The Best Approach For Doctor Shadowing During Covid

More than ever, the world of medicine demands talented and determined medical professionals who love their healthcare vocations. This means that those of us who are looking to get into PA or Medical school are looking for the best possible shadowing experience, whether that’s domestically or through study abroad or shadowing abroad.

This is not only because witnessing these doctors and other healthcare professionals is inherently valuable, but also because those who work in different areas, and come from different backgrounds are going to have unique perspectives and insights into disease, medical health, and diagnostics.

Naturally, shadowing these doctors and learning from them is one of the best ways to get this kind of hands on experience, but COVID-19 has made that more of a challenge than normal. We’ve all been doing our part to reduce the effect of the virus, and keep our friends and family safe.

This means that many doctor shadowing programs have been paused, or are taking new steps to adapt to the new regulations about how people can interact with those in the medical field.

Luckily, there are techniques we recommend that can help alleviate risk when doing doctor shadowing in the age of COVID. These tips will help pre-health and pre-med students looking for both national and international medical shadowing approach their studies with the best practices in mind.

Explore Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

The first thing we’d recommend when it comes to doctor shadowing in the COVID era, is to take advantage of virtual shadowing and visit hours. This allows you to work with a doctor over a virtual meeting platform, eliminating the risk of virus transmission. Although Atlantis does not offer virtual shadowing, we recommend our alumni and prospective students to consider it.

There is a world of opportunities within the world of virtual medicine that can help pre med and pre health students gain experience in different fields and learn what specialities might be worth pursuing. 

Perhaps more importantly, pre health students should look into scribing, since some of those experiences can now (more than ever) be done virtually, and may be paid. .

Explore Additional Local Volunteer Opportunities

In addition to connecting with doctors virtually and gaining valuable experience that way, there’s a world of local health communities that can offer valuable experience in a lot of different ways. Local healthcare organizations and nonprofits are still running strong in communities across America, and are a big part of gaining insight into the world of medicine. We are confident that many of these will open for shadowing in the not too distant future; in the meantime, look into less traditional opportunities in health care settings. Volunteer help is often both needed and welcome, and you should consider these options, keeping in mind your own safety and that of those around you.

International Shadowing

Atlantis, and other programs, are bringing back in person shadowing in the summer of 2021, and are gearing up to offer safe programs for students. Most Atlantis alumni also shadow domestically, and we expect that to continue, with students seeking for ways to deepen their experience in medicine, contribute to several AAMC competencies, and, crucially, do this in the summer, as a way to liberate the academic year to allow for focus on classes (and thus grades and a good MCAT score, ultimately). Whether or not you shadow internationally, you certainly should ensure that you obtain clinical experience leading up to your Medical or other healthcare graduate school application. 

For Those Who Are Shadowing in Person…

For those who can’t shadow virtually, there are still precautions we recommend that can help keep all parties safe in the COVID era:

Pay Extra Attention to Face Coverings & Personal Sanitation

Naturally we’ve all been wearing face coverings and masks in public spaces to reduce the effect and spread of the virus for the past several months, and this is certainly the best approach to proactively curtailing the spread of COVID.

When shadowing a physician, it’s especially important to continue to follow this practice, and to go above and beyond with the type of face covering and hand washing techniques used.

While public spaces and stores might allow any type of face covering, we recommend using a medical grade face covering and quality hand sanitizer. When it comes to hand washing, we recommend going above and beyond when it comes to time spent washing hands and more importantly ensuring you are following the correct procedure. This is not only for your own health, but for the health of the patients and doctors in the program.

Take Extra Care in Maintaining Space

Six feet has been the standard recommendation for all public spaces for avoiding spread of the virus. It’s especially important within a medical setting, or around those who might be immunocompromised to follow those guidelines and then some whole taking precaution as to keep all surfaces sanitized and ensuring that face coverings and additional personal protective equipment are regularly changed as necessary.

Other Small Considerations

Some other small considerations that help those in medical settings go the extra mile for safety and health might not even be things you’d normally consider.

We recommend carrying with you several sets of pens and pads of paper, in case colleagues or patients need to borrow or use them. That way you won’t risk having a used pen around you all day.

Additionally, having a set of handkerchiefs to open doors and easily dispose of makes just a little extra difference when it comes to avoiding surfaces, and following guidelines.

All things considered, the COVID era is certainly a big change for everyone, especially those in the medical community. The biggest challenge is that for those looking to contribute and help others, we need to do more and show care for everyone. We feel that these are all terrific options for those looking to not only make a significant positive impact in their communities during the COVID era, but also gain valuable experience in the world of medicine.

If you found these tips helpful and would like to explore more about Atlantis, shadowing programs, premed study abroad, and international pre-health programs, contact us today to learn more about how to get involved, and explore resources on how to get started.