Shadowing in a Healthcare Setting

One of the best sources for gathering information and gaining knowledge in your field of interest is to talk to and spend time with people working in the field. Shadowing can demonstrate that you have taken the time to investigate your career choice and make sure that it is a good fit for you. It is helpful to shadow several individuals in a variety of healthcare settings. If possible be prepared with a few questions to ask the person you are observing.

It is helpful to first think if you know of any healthcare professionals yourself such as family, friends, friends of family members, and neighbors. Shadowing experiences can vary in length of time. It is important to be flexible and accept the time available by the healthcare worker. Talk to the individual you are observing before hand to see if there are any protocols or standards (dress code, etc) that you should be following when you shadow. It is equally important to remember that everything you see and hear is confidential. It is courteous to send a thank you note upon completion of your shadowing experience. Remember to write down thoughts about your experiences. These experiences can be helpful later on when completing applications and writing the personal statement.

Some hospitals, clinics or offices have strict regulations regarding shadowing and may not be able to accommodate your request.  Feel free to ask them if they may suggest another individual to contact.

Shadowing Resources

Some of the national associations for health professions provide information to students regarding shadowing experiences. The following careers have specific information and resources students can access regarding locating a healthcare provider who welcomes students to observe for a period of time.


Osteopathic Medicine 

Allopathic Medicine

Physical Therapy