Background: Premedical students are educated in basic biological and health sciences. As a complement to traditional premedical coursework, medical school applicants are encouraged to shadow practitioners, with the hope that observation will introduce students to the culture and practice of healthcare. Yet the shadowing experience varies widely across practitioners and institutions; resources that guide students’ critical reflection and structure the experience are scarce.
Development: A pilot experiential learning course, Doctoring Undercover: Shadowing and the Culture of Medicine, was developed to fill this gap. The course consisted of three parts: an introduction to medical culture through the disciplines of medical sociology, history, anthropology, and bioethics; a site placement in which students applied these fields’ analytical techniques to the study of medical culture and practice; and the development of an online activity guide that other premedical students may adapt to their shadowing circumstances.
Implementation: Students reported that they were exposed to new disciplinary perspectives and interprofessional environments that they would not traditionally encounter. Students’ contributions to the shadowing guide encouraged active learning and reflection on the dynamics of effective patient-provider relationships and shadowing experiences.
Future Directions: Locally, the class may be scaled for a larger group of premedical students and incorporated into a formal pathway program for premedical students; the content will also be integrated into the clinical medicine course for first-year medical students. Online, the guide will be promoted for use by other institutions and by individuals planning extracurricular shadowing experiences; feedback will be solicited. Tools for evaluating the short- and long-term impact of the course and guide will be developed and validated. Observational and experimental studies of the course’s impact should be conducted.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Clark, Claire D., "Doctoring Undercover: Updating the Educational Tradition of Shadowing" (2016). Behavioral Science Faculty Publications. 27.