget, Medical Schools love to see shadowing experience on applications. In fact, it’s essentially required at many schools.
Also, shadowing is a pretty cool experience, you won’t regret doing it.
My First Shadowing Experience Was With An OB/GYN
I shadowed an OB/Gyn for an entire summer, two days a week, from 9 am till 5 pm. Sometimes I would go in an extra day of the week to see a c-section, and sometimes I’d end up being there until 7 or 8 pm on a busy day.
I definitely shadowed long enough to get a decent feel of what being an OB/GYN in a private practice is like. Even though there was a lot of repetition, it was important for me to get a glimpse of what the lifestyle of a doctor is really like.
Sure you will do a lot of cool and exciting things, but, like most jobs, there is a level of monotony and it’s important to be realistic with your expectations.
An Ordinary Day
On an ordinary day, I would arrive at the practice around 9 am. Usually, the doctor would be there already, especially if there were women in labor. His practice was in the hospital on the fourth floor and the labor and delivery was on the first. You could basically ride the elevator next to his office down into labor and delivery.
From 9 am until about lunchtime we would see his patients. The most common patient would be either a progress note on a patient’s pregnancy or some irregularity in their menstrual cycle.
Depending on the day, we would go down into labor and delivery before lunch to check up on any laboring patients. In there he would check up on their labor progress and deliver the baby if she was ready.
Then we’d eat lunch in either the doctor’s lounge (which was awesome because it had free food that was actually pretty good) or we’d sit in on the weekly lectures the hospital provided on certain days. Doctors attend these lectures to meet a certain amount of hours for maintaining their certification.
These weekly lectures would also provide free food. For a poor college student, that was always appreciated!
Shadowing for 2 and a half months gave me the opportunity to see a variety of OB procedures.
By far the most exciting procedure to watch was a c-section. With sterile cloths, I was able to stand almost at the bed inside of the OR. As you can imagine, the surgery itself was really bloody. They’re literally cutting open the girl’s abdomen.
Seeing this procedure, as well as others, showed me how interesting medicine can be. You can expect every week to be different, with new challenges that give you a sense of accomplishment.
Overall shadowing was a stress-free, fun learning experience. I definitely recommend shadowing for an extended period of time if possible.
After shadowing the whole summer I got a really good feel of what life is like as an OB/GYN. It’s important to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to really confirm whether or not this is the field for you.
For all of those interested in shadowing, check out these posts for advice on how to get started or optimize your experience:
Some people are lucky enough to have a doctor in their family that is obligated to take them under their wing, but lots of pre-med students don’t.
And even those that do, you can never shadow enough doctors. This post will help you find doctors to shadow so that you can beef up your experience repertoire.
Shadowing is an opportunity to ask lots of questions.
Ask about the practice, the procedures, the medicine, getting into medical school, and anything else related to their profession.
This post will go into more detail on everything you can expect from shadowing. I also give important tips on how to prepare and get the most out of your experience!
Have any great shadowing experiences of your own? Share in a comment or hit me up with an email!