I am starting prereqs this spring quarter (next month) and was wondering when I should start shadowing a doctor? How do you go about setting that up-do you just call the hospital, explain what you want to do, and see what they say?

While I would avoid my route, which has been to injure myself often and meet doctors that way, asking doctors you know is one way. I shadow an orthopod once a week and it is great.

Check to see if there is a pre-health advisor at the institution where you will be completing your pre-reqs. Many times the pre-health advisor may have contacts and information regarding shadowing programs or docs who don’t mind helping out pre-meds. Also, if there is a pre-med club at your institution, they may be able to help. If these are not an option, then I would recommend volunteering at a hospital, where you will have the opportunity to foster relationships with many physicians in different specialty areas that would be willing to take you under their wing for a short time. The last resort, I suppose, would be to pick up a phone book, find a doc that practices in a specialty that interests you, and simply call and ask if they would be willing to let you come in and observe. Never hurts to ask.

I volunteered at a free health clinic for 3 years. The peds doc I worked with got to know me and I asked him if he knew a pediatric oncologist that I could shadow. He set me up with the head of the dept which was great.
Since he was an MD and I needed a DO shadowing as well, I resorted to the phone book. I had no luck at all. Everyone started quoting HIPPA restrictions to me and I was never able to find any DO to shadow. I had to contact the officer of the DO society n my area and he suggested an interview with him, which enabled me to get my LOR from a DO.
There was a year and a half bewteen me shadowing of the MD and my attempt to find a DO to shadow. FOr me, I found times had changed during that time and finding a doc to shadow was becoming more difficult for pre-med students.
I would suggest contacting your family doc and asking them if you can shadow them or if they could pass your name off to one of their contacts. Are you near a med school? If you are you can contact them for a name. Do you volunteer anywhere? (You need clinical experiences to apply to med school) I would ask around at the places you are getting your clinical experiences. Call the hospitals, free health clinics, and I would use the phone book as a last resort.
Good luck.

If you live near a teaching hospital you can volunteer through there. You tend to have more opportunities to see more clinical activities versus just answering phones or filing. Volunteers in our ER get to take vitals. Plus you are exposed to a lot of great docs who are teachers and who will take the time to teach you if you show interest.

not sure if it’s been mentioned in this thread, but it’s certainly come up before - if your undergraduate institution has a pre-med fraternity (Alpha Epsilon Delta? I think that’s right), connect with them. The more active groups will work on such contacts as part of their membership activity.
Even if it’s not AED, if there is ANY sort of organized pre-med set-up at your school, ask about it. Often they’ve got contacts with local docs.
maybe I am completely jaded but I have to say that i don’t think a hospital would be a helpful way to make contacts with doctors. Now, if the hospital is a teaching hospital, you can call the medical staff office. But don’t call the main hospital admin or volunteer offices. You will get steered wrong, I suspect. I hope someone can tell me i am really wrong! (I had a long, hard day on neuro…)

Well, Mary, my mileage did vary.
My only clinical experience was as a volunteer in our community hospital’s sleepy ER, position obtained through the volunteer department. I never took a vital sign.
Yeah, I changed a LOT of linen, and ran a bunch of lab samples. That’s what they needed, and I did my best at it. Was it fun? Rarely. But I saw a lot over three years, and evidently ad coms thought it was sufficient.
I think they liked the fact that I did it for so long, and I got some great rec letters from the ER docs (including a DO). Those docs really knew me.
Procrastinating after my hard day studying neuro,

I volunteered in the PACU of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, a good place for me at the time since I was considering surgery and EM. I volunteered there for a year then worked as a tech full-time during my glide year and have worked part-time (10%) since starting school. The anesthesiologists who manage patients in the PACU have all gotten to know me well and have provided more career and medical guidance than my “official” mentor. Volunteering at the hospital put me in a position to meet physicians (though I would agree that not all volunteer oppotunities do this) and since I had NO medical experience prior to that besides the first aid I had done in the Army, I enjoyed the opportunity to see how the hospital was organized and ran and how all of the players fit in the puzzle. So I probably didn’t get an in depth perspective from one physician. Yet, I had the opportunity to speak with many attendings and residents since they practically live at the hospital while on their trauma rotation, so you get to see them a lot. Actually, some of those conversations are how I found my back into the military through HPSP. At my interviews I had a wealth of information to share about my experiences, not only with individual physicians and staff members but about the medical system as a whole.
And I had a lot of opportunities for hands-on patient care- hooking up patients to the monitors, helping the nurses do patient care, observing physicians do various procedures (and even helping in some wound dressing changes)…just to name a few. And that was all while I was a volunteer.
Oh, and as for the volunteers in Maryland’s ER that take vitals, they actually go through training so it’s not just a bunch of bull. That was my first choice but they were full when I applied.
If everyone else says that their experiences volunteering in a hospital were bad, then I guess I just got lucky.