Pre-Med 101: Why should I shadow a doctor?
(And why you absolutely need to!)
So you want to be a doctor, thats great! But do you really know what you are getting yourself into and what the life of a doctor is actually like outside of Grey’s Anatomy? This is why you absolutely must get shadowing experience as a pre-med and why it is so important to many medical schools. Shadowing a doctor is one of the most important things any pre-med can do. In fact I could argue its more important than your MCAT or GPA! Let’s go into all the reasons why you should shadow a doctor:
- It will let you know if this is the right career for you (This is real important!)
- You can ask an actual doctor all the questions you have and gain valuable wisdom
- Test level of commitment
- Discover likes and dislikes
- Enhance your motivation
It will let you know if this is the right career for you:
This is probably the most important reason to shadow a doctor. You want to know for sure that this is what you want to spend your life doing and this is the best way to find out. Shadowing a doctor is like test driving the career you might end up doing. The road to that MD is not an easy one. While shadowing you may end up seeing many things that disturb you and change your mind about going into medicine. There are many things you will never expect about being a doctor and some that you may not like, but you will never know that unless you actually go out there and see. You don’t want to find out that this is not the right career for you after getting into medical school. The time to find out is now! While you are a pre-med!
You can ask an actual doctor all the questions you have and gain valuable wisdom:
One of the greatest perks to shadowing a doctor is that you will have access to a physician who has the time to answer your questions and concerns about becoming a doctor. These are the people who are doing what you want to do and they have plenty of experience and wisdom they can pass down to you. Make the most out of that!
Test level of commitment:
Shadowing is one of the greatest ways to weed out pre-meds. Many people go into premed thinking about how cool it will be to become a doctor, how much money they will make, etc. Most of the people like that arent prepared to handle the hardships that come with the life of a physician. The hospital is very humbling place and shows no mercy to the pre-med. You will see things that are quite disturbing and will really test your level of commitment to this career path. Often the hospital can make or break a pre-med. You either come out of it more inspired to become a doctor or just out right never want to be one ever again.
Discover likes and dislikes:
The hospital is another great place to discover exactly what it is you like and dislike about a career in medicine. There might be unexpected things which you enjoy , such as the interaction with the patients and nurses. And there might be things which you might dislike, perhaps the smell or something you didn’t expect. Shadowing a doctor is an opportunity to learn more about the career you are interested in.
Often the experience of shadowing a doctor can improve motivation for the pre-med. This will help result in a stronger work ethic and ultimately better grades and commitment to the pre-med path.
Lastly there is one more perk to shadowing a doctor. That is the recommendation letter. I left this as the last thing to mention because I believe the reasons mentioned before are more important. However it is no lie that a recommendation letter from a doctor is highly sought after and very valuable to getting into medical school. So if you shadow a physician you have a strong chance of receiving a powerful recommendation letter that could help boost your chances of acceptance into the medical school of your choice.
There are many great things about becoming a doctor, but there are also many difficulties that most pre-meds have not considered yet. Shadowing a doctor allows you the opportunity to see first hand if this is the right career for you. After all becoming a doctor is a serious commitment. It is time consuming, stressful, and at times financially difficult. Being able to shadow a doctor will provide you the chance to see for yourself if this is what you want to spend your life doing.