Greetings all. How should i document volunteer and shadow experiences?

For now, I would keep some kind of log with date, # hours, contact person(s), and some basics about what you did. When you get to filling out applications, you can then group them or not depending on how relevant you think they are and/or how much room you have. I believe AMCAS only allows 15 entries for “extracurriculars”.

Is that what you were looking for?

AMCAS doesn’t require documentation for your E/C activities (i.e. you won’t have to prove you shadowed for as many hours as you’re claiming). For myself, I kept a journal for my shadowing, in which I wrote down impressions, experiences, and a short notation of the time spent. By the time I applied, I had a log not only of how many hours I’d completed, but also some great reading to provide fodder if I was asked about my shadowing experiences. With respect to other E/C’s, I confess to “best-guessing” my hours for a lot of them. It’s not a big deal.

Thank you both for your replies.

When shadowing, what is more important number of hours or number of experances?

I have been asked to shadow aby 4 docs… 2 Fam , 1 ob, and 1 ER… I have said yes to all four…how many hours should I dedicate to each and should I look for more varity?




I’d say quality of experiences. Spend a day or two with each, and pay attention and ask questions so that you feel you’ve gotten a little taste of what the physician’s life is like. That’s the real purpose of shadowing.

Thanks for the response. So, how many hours total are needed? My goal was 200 to 300 hours, is this to much or too little?

PS, I noticed that you attend my future med school. I will be arriving, just as you are departing. Do ya mind hlding my spot? LOL

Thanks again for your advice!


Do as much as you need to feel you got a good taste. I had a fair amount of hospice volunteering (Milwaukee Hospice Residence was a great place to volunteer), as well as some time in the HELP program at St. Joe’s (in case you live in the are), but only spent about 40 hours shadowing. Your goal is probably neither too much or too little if the docs don’t mind spending that much time with you; do what makes sense to you.

Do you get to “do” anything while shadowing? Wow taht sounded like I wanted hands on… I do but what I really meant was, can we actually watch procedures?

Thanks for your help, I am getting excited…this year is a big one for me! I can’t wait to get into L and D. I will be a certified doula by summer… SO I am working both sides…lOL


What you see or do depends on the doctor and the patient. Some patients don’t want you in the room, for example.

I saw a few procedures when I shadowed in an ER, but the hospitalist I shadowed really just had me follow him along while he rounded on patients. That was just the most convenient time for him to have a student hanging around. He (and the family) did let me sit in on a very serious, emotional discussion about moving a patient to home hospice instead of continuing further treatment. I felt very honored that the family in a time like that let a stranger sit with them that way.