Pre-Med :: Clinical Experience and Jobs – Part 2

After reading part one of this series, Peter writes:

If you want to learn what it is like to work as a doctor, from patient interactions and clinical decision-making to hours worked and lifestyle, why would shadowing doctors be the worst for that? I would argue that it is by far the best way to appreciate the field of medicine.

Peter you’re completely right.  If you want to see exactly what a specialty does day to day, doctor shadowing is a good way to do it.  But to appreciate the field of medicine?  I’d have to disagree with you there.

The patient interaction and clinical decision-making that you will see as a Pre-Med student (this story changes if you’re a medical student), is hardly anything to experience as a student shadow.  When a pre-med student shadows a physician, are they interacting with the patient or just passively observing interaction?  When a pre-med student shadows a physician, are they a part of the clinical decision-making process or just passively observing a clinical decision being made?  Sure, following a doctor will give you an idea on the type of work, hours worked, and lifestyle of that specialty, but it hardly allows a student to appreciate the field and its complexities.  I think Hoover over at Med School Hell would completely agree with me on these points.  

In fact, any of the jobs I talked about in part one of this series would be much better for the Pre-Med student.  These jobs allow students to take part in medical decision making and treatment as well as actually interact with patients.  That’s what makes them better for appreciating the field of medicine.  Does a training chef just follow around a chef all day?  Does a training electrician just follow a certified electrician?  Does a new pilot just watch a captain of an airline to learn how to fly?  No, new chefs cook uncomplicated dishes, training electricians work on smaller projects, and new pilots fly smaller planes they just don’t watch then fly the commercial sized ones.  My point here is watching is not doing.  Doing something in the healthcare field is going to make you appreciate it much more than just watching.  That’s why I disagree. Shadowing a physician is not “by far the best way to appreciate the field of medicine.”