Typical number of shadowing hours?

I am curious amongst my fellow OPM’ers what is considered to be “typical” number of hours of shadowing. i was talking to a classmate of mine in Orgo (who is 19…good kid) who said he has about 300 hours logged so far (as if I don’t feel inadequate enough compared to these kids)

I’ve have only technically shadowed once, and certainly hope to some more before applying next summer. I’ve been a respiratory therapist since 1994 though, so my exposure to clinical medicine is pretty extensive (even critical care, Code Blue team, etc.) but I realize it isn’t from the perspective of a physician.

So what would be a good number of hours to shoot for in my case?

Im not sure about a particular number but I myself have logged in about 150 so far since June of this year.

Mixture of mostly EM, Ortho and the rest with IM.

I can’t remember specific schools, but ones that do post what a “highly competitive” candidate is say about 200-400hrs of “clinical experience”. Univ Washington requires a minimum of 40 hours of shadowing (they specify shadowing and not just clinical volunteering) if you want to see a “minimum”. Most schools I’ve looked at don’t really define what they’re looking for. My 53 hours is pretty low, so I’m hoping the AdComs buy my story of how my current job shares a lot of traits with physicians.

I didn’t have that many hours that were technically “shadowing” (i.e. following someone around the hospital or an outpatient clinic). I did, however, have a lot of clinical experience (both paid and unpaid/volunteer) that involved extensive work around physicians, both in the inpatient and outpatient settings.

My take on this is that it’s great to do some shadowing. Try a few specialties if you can get them and have the time (I spent time in the OR and the ICU, mainly, and loved it!).

That said, there are only so many hours in a day. I’m willing to bet that shadowing for 300 hours comes at the expense of something else. Or that this 19-year-old doesn’t have some of the “grown-up” responsibilities such as taking care of a family that many OPMers do.

My own opinion (and this is ONLY my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth) is I would bet that volunteer hours are more significant than shadowing hours, because you are actually working with patients and showing, in a more active way, your commitment to medicine.

Bottom line, you can’t do everything.

My intent wasn’t to say one is more important than the other. I think the biggest thing is what you leaned from the experience. My only point was that UW SOM does differentiate between shadowing and volunteering, while every other school I’ve looked at only asks about clinical/nonclinical experiences.

I never took your post that way, just was interjecting my own thoughts. Wasn’t meaning to be antagonistic at all!

And yes, I agree with you - what you get from the experience is the most important part.

I didn’t have a lot of shadowing hours (50) and was told that was a weak point on my application, but not that big of deal.

I didn’t have any volunteering simply because my life wouldn’t allow me to do so, and I was told that this was not a problem at all and perfectly understandable.

Of course, I am talking about my top choice school (where I am at right now). So the bottom line is that as Terra says, you can’t do it all. Do not hesitate to contact the admission folks and ask. They are nice. But wait until April or so, right now, it is interviewing season and they may not answer.

  • redo-it-all Said:
Do not hesitate to contact the admission folks and ask. They are nice. But wait until April or so, right now, it is interviewing season and they may not answer.

I agree with this statement 100%. As scary as it might sound, calling an admissions office is a great way to get your questions TRULY answered, from the actual source, as well as potentially establish a reputation for yourself (depending on the school, size of the program, etc.). Be nice, respectful, courteous, kind, all of these things on the phone. First of all, that's just good form. Second of all, admissions people often write these things down.

And yes, wait until next spring. These offices are processing 1000s of applications and 100s of interviews right now. Not a good time to call with a question unrelated to the current cycle.

Good advice guys…thanks!

Redo…just curious, did you have any prior healthcare experience that may have balanced out your low shadowing hours?

I know that adcoms want to make sure that applicants know that medicine is not all Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs :slight_smile: