It is imperative for all premeds to spend time learning about the medical profession through a variety of experiences. Premed students can volunteer in hospitals, free clinics, or other sites to gain experience in a medical setting and show that they have at least a rudimentary understanding of the medical profession and patient care. It is important to commit time to a health care facility to show your dedication to your chosen path.
In addition to volunteering in a medical setting, many premeds spend time shadowing physicians to learn about their particular field of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship. While shadowing can be both educational and beneficial, it has relatively limited value in that most of it is short-term, spanning only a few days to a few weeks. Regular volunteering in a medical setting—at least four hours per week over many months—allows premeds to see a hospital or other facility over a longer period of time and thereby understand its rhythms and daily flow on a sustained basis.
A medical student at Stanford shares her reflections on shadowing and the insights she gained from it in this post on AM Rounds, the blog sponsored by the journal Academic Medicine.
No matter whether you shadow or volunteer on a regular basis, the more experience you have within medicine, the more you will learn about the medical profession.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting