Request to shadow

I have been a member of OPM for a few months, and the advice and experience is terrific–thanks to everyone. I have been relunctant to approach the premed committee at my school early on, for fear of discouragement; my line of thought was that I would let my grades speak for themselves. I changed my mind and spoke with the committee and my new allied health adviser. All very supportive (I’m 46 yrs. old).

The first item tasks me to find a D.O. (I am leaning toward osteopathic medicine) to shadow. My questions is: how do I approach a doctor–is there an established and appropriate method? I would not imagine that I would pick up the phone book and start calling? Do I mail letters asking for an appointment? etc.

I could use any advise in getting started with this process.


I am glad to hear you were well received by the med school counselors…I have been too chicken to speak with them so far…I start back for post bac. in about two weeks - thought I would get through the first semester with stellar grades and then go speak with med school advisor.

My thoughts on shadowing - I plan to volunteer at the teaching hospital to gain contacts and then go from there. The local Univ. here has a system in place where you simply apply for vol. hours, and they place you where there is need and you have an interest. I figured it was a good place to start.

Good luck!

I volunteer at the local hospital in the emergency department. 8 out of the 20 or so physicians are D.O.'s, and I have no problem just walking up to them and asking to shadow them. They were all in our shoes at one time, and are happy to help out.

For family practice shadowing, I used this website:

D.O. Mentors

Good luck!


I had quite a rollercoaster ride looking for physicians to shadow. I dont think there is a particular formula or established method as long as you present your objectives concisely and professionally. I’ve taken several approaches (being that i’m not involved with my universitys pre-med society, which apparently organizes shadowing opportunities).

I’ve literally driven down streets and wrote down names. I looked them up when I got home and send a formal email expressing who I was and what I was looking for. I thanked them for their time and left my contact info.

I’ve browsed online on my local med school webpages, sent dozens of emails too. I’ve emailed heads of departments at the local hospitals and even asked my friends who are currently in med school - ironically they’ve never had any shadowing experience :(:frowning:

I got lucky a few days ago actually when I received a reply from one of the medical education coordinators at the local childrens hospital. If you click on my blog link below, you can read the email that I sent her. Not a bad one if I might say so myself

A few phone calls later, a few days and several more emails later, I finally was emailed paperwork (background check and vaccination stuff etc) so I can begin shadowing when it all clears!

My point is: You just have to be persistent (in a nice way) and fearless. At one point in their lives, those doctors you want to shadow were where you are now. Make your objectives clear, be polite and concise - thats all. As mtbiker was saying, walking up to the doctors doesnt hurt either. Sometimes you’ll be surprised how willing they are to have someone shadow them.

Not to highjack the thread…just wanted to say:

Mtnbiker - Thank you for posting that link!! I checked it out immediately and was pleased to see several D.O.'s in my city that were listed as mentors. I put together a letter of introduction really quickly and contacted 4 of them (an ER doc, orthopedic surgeon, FP, and radiologist). To my surprise a couple of hours later the ER doc emailed me with his contact info and invited me to call his office (then he accepted my request to be my mentor on the site). I’ll be calling his office in the morning. Meanwhile, I Googled him to see if I could get his background info and found out he’s the attending and director of the county hospital ED here! He also attended one of the osteopath schools on my list to apply to, and is faculty at a pretty prestigious Los Angeles medical school. Just wanted to thank you. I appreciate you sharing that link!