Now that school is out for the summer, we have taken to the clinics to see the local professionals in action. Job shadowing with a doctor permits medical students to learn by observation.
As I stood in the exam room, listening to the physician taking a history and performing a physical, I was impressed at how much I had learned from my first year of medical school. The terminology was not completely foreign and the medical principles behind diseases were still in my retrievable memory.
TUN students are responsible for shadowing two physicians for a period of 24 hours each. In an effort to cut down on wasted rotations, I chose to observe a gastroenterologist and an anesthesiologist. Despite some interest in their professions, I do not currently expect to choose either specialty, yet I continue to have an open mind towards both.
Thus far the experience has taken me to both clinic and operating room where I observe the doctor's responsibilities and techniques. Occasionally, the physician would surprise me with questions (known in medicine as "pimping") which often catch me off guard. If I can pull the answer out in a split second I feel pretty good, if not, they usually answer the question for me. That said, I find myself studying at home in between visits to prepare for my next pimping session.
My clinical preceptors have been fantastic, offering opportunities to educate and learn, they offer more to learn about their fields of practice than a book possibly could. To gain the most out of this experience, I would have appreciated a little more advice from our faculty. For what it is worth, I am listing some job shadowing tips. As usual if you have additional thoughts, please share.
- Set Appointments Early - Contact your preceptor early to set up shadow experiences (especially if it is a class assignment), there is greater flexibility and secretaries have little empathy for those who wait until the last minute
- Dress Professionally - This is a "no-brainer" but unfortunately there are some who do not
- Arrive Early - Plan to show up at least 15-30 minutes early, in the event a preceptor starts early or has time to talk it will be to your advantage
- Research the Position - Know a little about what your preceptor does and the educational ladder to get there before shadowing
- Questions - Do not overburden the preceptor with questions and carry a card to write on when they are busy performing their responsibilities so you can ask questions at more opportune times...nevertheless, ASK QUESTIONS, you are there to learn
- Shadow - Unless they ask you not to follow or copy them (hand washing etc.) you are there to experience it, do it too
- Study - If you have multiple days to follow a preceptor, take the time at home to study relevant terms, cases, diseases or ideas that you observed in preparation for the next visit
- Be respectful - Be nice to the other staff in the office and the patients or clients you work with, you never know when you will see them again
- Show Gratitude - Everyone deserves your appreciation for the opportunity, share it verbally and send a simple note of gratitude once you have completed your experience