Doctor shadowing is an expected activity for students interested in applying to BS/MD programs. But the question that comes up on a regular basis is does it matter who you shadow?
The answer is no, it does not matter who you shadow as long as you are shadowing a physician. Either an MD or a DO is perfectly fine to shadow. Medical schools absolutely do not care what specialty you shadow.
However, shadowing other health care professionals is a critical mistake that some students make. I have seen students shadow dentists, nurses, physical therapists and many other allied health professionals. There is nothing wrong with shadowing these non-physicians but only if you have an interest in that field of health care. If you are interested in becoming a physician, shadowing health care professionals other than doctors sends a confusing message. Do you want to be a doctor or a dentist? Or a nurse? Or something else?
BS/MD programs are very focused on admitting only those students that have shown a long term commitment to becoming a physician. When you shadow someone other than a physician that focus becomes blurry. Given the level of competitiveness to get admitted to a BS/MD program, you do not want the admissions officers wondering about your commitment to medicine and only medicine. I have spoken with a number of admissions officers from BS/MD programs and everyone, without exception, has said that when they see shadowing of a health care professional other than a doctor, they immediately reject that application.
If you have shadowed a non-physician health care provider, I would just ignore that activity when it comes to the application and the list of activities. Nothing on the college application requires you to list every activity you have been involved in.
I have had a few students over the years that have had an interest in both BS/MD programs and BS/DDS programs. BS/DDS programs are guaranteed programs for students interested in becoming dentists. While I generally discourage students from applying to both types of programs, if you do, you want to have two separate common applications. One where the activities include doctor shadowing and volunteering oriented to medicine, and another application that has dentist shadowing and dental related volunteering. Keep the focus for each application on the profession you are interested in and do not mix the two.
Applying to a BS/MD program? Keep the focus on medicine and only medicine.
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