ER volunteering route to shadowing

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to share a little with those who might benefit, the least I can do after so many here at OPM have helped me on this challenging road to med school with their advice and experiences.

It seems that a common predicament, and one I also found myself in until recently, is how to engage a doctor for some shadowing time. I have asked our children’s pediatricians, my wife’s PCP, and my PCP to allow me to shadow, and all have said they are either too busy or the group policies no longer allow it.

Knowing the importance of shadowing for its own experience as well as a common source for a LOC, I had begun to get a bit discouraged up to a few months ago. Following the advice of some on the OPM here that suggested volunteering, I have been a volunteer at a north Phoenix hospital ER for the past four months.

I could never imagine how well things have turned out. Initially, the first month or two was difficult, not knowing anyone, trying to fit into a whole new culture (coming from a software background, the culture is VERY different - we’ll leave that for later ).

But then about a month ago some real breakthroughs occurred. Through a recommendation of one of the nurses that I have gotten to know, I met and discussed at length with two doctors the possibility of shadowing. I was surprised to learn how receptive to the idea they were, despite the hospital recently canceling their pre-med preceptorships with the state med schools. So I think the take-away is to put yourself in an environment where you have maximum opportunities to meet docs, and keep plugging away at it…

So today was my first day shadowing one of the ER docs. I didn’t know what to expect, and wanted to make the most out of it while not being a nuisance. Dr D was very accommodating, including introducing me to the patients, describing the patients’ conditions, showing me the patients’ triage details and hospital history and even some welcome small talk about spring training baseball during the slow times. I think I’ll at least shadow a couple hours a day, twice a week for a few weeks.

And with a solid A in Bio 1 so far, I’m feeling more positive than ever about this phenomenally challenging and complex project toward becoming a doctor…I’m sure there will be days when I’ll need to remind myself of this day, and I hope sharing this has been some encouragement to others who are facing roadblocks with the shadowing.


Glad to hear it, Neil. Thanks for sharing your story .