I just wanted to add that I reluctantly asked my sons pediatrician about med school about a year ago, and it has been one of the best things I've done. I shadowed him for an entire day and have been back to speak with him at lunch about various issues in medicine, the med school process, and what his life is really like now as a physician. I thought the experience would be really awkward, especially since I'm "old", but it wasn't awkward at all. He showed me some stuff, let me look in an ear, an eye, and even pulled out a book to show me some things about an illness that one patient had. He's been encouraging and has recently offered to "make some phone calls" to help find more shadowing opportunities for me and maybe get me into the hospital to see some good stuff. I've found that it is hard (here anyway) if you're not officially affiliated with a premed program to find meaningful patient related opportunities. He's also offered to write me a recommendation, which I feel good about, because we've discussed a lot and he knows my motivation, etc.
Anyway, just thought I'd share. It was scary for me to ask and admit to someone else that I'm seriously considering medical school. Good luck!
Gosh, Momtoryan, thank you for the fantastic advice. I was thinking about taking my PED to lunch and discussing this with her, so your post just gave me the inspiration I need to do it. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I was worried (and will continue to work harder at it) that I would not be able to gain shadow experience if I was not affiliated with a program. Since I am taking my prerequisites at a community college as a post-bac, I don't really have a "program". I'll check into some other options as well.
I happen to have been able to get this opportunity because the doc is a mom of my sister's friend and I decided to use my connections and asked. She's happy to let me. I don't feel so intimidated asking because I worked for two female pediatricians once before, and I know they were real people just like me. They had to worry about getting fat,sick kids, husband issues, promotions...just like everyone. One idea might be to have your premed adviser help. If there is somewhere you want to get your foot in the door, but you are afraid to ask your adviser might be willing to call the clinic and ask if they would take on a student to shadow. Sometimes hearing that it is a professor from such and such school on the line helps.
I really wanted to get the chance to work with/shadow a medical examiner. I've worked with cadavers and I really am interested in where physiology goes wrong. I don't think our states office is very accessible right now.
Please be aware that most patients would not let you observe if they were told about it. My MIL had a hysterectomy and was asked if someone could watch the surgery and she got angry! She did not like it at all! So, I would say be thankful and stay as far as possible. I doubt that the doctors will actually let you do anything and I don't blame them.
I watched surgeries and the surgeons were very nice, explained me the heart problem they were fixing etc. If the surgeon is busy, talk to the nurse at the head of the patient, they are very resourceful as well.
I'm shadowing at a free clinic and the patients have been wonderful. We of course tell them what I am doing and they are happy to let me in the room. I've enjoyed it and I can even talk to the little ones or play with them when mom is trying to talk to the doc.I wouldn't mind if I were on the other side either. Now if you are shadowing for an OB/GYN the doctor would ask the patients I'm sure. You just have to use common sense and discretion in these things.
I do have to say that my clinical years have suprised me by how much people seem NOT to mind having medical students around-regardless of why they are being seen. I had one doctor on family practice who asked all of the men that he was doing prostate checks on if they minded if the medical student did an exam too and not one of them said no! Same thing with ob/gyn. I only add this post because it took me a long time to not feel bad about going into the room solely for my own education and now that I realize how comfortable people are with it, I am much more comfortable myself. I honestly can only think of about 2 people in the last 1.5 years that didn't want me in the room! I recognize that it is different as a pre-med, but overall I think that people will be more open than you think. Have fun and get some great experience!