Shadowing Tips

Looooove getting emails from pre-PA students w/ questions! I recently got an email on how to shadow and I thought I’d post the tips on my blog 🙂 Happy reading!

  • Ask for the attire.
  • Show up early, be nice to everyone! Introduce yourself to the front staff and whoever you come across.
  • For the most part, usually the PA will ask the patient if it’s okay to bring you in. If the patient says no, that’s okay. Don’t take offense to it and just patiently wait until the next patient.  This sometimes happens a lot, and it even happens to PA Students. When I was in the ER, the doctor told me to go drain and abscess. The patient looked at me and asked if i was the doctor and I said no..and then she told me she didn’t want to see the baby’s doctor LOL. You just kind of brush it off because it’s fine.
  • When you’re in the room w/ the PA and patient, your job is to shadow. So don’t ask any questions in the room with the patient, don’t interrupt the PA or patient when they’re talking. Definitely do not contradict anything the PA says, and just observe their encounter. Pay attention to how patients receive the PA (Is this their first time seeing a PA? Do they ask if they’ll see the doctor after the PA? The interaction w/ the PA and patient, etc).
  • After you’re out of the encounter, the PA more than likely has to write the note. Let them write the note. When they’re done, then you can ask any questions you may have.
  • Things to ask the PA when there’s down time or when you’re getting to know each other: Where they went to school, how they got into PA school, specialties they’re in, how they prepared, etc. I would definitely take this time to build a good relationship with the person who you’re shadowing because they’ll be important when you apply since you’ll need recommendation letters.
  • If an opportunity presents itself to you, take it. If the PA offers to let you listen to the heart/lungs or ask you if you want to do it, say YES. And then tell them you need help lol. If you’re truly uncomfortable with whatever they’re asking you to do, then say, “I’m not comfortable with this but I want to learn. Do you mind showing me how you do it first and i’ll do the next one?”
  • If there’s a doctor working and the PA asks if you want to shadow him/her, say YES. Pay attention to the doctor’s scope of practice and what they do with the patient and how it’s similar/different from the PA.
  • Write thank you cards at the end, bring something to the office. I usually bring donuts because who doesn’t love donuts?
  • Something I would do differently is that at the end of each day, I wish I would have written things that I learned from that shadowing experience. That way, when it comes to interviewing and applying, you’ll have notes to reflect on. Be sure to bring a tiny notebook with you and jot notes down that you think are important!

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