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How to get exposure to medicine to know if it’s for me?


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I’ve always considered medicine as an option for me but ended up taking a different path that has led me to a very comfortable albeit sedentary cubicle job. I am considering applying to medical school, but obviously want to be informed enough to make the decision of a career change is what I want. 
 

From what I understand, shadowing of physicians isn’t really permitted in Canada. I do not work in the health care field and am having a very hard time finding a volunteer role at a hospital or care home. 
 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to gain more exposure to medicine and what being a physician is really like? 
 

keep in mind I am not currently a student and work a full time job in an unrelated field. Thanks!

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On 5/20/2020 at 12:53 AM, Happpy said:

From what I understand, shadowing of physicians isn’t really permitted in Canada. 

Where did you get that information? I've done shadowing in the past and I was not a medical student. Just email/call doctors until one says yes haha! I'm not gonna lie however, I often ended up following a nurse of a technician more than the actual doctor. But it's still a good way to get exposure!

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2 minutes ago, Mel96b said:

Where did you get that information? I've done shadowing in the past and I was not a medical student. Just email/call doctors until one says yes haha! I'm not gonna lie however, I often ended up following a nurse of a technician more than the actual doctor. But it's still a good way to get exposure!

It is. My mom asked her MD friends if I could shadow and they said the royal college doesn't allow for non-medical students to shadow. I've heard (not from them) its some liability/insurance reasons and potentially breaching confidentiality. Some Canadian schools also explicitly state that shadowing a doctor in Canada is prohibited and if on your application can hurt your candidacy (looking at you UBC...). I agree, OP shadowing a nurse will give decent exposure, and if you have time, you can volunteer in your hospitals ER department, surgical clinic, or any ambulatory clinic to give you an idea of how things work inside the hospital. You will encounter many docs and they would be able to answer some of your questions.

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Engaging with/following # medtwitter accounts is also a really great way to indirectly get some exposure- you can get a sense for what the bread and butter looks like for different careers, observe the different roles of different HCPs in patient care, and gain perspective about issues in healthcare that you may not otherwise have even been able to see in a single shadowing setting, for example.

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On 5/21/2020 at 7:34 AM, WuhanClan said:

It is. My mom asked her MD friends if I could shadow and they said the royal college doesn't allow for non-medical students to shadow. I've heard (not from them) its some liability/insurance reasons and potentially breaching confidentiality. Some Canadian schools also explicitly state that shadowing a doctor in Canada is prohibited and if on your application can hurt your candidacy (looking at you UBC...). I agree, OP shadowing a nurse will give decent exposure, and if you have time, you can volunteer in your hospitals ER department, surgical clinic, or any ambulatory clinic to give you an idea of how things work inside the hospital. You will encounter many docs and they would be able to answer some of your questions.

Yes, this is true as you say - it’s not respectful of patient privacy to have a someone not involved in their medical care in the room, etc. But this is the case of shadowing any health care professional, not just doctors. So shadowing nurses isn’t really ok either.

Some doctors will allow shadowing in the office with explicit discussion with patients that they can absolutely say no to having you in the room, etc. But it’s still frowned upon by many, including the colleges. 

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2 hours ago, hbmed said:

Engaging with/following # medtwitter accounts is also a really great way to indirectly get some exposure- you can get a sense for what the bread and butter looks like for different careers, observe the different roles of different HCPs in patient care, and gain perspective about issues in healthcare that you may not otherwise have even been able to see in a single shadowing setting, for example.

This is a good suggestion. There are tons of bloggers and authors out there whose writings will provide much more insight into a medical career than your typical hospital volunteer placement.

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Well maybe I was lucky then, but it definitely happened anyway. Maybe it was simply not official, idk! I had the chance to shadow my research director in prison also (he's a researcher and a clinician), which was very nice, and he often does that even with summer interns / volunteers. If you can find a PI that is also a MD, or if you get involved in clinical research in general, that could be a way...

Also, if some of you are interested by psychiatry, I often need volunteers to transcribe therapy sessions (audio), which are given by a psychiatrist... that's also a cool way to get exposure :)

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3 minutes ago, Mel96b said:

Well maybe I was lucky then, but it definitely happened anyway. Maybe it was simply not official, idk!

If some of you are interested by psychiatry, I often need volunteers to transcribe therapy sessions (audio), which are given by a psychiatrist... that's also a cool way to get exposure :)

Maybe it's different in Quebec? I tried to do shadowing here in NB and they said the same thing as WuhanClan, it's prohibited by the Royal College of Physicians for people who are not medical students.

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3 minutes ago, Maggiie19 said:

Maybe it's different in Quebec? I tried to do shadowing here in NB and they said the same thing as WuhanClan, it's prohibited by the Royal College of Physicians for people who are not medical students.

I really don't know! Maybe it was possible because technically he is still my supervisor, so he must have insurance and stuff? Or maybe it's not allowed and I should just not talk about it, idk X) loll

But still, I once shadowed a doctor that I didn't know at all, so maybe it's different here? I think it was in 2014, so maybe it changed since then?

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4 hours ago, Maggiie19 said:

Maybe it's different in Quebec? I tried to do shadowing here in NB and they said the same thing as WuhanClan, it's prohibited by the Royal College of Physicians for people who are not medical students.

You can shadow a physician in Canada, it's just not as common compare to the US, I was able to shadow an emergency physican and a ortho surgeon during my bachelor

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3 hours ago, destiny deoxys said:

You can shadow a physician in Canada, it's just not as common compare to the US, I was able to shadow an emergency physican and a ortho surgeon during by bachelor

 

3 hours ago, Mel96b said:

I really don't know! Maybe it was possible because technically he is still my supervisor, so he must have insurance and stuff? Or maybe it's not allowed and I should just not talk about it, idk X) loll

But still, I once shadowed a doctor that I didn't know at all, so maybe it's different here? I think it was in 2014, so maybe it changed since then?

What someone might let you do and what’s actually allowed/endorsed are different. Many doctors aren’t always up to date on the rules. And many don’t care about the rules.

Trainees who are supposed to see patients/are allowed to shadow need their own insurance coverage (from their school) and college registration. Supervisors’ insurance covers them for things that happen under their supervision... and trainees typically aren’t liable for mistakes, because they’re supposed to be supervised and have all decisions that could effect patient care signed off on. But the supervisor’s insurance doesn’t actually cover anyone but them. That’s part of why shadowing is not allowed: you aren’t covered if something were to happen, and you aren’t trained in patient privacy, etc., so you may be more likely to make a mistake. Physicians who allow non-trainees to shadow don’t always consider the patient’s rights or the shadower’s rights (I.e. your potential liability) when they make those decisions - many preceptors say ‘oh well, I just let them watch and they didn’t do anything it’s not a problem’, but there’s still potential for issues there. E.g what if you talk about a procedure you saw with a friend and it gets back to the patient that their situation was discussed in public, Etc. Not necessarily common, and most people have better sense. But these things happen, and that’s why is not allowed/discouraged. 

Here is some info for BC, your province may have something similar. https://www.cpsbc.ca/for-physicians/college-connector/2015-V03-05/04

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On 5/20/2020 at 12:53 AM, Happpy said:

I’ve always considered medicine as an option for me but ended up taking a different path that has led me to a very comfortable albeit sedentary cubicle job. I am considering applying to medical school, but obviously want to be informed enough to make the decision of a career change is what I want. 
 

From what I understand, shadowing of physicians isn’t really permitted in Canada. I do not work in the health care field and am having a very hard time finding a volunteer role at a hospital or care home. 
 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to gain more exposure to medicine and what being a physician is really like? 
 

keep in mind I am not currently a student and work a full time job in an unrelated field. Thanks!

YMMV, but I don't think volunteering in a hospital is high yield. You bring up a good point - we talk about admitting people who are interested in medicine etc., but I think it's not easy for the average applicant to really learn about it before any commitment unless there is some type of personal or professional experience with health care. It is easy to get sucked into it when you are in premed circles, and everything you choose to do after that reinforces the very idea of going into medicine. As a nontrad, things are a little different.

There are a lot of videos on youtube on residency life etc. You may want to check them out. A Canadian one is violinMD - she's in internal medicine I think.

As a non trad, my advice to get started is this (assuming you haven't come across this yet): Medicine is a vast field. In it, you will find all sorts of personalties and working models and settings to suit you. If you haven't already, I'd start by thinking about how you want to live your future personal and professional life, and compare it to the (very comfortable albeit sedentary) life you have now. i.e. How important are predictable hours to you? Shift work? 9-5? Call? How open are you with moving to the other side of the country? Dealing with the public? A desk job? I think that may also help you narrow things down. 

FWIW, I never did any shadowing or volunteering at a hospital or the like but I did come from a somewhat related background. 

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