I’ve received a number questions asking about how to approach gaining volunteer, shadowing, and general medical experience before medical school, so I decided to post my most recent answer to R.W.
“Hi R.W.! I recommend just calling offices you’re interested in and asking if they take pre-medical students for shadowing. Most places will ask the physician and get back to you, and it is likely they’ll be willing. If you want to volunteer in a hospital you should search for that hospital’s clinical education coordinator and contact him or her. Hospitals have special requirements and sometimes online modules you need to complete. Private offices usually do not.
As far as who to approach, that is up to you! It depends if you already have an interest in something or not. When I was in undergrad I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon for a while since that is what I thought I wanted to do. I’m no longer interested in doing that, and that shadowing experience actually really helped me to decide. I also volunteered in the ER for a summer and gained a lot of valuable experience about emergency medicine and the way hospital teams function. I was able to help with some procedures and even assist in chest compressions during CPR too!
My advice is to get a broad shadowing experience from various physicians and medical fields, and keep record of everything you do so you can use it for your medical school application.
Thanks again R.W. for your interest in our site!