Shadowing a practitioner can be a significant experience for any student interested in a career in the health professions. Not only is shadowing a necessary component for many professional school applications, but it can help you determine which health profession is a good fit for you. This is accomplished by observing the day-to-day experiences of a practitioner, which may inform you about a profession on a higher level than its standard job description. Shadowing can also facilitate a professional connection between you and a practitioner, which helps build your growing professional network!
How to Seek a Shadowing Opportunity
1. Who do you know?
A shadowing experience may lie closer than you expect! Consider reaching out to any of the following contacts. But don't stop there. Consider not only who you know, but who you know that might know someone else they can connect you with.
- Family members
- Family friends
- Friends' parents
- Contacts from former/current volunteer experiences
- Contacts from former/current research experiences
2. Connect with Alumni
Alumni who work in the healthcare field are often more than willing to help pre-health students achieve their career goals. Consider using the following resources to identify alumni and start a conversation where you can gain insight into their career in the health professions. While this approach may not lead to an immediate shadowing experience, it could very well lead to that opportunity in the near future. Consider starting with an informational interview!
3. Reach out to those you don't know
Although it may seem like a daunting task, contacting unfamiliar individuals can result in successfully obtaining a shadowing opportunity. Contact information for professors or practitioners associated with UVA (School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Student Health Center) can be found on the UVA website, along with information about their diverse specialties and interests. Additionally, you may have other indirect ties to contacts who can provide shadowing experiences. Don't be afraid to give it a try!