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Shadowing a Doctor in Pre and Post COVID: One Pre-Med’s Take

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About Aldridge

Aldridge is a recent graduate of Indiana University and finished with a B.S. degree in Human Biology, as well as a Religious Studies minor. Aldridge is currently applying to med schools in his gap year and is planning to start his journey to become a physician in fall of 2022

The importance of shadowing a doctor during COVID  is not to be understated. Everyone knows that there are plenty of taxes on a pre-med’s time, and you may be a person who is struggling to balance tough science courses, extracurriculars, and volunteering, but shadowing may be the most important of them all. That’s because shadowing opportunities show admissions committees that you have clinical exposure (read more about the benefits of shadowing on the Atlantis website). Additionally, shadowing is also super helpful because it gives you a direct perspective of what being a physician means, and can show you, either for better or for worse, if this is a career you see yourself doing in the future. 

But what about COVID…?

With that being said, the pandemic has gripped our world and made it much more difficult to secure shadowing opportunities with physicians. Do the responses of “Sorry, our hospital is not accepting new shadowing students at this time….” or “Due to COVID protocols we cannot offer you a position…” sound familiar? That’s because virtually every pre-med is struggling with the same thing right now. As a recently graduated student myself, I’ve built a network of friends currently in medical school, and here is my advice for shadowing physicians in and post COVID.

Other parts of your app matter too!

Given that the world is on a bit of a pause during COVID, it can also be a great time to spin it in a way that actually HELPS you. While shadowing may be taken away in a lot of places, look at this as an opportunity to spend more time studying to improve your GPA or MCAT score. Something I’ve also been able to do is volunteer at COVID testing and vaccination sites near me- this is a great way to turn a negative into a positive and bolster other parts of your application. 

Pursue Online Shadowing/Get in Touch with a Physician

Shadowing during COVID can be unique with its differences, mainly social distancing, constant hand sanitizer, and mask wearing at all times. But even with those precautions, many places are just plain and simple not offering spots right now. Given that, an alternative can be to look into virtual shadowing options or even directly asking a physician if they have any big projects or tasks that you can complete for them. While nothing can completely replace in person shadowing, these can be great chances to show that you are still committed to healthcare, and this may even mean more to admissions counselors, who realize how many obstacles there are for in person opportunities!

1 on 1 Physician Meetings

Similar to my last point about online shadowing and mini-projects, securing individual one on one meetings with physicians can be extremely positive. Opportunities like Atlantis shadowing programs are fantastic for building relationships and observing physicians in a one-on-one setting. Being able to have a genuine conversation with a physician can allow you to bounce off any questions you may have, and is a great chance for a provider to get to know who you are as a person. This can prove extremely effective if you choose to ask them for a letter of recommendation later on!

Take care of your mental health

Last but not least is to take care of your mental and physical well-being. This should go without saying, but pre-meds often make unhealthy sacrifices to fit in all of their responsibilities, like shadowing. If you feel like you need it, don’t be afraid to use the extra time to exercise, spend time with friends, and take a break from the hustle and bustle. After all, this will only help you be able to put forth your best effort when it does come time to shadow and apply to schools.

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

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John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
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Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
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Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
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Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
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Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

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Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.