Premed Life: Shadowing Doctors

During the time I was back home for the summer, I had a chance to shadow a couple of local doctors and dentists. I had made previous arrangements months before through email and phone, and it was surprisingly difficult to find doctors who were available for shadowing. I got to shadow an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, an osteopathic doctor, and a plastic surgeon. I wished I had a chance to meet some pediatricians and family doctors, but hopefully I will get a chance back in LA.

> First of all, these were some of the things I kept in mind as I shadowed the physicians.

1. Get to the office 15 minutes early. You want to show them that you are respectful and reliable.

2. Dress semi-formally. You don’t need to go all out and wear dress shirt, dress pants, and high heels, but definitely no jeans.

3. Introduce yourself to other assistants and nurses by telling them that you are a premed student here to shadow Dr. X.

4. Do not touch anything unless you are asked to do so.

5. Take notes from time to time, but it is more important to actually watch and absorb what the doctor is doing. Take note of questions to ask later.

> Some general questions I asked the doctors:

1. How are your weekly hours? Does it vary every week? (may depend on whether they practice privately, or not.)

2. Which professional organizations are you associated with? Any local ones?

3. If you can go back, what would you have done differently during the process of acquiring your profession?

4. What is the single most difficult aspect of your profession? What is the best part?

5. What is your experience and opinion on the American medical insurance program?

6. Did you have to sacrifice your social life in college to become a doctor? If not, how did you balance out academics and extracurriculars?

7. Outside of clinical practice, do you also research? Do you enjoy it? Did you have previous research experience as an undergrad?

8. What are the pros and cons of working in a private office, as opposed to a large hospital?


As I shadowed these physicians, I realized a couple of things.

I want to work in a private office, rather than in a hospital, because you are given more freedom and control over your practice (number of patients seen per day, number of hours per week, hiring staff members, etc.). And I think it is a nice idea to open a family-run office if your spouse is also a physician. The D.O. I shadowed shared a private office with his wife, who was a Psychiatrist and a Hypnotist. It was a pleasant sight to see an elderly couple working together and spending time together. They seemed like such a lovely couple^^

I want to be a kind of a doctor that takes care of relatively smaller number of patients for extended periods of time(perhaps a family doctor?). The orthodontist and the D.O. whom I shadowed had known most of their patients for years and were friends with the patients’ families. I would love to build intimate and personal relationships with my patients, and really become their friend, rather than just a doctor they visit when they are sick.

You REALLY have to want it to be it.

There is nothing more miserable than doing all of this hard work to get into a medical school and to become a doctor, only to find yourself unhappy with your profession afterwards. This profession is not for someone who is not willing to pour out their time and to fully dedicate into helping others. I can see that this road I have taken is not an easy nor a fast one. It will take a good 9-12 more years until I can maybe find myself in a white gown. But through this experience, I feel that I am a step closer to knowing that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.