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Shadowing/Letter of Rec?

incurablycuriousincurablycurious 34 replies27 threads Junior Member
Hi, I'm a freshman microbiology major w/ pre med concentration. At the end of this week, i will have completed 64 hours of shadowing a physician over the three weeks i was home. I was wondering if i should ask for a letter of recommendation? if so, who should the physician send it to? Should i ask closer to when i apply to med school? thanks
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Replies to: Shadowing/Letter of Rec?

  • Jugulator20Jugulator20 1566 replies19 threads Senior Member
    LoR requirements vary among med schools. Typically med schools will require either a committee letter from the college you attended, or individual LoRs from your profs. If a med school requires/accepts LoRs from your profs, the most common requirement is 3 LoRs, with 2 being from your science profs, and one from a non science prof you had. Some med school accept LoRs from others such as the physician you are shadowing, but med schools also tend to want something more current, not something 3-4 years old. As such it’s probably of little to marginal value.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10917 replies232 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    No, for 2 reasons;

    1) Allopathic med schools do not require (and often specifically say NOT to send) LORS from physicians whom you've shadowed. Physician LORs are typically uncritical fluff and not useful for evaluating applicants.

    Osteopathic med schools do require a physician LOR, but those need to be from a DO.

    2) any LOR you collect now (2019) will be "stale" by the time you apply in 2022. Med schools won't accept LORs that are written more a year prior to application.

    What you should do, though, is keep documentation of the number of hours you've shadowed. You will need to be able to list start & stop dates, total hours, the name of the physician and their contact info. (email, phone number. address)

    Was the physician whom you shadowed in a primary care field? (FM, non-specialist IM, OB/GYN, peds, psych) Med schools strongly prefer applicants have exposure to a variety of primary care fields. if possible, you should shadow a variety of different practice modes too. (hospital, private office, public health clinic, etc.)

    BTW, 64 hours w/ a single provider is overkill. Better to have a variety of shadowing experiences with different physicians in different specialties than all your shadowing with a single physician.
    edited January 2019
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  • incurablycuriousincurablycurious 34 replies27 threads Junior Member
    @WayOutWestMom Thank you so much for the info. How many hours is enough? i read somewhere between 40-60 for each physician i shadow. Also, around how many physicians should i shadow?
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10917 replies232 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2019
    @incurablycurious

    You're looking at the experience in all the wrong ways. It's not about racking up the "hours" (that's a sure sign of the cookie cutter mentality--and that's a bad thing...) but about what you're learning/gaining from each experience. Shadow with a particular provider for as long as the experience is productive for you (you're learning new things); stop once it's not. Most people think that this happens after about 8-10 hours with the same provider, but YMMV. 40-60 hours is the average TOTAL for ALL shadowing experiences for most med school applicants, not the amount of time you spend with each physician.

    Shadowing is considered a weak clinical EC because it's a passive activity: observing. You should be focused on gaining active/hands-on direct patient contact experiences through volunteering and employment.

    You may also want to consider postponing any additional shadowing until you've had some direct patient contact experience since it may change what you notice about the patient-physician interaction while you shadow.
    edited January 2019
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