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Virtual Shadowing – Is It a Good Option for Medical Students?

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As a premedical student, gaining shadowing experience is important to strengthen your chances of getting into medical school. Working in diverse clinical settings during medical school will also help you get experience in different medical specialties and prepare you for a competitive residency program. Gaining physician shadowing experience can make you a competitive applicant for medical school but finding shadowing opportunities can be difficult.

The trend of virtual shadowing has recently increased due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many premedical and medical students are making the most out of the trend to hone their clinical skills. Virtual shadowing or online shadowing help premedical students to gain clinical experience without spending too much energy or effort. Aspiring medical students who are interested in pursuing a healthcare career and look for clinical experience can virtually shadow a doctor.

Many hospitals and clinics are offering virtual shadowing opportunities for students who want to be physicians, physician assistants, primary care physicians, and nurses. Students can safely learn about healthcare from a global perspective. If you are wondering whether virtual shadowing is the right opportunity for you, here are a few benefits of considering this advanced learning option.

What is Virtual Shadowing?

Medical students are familiar with in-person shadowing, but many premedical students are unaware of the term virtual shadowing. With the advent of telehealth technology, providing healthcare through telecommunication technologies has become easier. Nowadays, many healthcare staff, patients and doctors are embracing telehealth technology.

It makes it possible for future physicians to obtain clinical experience remotely. Some virtual shadowing opportunities provide live lessons while some offer recorded sessions. No matter live or recorded, virtual shadowing provides students a great opportunity to polish their clinical skills and learn how to apply medical knowledge in real-life clinical situations.

Virtual shadowing is an effective way to learn from doctors, surgeons, healthcare professionals and other staff in the specific medical specialty. Like in-person shadowing, students are required to act like a passive observer. You have to observe patient cases, learn how to take patient’s history, listen to patient interviews, observe physical examinations and much more.

The only difference between virtual shadowing and in-person shadowing is that you are not physically present and watching all the scenarios from your computer screen. Today, many hospitals and physicians are harnessing the power of telehealth technology to meet advanced healthcare needs. You can contact doctors and faculty via email and request them to provide clinical experience in their field.

Benefits of Virtual Shadowing

Let’s have a look at some major benefits of virtual shadowing.

Convenience and Accessibility

Finding shadowing opportunities is no easy feat. Thanks to virtual shadowing, it has made it easier for students to shadow a physician from all around the globe. You can access physicians from any region from the comfort of your home. No matter if it’s live or pre-recorded sessions, you can observe doctors and learn advanced medical procedures without having to travel anywhere. It saves you time, energy, and effort that you can invest in improving your academic performance and scoring a good GPA.

A Safe Option

Due to COVID-19, many students find it hard to explore virtual shadowing opportunities and find physicians to shadow. Virtual shadowing provides a safe option to work with healthcare clinicians or physicians and gain valuable clinical experience. Students can engage with physicians, residents, patients, and other healthcare staff without putting themselves at risk.

Interact with Patients and Physicians

Many virtual doctor shadowing programs offer live sessions, giving students an opportunity to interact with patients and physicians. However, some programs offer recorded sessions which limit your chances to interact with patients. It also limits your chances to build strong connections with the doctors you shadow.

Diverse Opportunities

Virtual shadowing gives students a great opportunity to gain global health experience that you can’t be able to gain in in-person shadowing. You are not restricted to geographical location or time zone and choose a shadowing program that is suitable for your academic schedule. You can easily join doctor shadowing programs outside of your city or state. In fact, virtual shadowing is a great way to gain quality experience from healthcare professionals and doctors all over the world.

Explore Multiple Specialties

Virtual shadowing provides students with a great opportunity to work in different healthcare settings that would be impossible in in-person shadowing. With virtual shadowing, you will find the opportunity to learn about specialties you might be less interested or interested in. Gaining clinical exposure to a variety of medical specialties will help you choose the right medical specialty for you.

Virtual Shadowing vs In-Person Shadowing – Know the Difference

Virtual shadowing and in-person shadowing, both options are good for gaining clinical experience. However, shadowing a physician at a hospital or clinic will give you a more in-depth opportunity to observe multiple medical cases, which can be best done when you physically present and interact with doctors and patients.

Furthermore, you can observe a field of medicine, healthcare facility, clinical environment, and learn about diverse roles within hospitals. You can build a strong connection with doctors who can become a recommender and make your medical school application stand out.

Concluding Note

Shadowing a physician is a great opportunity to get hands-on and real-world experience about your future career. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual or online shadowing has gained immense popularity and become a safe option for doctors, patients, and students. The advancements in telemedicine and high level of convenience and accessibility have made virtual shadowing a perfect opportunity for premedical students to gain clinical experience. Virtual shadowing allows premeds to gain clinical exposure and improve medical knowledge from the comfort of their home.

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