How to Find a Doctor to Shadow

Last time, I talked about the importance of doctor shadowing.  But, how do you find a doctor to shadow?

Talk to your family doctor. Most people have a family doctor and it is easy to contact that doctor and ask if they would allow the student to shadow them.  Since the doctor already knows you, they are more inclined to allow you to follow them around.

To increase your chances even further, make it very clear that the reason you want to follow them around is because of your interest in becoming a physician yourself.

Get recommendations. If your family doctor is unable to help, ask if they know other doctors that wouldn’t mind having a student follow them around.  They may know another doctor who enjoys having a student following them.

Talk with your friends. Do any of your friends have parents who are physicians? Talk with them. Again, that personal contact increases your chances of the doctor agreeing to have you shadow them.  Do your parents know any doctors? Have them introduce you to the doctor.

Contact a local clinic or medical center. This option is the most difficult because you don’t have a relationship with anyone. But many clinics have doctors that enjoy teaching students and if you make your interest in medicine clear, they might be willing to have you follow them.

If you live near a teaching hospital or medical center you might see if some of the doctors would mind if you followed along while they were teaching their medical students or residents.

How to handle objections. The most common objection you will face when asking to shadow a doctor is that HIPAA laws prohibit such actions. HIPAA is the federal law that protects patient confidentiality. This objection is mainly used by people that don’t really understand HIPAA.

There are two ways for you to address such an objection. First, you will agree that you will not discuss with anyone the names or other identifying information about any patient you see or their medical problems.You may be asked to sign a document confirming this and you should do so if asked.

Second, all the doctor has to do when he sees a patient is to ask if they mind if a student is in the room with the doctor. If the patient says they don’t mind, HIPAA is waived.

Now, go out there and find a doctor to shadow.

Want more information about BS/MD programs? Check out the Guide to BS/MD Programs.

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