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An Atlanta student standing outside the hospital where she is shadowing (Barcelona, Spain, 2019


Shadowing A Doctor: The 10 Best Online Resources to Help You – One Pre-Med’s View

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About Marissa

Marissa is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Health Sciences. During the summer of 2019, Marissa participated in the Atlantis shadowing program in Trento, Italy, and now works as an Alumni Representative with the company. She is currently applying to medical school where she hopes to become a primary care physician.

As a pre-med student, shadowing a doctor is probably one of your top priorities. This is understandable, as shadowing is a great way to learn what medical specialties interest you. Additionally, observing a clinical setting is a great way to see how a healthcare delivery system operates and how each healthcare professional plays a vital role inpatient care. Because of its value, many medical schools often require a certain amount of shadowing hours, so it is important to make time to shadow a physician.   

The Best Websites to Help You Decide

Even though you want to shadow a physician, finding the right opportunity isn’t as easy as it seems. Luckily, listed below are some of the best resources to help you find the right doctor to shadow. Good luck!

  1. The AAMC – This fact sheet is a great resource for students who are still figuring out where to start. The AAMC answers important questions and provides additional information. Since the AAMC is responsible for many of the application requirements for interested MD students, I highly recommend starting with this resource.
  2. Shemmassian Consulting – If you are struggling to find a physician to shadow, I recommend looking at this page. This resource is super helpful because not only does it give you tips on how to find and make contact with a physician, but it also provides template emails that you can use to reach out. 
  3. The MD Journey – If you are looking for the ultimate How To guide, then this is the resource for you. Not only does it provide additional contact templates, but it also gives you unique tips for how to stand out and take initiative during your shadowing experience. 
  4. Choose DO – For students who are interested in shadowing a DO physician, this is a great place to start. And if you are planning to apply to DO medical schools, it is important to know that many schools strongly recommend or require at least one letter of recommendation to come from a DO physician. Finding a DO to shadow early so that you have time to build strong relationships may be crucial in standing out as an applicant. 
  5. Prospective Doctor – This article provides a comprehensive overview of the value that comes from shadowing a doctor. Additionally, what makes this such a strong resource is the fact that it includes important reflection questions to think about during shadowing, as well as questions to ask the doctor. Using this guide is a great way to stand out while shadowing!
  6. Atlantis blog post – As a pre-med student, I always found it beneficial to learn from other students. This blog is a wonderful read to understand the proper shadowing etiquette. Once I started shadowing, this article really came in handy!
  7. US News – Right before you go in for your first day of shadowing, I encourage you to read up on this resource. This quick read highlights four very important mistakes to avoid while you shadow.
  8. Individual medical school websites – Each medical school has their own requirements or recommendations regarding shadowing. Some medical schools have a set amount of hours that they require each applicant to meet as part of their screening process. If you know which schools you are interested in applying to, I recommend looking on each website to make sure you are complying with their requirements. Additionally, they may have their own resources and information that could be helpful to you.
  9. Savvy Pre-Med – Due to COVID-19, it may be harder for you to find a physician to shadow. If you are interested in taking a more unique approach, there are a wide variety of virtual shadowing opportunities that exist. This resource does a really good job compiling the best virtual options available for you to decide which is right for you.
  10. Your adviser – Chances are, you have been assigned an adviser who has pre-medical experience. If so, I highly recommend emailing them and asking for information on how to shadow a doctor. They are probably more knowledgeable about the clinics and opportunities available around your university. If you do not have a pre-med advisor, I suggest going on your school’s website and finding the health professions advising staff or a pre-med club on campus that may have their own resources they can share with you.

Shadowing is a wonderful way to learn which fields of medicine are right for you. Additionally, building a relationship with a physician is a great way to earn a letter of recommendation for medical school. However, if you are concerned about the time constraints that could come with shadowing while being in school, there are other opportunities that can provide valuable shadowing experiences, such as Atlantis shadowing programs that occur over school breaks. Ultimately, what you choose to pursue should be something that you enjoy. Taking the time to find unique experiences is a great way to embody the qualities medical schools are looking for.

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

John Daines headshot.

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
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

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

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
Snow Nwankwo headshot.

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
Kayla Riegler headshot.

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.

A student smiling and learning how to kayak.

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.