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Medicine

How to Ask to Shadow a Doctor

Shadowing allows you to witness the realities of the profession firsthand, helping you solidify your passion and gain valuable insights. Get tips on reaching out and making the most of your experience.

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Jun 24, 2024

So you've set your sights on a career in Medicine? Before you dive headfirst into textbooks and applications, consider shadowing a doctor. Shadowing allows you to witness the realities of the profession firsthand, helping you solidify your passion and gain valuable insights.

 

Why is it important to shadow?

 

Shadowing offers a much-needed window into the daily life of a doctor. It's not all about glamorous surgeries; there's paperwork, patient interaction, and long hours. Shadowing exposes you to the good, the bad, and the real, ensuring your decision is well-informed.

 

When and How Much?

There's no magic time to start shadowing.

 

Aim for at least a week-long attachment, in-person allowing you to observe a doctor's routine across different days.

 

Getting Your Foot in the Door

 

Finding shadowing opportunities in Singapore can be competitive. Here's how to get started:

  • Reach out to your network: Talk to family friends or acquaintances in the medical field. Personal connections can open doors.
  • Check hospital websites: Some major hospitals like National University Hospital (NUH) and Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) offer structured shadowing programmes, though priority may be given to JC students who are applying to med school. 
  • Consider private clinics: While less common, some private clinics might allow shadowing opportunities.

Preparing to Make Your Shadowing Request

  • Get your resume ready: Highlight relevant skills and experiences (e.g., volunteer work, research projects).
  • Plan your availability: Be flexible to accommodate the doctor's schedule.
  • Craft your introduction: Practice a clear and concise introduction mentioning your interest in medicine and shadowing.

Arrange the Shadowing Experience

  • Contact by phone or email followed by a phone call: This shows initiative and allows for a personal touch.
  • Introduce yourself and explain your purpose: Briefly explain your interest in medicine and shadowing.
  • Schedule details: Be flexible and confirm your details. 

 

Tips on Making the Call or Email for Your Shadowing Request

 

Here's a sample script you can adapt for your introduction:

 

If you have a referral:

"Hi, my name is [Your Name]. I'm a [JC 1/Poly] student at [Your School]. I'm interested in learning more about becoming a doctor, and [Referrer Name] mentioned you'd be a great person to speak with. Would it be possible to schedule a time to shadow you if you're open to it? I'm flexible and can work around your schedule."

 

If it's a cold call or email:

"Hi, my name is [Your Name]. I'm a [Pre-Year] student at [Your School]. I'm exploring healthcare professions and am particularly interested in [Specialty]. I was wondering if you ever allow students to shadow you. I understand you're busy, but any insights you could share would be greatly appreciated. I'm available on [Your Availability] and can be flexible."

 

Remember, be polite, enthusiastic, and professional. A well-prepared request increases your chances of securing a shadowing opportunity.

 

Shadowing is a valuable stepping stone on your path to becoming a doctor in Singapore. It will provide you with a realistic understanding of the profession so you can make informed decisions and enter medical school with unwavering passion.

 

Choosing a Doctor to Shadow: Tailor Your Experience

Finding a doctor to shadow is an important step towards your medical school journey. Here's how to pick the right fit:

  • Match Your Interests: If you have a particular area of medicine in mind, prioritize shadowing doctors in those specializations. This allows you to "test drive" different fields and demonstrate genuine interest when contacting potential mentors (e.g., shadowing an OB/GYN if interested in women's health).
  • Explore Widely: If you're undecided, consider shadowing doctors across multiple specialties. This broadens your perspective and strengthens your application by showcasing exposure to diverse healthcare fields. Aim for 2-3 specialties and settings (e.g., family practice, hospital) for a well-rounded experience.
  • Start with Primary Care: Unsure where to begin? Shadowing doctors in primary care specialties like internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics is a great starting point. These doctors see a wide range of patients and conditions, providing a solid foundation for your exploration.

 

Making the Most of Your Shadowing Experience

Take Notes and Make Your Shadowing Experience Count

 

Shadowing a doctor isn't just about observing – it's about gathering valuable information for your future.

 

Here's how to make the most of it:

 

Taking Notes: Bring a notebook to jot down key points. This can include the doctor's interactions with staff and patients, time management techniques, and how they handle difficult situations. These observations will not only help you improve your own work ethic but will also provide rich material for your medical school application essays.

 

Focus on Specific Patients: While shadowing, you'll likely encounter patients from diverse backgrounds and with various medical conditions. Briefly record details about a few that particularly interest you. This focused approach will help you remember specifics and craft stronger essays when the time comes. 

Here are some questions to ask your doctor:

  • A Day in the Life:
    • What's your typical daily routine?
    • How many patients do you see on average?
    • How many hours do you typically work?
  • Challenges and Rewards:
    • What kinds of medical problems do you encounter?
    • How do you manage difficult patients?
    • What are the biggest challenges and rewards of this profession?
  • The Road Ahead:
    • What kind of continued education is required?
    • What qualities are essential for a successful doctor?
    • What are some future advancements you foresee in medicine?

Sample Questions to Ask Yourself:

After your shadowing experience, take time to reflect. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What am I learning from/about:
    • Patient interactions?
    • The patient's illness?
    • Lifestyle issues that may impact health?
    • How to listen effectively?
    • The healthcare professional-patient relationship?
    • What are the patients teaching me?

Remember, this is your chance to learn! Engage with the doctor, observe actively, and ask thoughtful questions.

 

Shadowing is a valuable stepping stone on your path to becoming a doctor in Singapore. It will provide you with a realistic understanding of the profession so you can make informed decisions and enter medical school with unwavering passion.



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