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So UBC strongly discourages physician shadowing. I volunteer as a medical clinic assistant. Although it's not strictly "shadowing", my main responsibility is to interview patients and record their medical concerns. This sounds like exactly the kind of irresponsibility and breach of confidentiality UBC describes in their statement on physician shadowing. It's unfortunate that this experience has been one of those key experiences that inspired me to pursue medicine. But now I am worried that I can't even list it on my application. Thoughts?

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1 hour ago, macmade said:

So UBC strongly discourages physician shadowing. I volunteer as a medical clinic assistant. Although it's not strictly "shadowing", my main responsibility is to interview patients and record their medical concerns. This sounds like exactly the kind of irresponsibility and breach of confidentiality UBC describes in their statement on physician shadowing. It's unfortunate that this experience has been one of those key experiences that inspired me to pursue medicine. But now I am worried that I can't even list it on my application. Thoughts?

There’s a difference between just Classic ‘shadowing’ where you just show up and watch a doctor practice and actually being involved officially in some capacity with patients. Obviously in the first case there are many potential issues with confidentiality - for example, patients may not be in a position to decline having their information shared with someone who isn’t actually involved in their care because the doctor just brings the shadower in without asking (which I have seen happen often unfortunately). Contrast this with a volunteer position with policies, etc. that govern confidentiality and the volunteers are more involved with patient care officially. Or research labs where students volunteer and interview patients — usually there is ethics, etc. dictating patient confidentiality that everyone adheres to. These don’t have the same issues as shadowing that the college is concerned about

I can’t comment on your particular position because I don’t know the details of it. Is there a reason this clinic uses volunteers instead of paid employees? Do you feel like the work you’ve been asked to do is unethical or violates patient confidentiality in any way? Or do you have some other concerns?

Edited by frenchpress
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3 minutes ago, frenchpress said:

There’s a difference between just Classic ‘shadowing’ where you just show up and watch a doctor practice and actually being involved officially in some capacity with patients. Obviously in the first case there are many potential issues with confidentiality - for example, patients may not be in a position to decline having their information shared with someone who isn’t actually involved in their care because the doctor just brings the shadower in without asking (which I have seen happen often unfortunately). Contrast this with a volunteer position with policies, etc. that govern confidentiality and the volunteers are more involved with patient care officially. Or research labs where students volunteer and interview patients — usually there is ethics, etc. dictating patient confidentiality that everyone adheres to. These don’t have the same issues as shadowing that the college is concerned about

I can’t comment on your particular position because I don’t know the details of it. Is there a reason this clinic uses volunteers instead of paid employees? Do you feel like the work you’ve been asked to do is unethical or violates patient confidentiality in any way? Or are you more just concerned because of the wording of the statement?

Thanks for your insight! You brought up some really good points that I did not consider - I forgot the casual nature of physician shadowing. 

I'm not personally concerned with my role, just concerned with the wording of the statement the perception of my role by the admission. The physician probably saw an opportunity to both engage youth in medicine/provide valuable experience and save costs.

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9 minutes ago, macmade said:

Thanks for your insight! You brought up some really good points that I did not consider - I forgot the casual nature of physician shadowing. 

I'm not personally concerned with my role, just concerned with the wording of the statement the perception of my role by the admission. The physician probably saw an opportunity to both engage youth in medicine/provide valuable experience and save costs.

Certainly there are people out there who exploit young people with an interest in medicine by getting them to volunteer instead of paying them - I am always a little skeptical of positions like this. But I am also from a background discipline where paying people for their work is widely valued and students are generally discouraged from working for free, and I get that in the life sciences / medicine it’s often different. 

If you’re not worried about your role, it’s probably still worth thinking about whether the way the physician has it set up is totally above board. For example, were you asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, or are there rules that you agreed to about how to engage with patient information safely? If not, that might be something worth suggesting that the clinic implement. 

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