Should I shadow a doctor to strengthen my medical school application?

Gaining clinical experience is an important part of the medical school application. But some have questioned if it’s necessary to shadow a doctor in order to be a competitive medical school applicant.

It’s true that shadowing is a great experience, as it exposes you to patient care in a clinical setting and gives you an idea of the day-to-day demands of a medical career. But as a pre-med student, you're often balancing a rigorous academic schedule, along with extracurricular and personal responsibilities, so shadowing may not be a possibility.

In a recent survey of medical school admissions officers conducted by the AAMC, 87% of survey respondents indicated that they accept an alternate activity instead of clinical shadowing.

No matter how you choose to gain clinical experience, it’s important to remember quality is more important than quantity.

Admissions officers want you to not only show depth of experience and a longitudinal commitment to the work you choose, but also to be able to articulate how your medical exposure has informed your motivation for a career in medicine.

You can learn more about each school's policies regarding clinical experiences in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR). It's also a good idea to contact any medical school that you’re interested in to ensure that your planned activity meets their admission criteria.