Shadowing Woes

I am having such a hard time finding a psychiatrist to shadow. I’ve asked the psychiatrist I work with if he knew anyone and he said he’d keep an ear out. He’s a wonderful person to work with but very busy so… Then I asked a nurse practioner if she knew any psychiatrists I could follow around and then nada. Finally, I reached out to an old acquaintance who connected me to a psychiatrist. But here’s the frustrating part, she returned my inquiry and after explaining that I’m Pre-Med student hoping to get some shadowing experience in before school gets in gears, she treated me like I had two heads. I have to call her back next week so hopefully it’ll be okay. Other clinics I reached out to were like “we only take medical students.” It’s a bit annoying. To get into medical school, I need to shadow a doctor, but they want me to already be in medical school, but to get into medical school, I need to shadow a doctor…Ugh. Anybody have any tips about finding shadowing experiences when you are working FT?!

You may end up just needing to shadow the doc you know. I think there’s a lot of liability that the docs have to think about having someone they don’t know watching them plus confidentiality/privacy issues with their patients’ info.

I tried shadowing a doc I knew, and the first day I got sent home by the department head. It ended up working out that the volunteer coordinator for the hospital was able to get me whatever training the hospital required for shadow students, so I was ultimately able to do it. Maybe try contacting volunteer directors to see if the clinic/hospitals have any programs. I was at a regional hospital, and they told me they have a shadow programs for high school students interested in medicine (i was 30…) that lets them follow one doc for one day. However, since I worked out the schedule on my own, was older, and actively pursuing medicine, they let me come as much as I wanted. I was working full time and ended up shadowing on weekends or taking vacation days.

If you’re open to shadowing specialties other than psychiatry you may have better luck. I agree with Kennymac that many hospitals have shadowing programs that you may be able to tap into. If you go to the AOA website they can probably connect you with a DO in the area that’s willing to have students shadow them. Hospitals are open 24/7 so they are probably your best bet when finding time to shadow with a busy full time schedule. I also think nights and weekends are great times to see things in the hospital as the on call team tends to be super busy covering multiple services. Good luck!

Thanks for the tips. I’m open to working with other specialties, but since I want to go into psychiatry I thought I should start there. I would love to get into a hospital. I’ll start looking there too.

Definitely put shadowing hours in general above getting exposure to the specialty you’re interested in. I’m sure you’d look forward to the psych shadowing more, but most schools don’t expect you to have a specific specialty in mind (and in fact want to see you’re coming in open-minded since so much can change in school.)

there are a lot of HIPPA laws that would be a problem for shadowing a psychiatrist. If you get into medical school, you will certainly do a psychiatry rotation and if you enjoy it, you will have the chance to do more. I would suggest that you shadow other practitioners to see what your day would be like as there may be an easier chance of that rather than sitting in on a session with a psychiatrist.

At the ER in which I work, those who ask for shadowing hours get nothing whereas those who come in as volunteers willing to contribute get plenty of high quality experience.

I highly recommend you try volunteering in a clinic vice trying to just check the shadowing box in for the sake of an application. It is in your absolute best interest to experience first hand what it is you are about to commit 6-15 years of your life just trying to get into.

I asked my psychiatrist about shadowing opportunities as well and said it’s all but unheard of for psychiatry. A big part of the reason may be the sensitive nature of confidentiality and consent for patients with psychiatric conditions (i.e., they may not understand who the other person is in the room and feel paranoid or threatened, etc.)