Pre-Med Shadowing

The definition of clinical shadowing is often misconstrued with student volunteering or physician mentoring. Having a shadow should not take a provider any extra time. By nature, we’ve found that most physicians like to teach but additional time spent talking to prospective physicians is not required. Due to the lack of “hands on” interaction with the patient, there is limited liability other than patient privacy. 


Compare the definitions of volunteering, mentoring, and clincial shadowing:


Clinical Volunteering: Helping or participating in a clinical setting. Primarily benefits others. May include verbal and/or physical contact with a patient. May lead to shadowing.


Mentoring: Advising or training, especially a younger colleague. Generally benefits both mentor and mentee. Involves teaching. Could involve physical contact with a patient and/or learning procedures. May lead to letter of recommendation for mentee. 

Clinical Shadowing: Observing doctor-patient interactions. Primarily benefits the shadow. Usually includes no patient interaction or physical contact. The physician is not required to teach the shadow, and is likely NOT to write a letter of recommendation. May lead to mentoring. 




Definition of Clinical Shadowing


Refoster Your Love of Medicine

Community Impact

Walla Walla is a wonderfully close-knit community with strong roots in Washington state's medical history. Although a medical education requires seeing a diverse population of patients, the fact that medical schools are centered around large urban cities makes students unaware of the benefits and highlights of small-town rural medicine.


The need to encourage future generations of physicians to come back to Walla Walla was a central theme from a shadowing survey directed at Walla Walla's providers. How can prospective physicians be knowledgeable about all types of medical practice if we do not give them the opportunity to watch, learn, and reflect? Join the Walla Walla Clinical Shadowing Program to make an impact on the future generation of physicians today!




Shadowing provides prospective physicians with the opportunity to witness first hand both the joys and frustrations of practicing medicine. They get to see how we handle delivering bad news or dealing with difficult patients. Shadowing allows students to develop a more realistic understanding of what medicine can and cannot do. Keep in mind; HIPAA is not a barrier even though it’s often misused to prevent students from shadowing. 


Students will be asking themselves questions you once asked yourself: Can I see myself doing this on a daily basis? What are the joys and frustrations of a career in medicine? Am I drawn to diagnostic problem solving? To procedures? What types of patients am I drawn to? As a physician, your knowledge and expertise is invaluable to students who need answers to important questions like these. 



Become A Mentor

It doesn't take as much time as you think!


The #1 complaint we receive from physicians about the roadblocks to student-physician relationships is TIME.  Whether the physician feels a student demands too much time, or the physician just didn't have the time to give in the first place, the demands on a doctor's overflowing schedule are a serious concern in regard to shadowing.




Surprisingly, the time requirement for a student to shadow is vastly overstated. A shadowing student's job is to be just that, a shadow. We suggest you give it a try, for as little as one hour, and see how much it impacts your schedule! 


Any amount of time (an hour a week or a month) is a worthwhile commitment to the shadowing program. You are completely in control of your availability. Again, undergraduate shadowing should not be any additional burden on you or your practice. 

Still don't have time?


Sign up to grab a cup of coffee with a student and chat about medicine!