Shadowing a Doctor during a Global Pandemic

Any medical school aspirant knows the importance of obtaining practical experience in the medical field before applying to medical school. Some medical schools have made this experience mandatory and shadowing hours count towards the application. This experience helps the aspirant better understand the realities of the medical field. The aspirant will also learn firsthand the challenges that doctors and other health professionals face. To shadow, a doctor is the best way to learn more about the wonderful field of medicine.

Obtaining real medical experience by shadowing a doctor is a challenge during normal times but it’s infinitely more difficult during times of a global pandemic. . Given these realities, many premed students may feel frustrated by the current lack of shadowing doctor opportunities. They can overcome this by being creative in terms of volunteering. This article will discuss possible ways to do this.

How to be creative in terms of finding time to spend with doctors

Premed students will have to think ‘out of the box.’ They can create medical doctor shadowing opportunities by:

  • Making cloth masks. Hospitals and doctors can then donate these masks to those in the greatest need. In this time of COVID-19, masks are as precious as gold is because people are desperate to find ways to protect themselves from this somewhat airborne virus. While many medical experts and the WHO are debating the real value that wearing masks has in terms of protecting people from COVID-19, most health experts agree that masks do provide protection. Cloth masks like N95 and surgical masks are generally reserved for ‘front line workers.’ However, the general public still needs masks. Premed students can fill this huge demand by following CDC guidelines when making cloth masks. They can then donate these badly needed masks to hospitals, health clinics, and health professionals who deal with the general public regularly.
  • Taking care of the needy. The needy in this instance refers to those who are at the greatest risk of getting COVID-19. It also refers to those who already have COVID-19. They can, for example, check up on people in homeless shelters. They can also regularly check up on their friends, relatives, and other close ones. Premed students can also create physician shadowing opportunities by volunteering to work in hospitals and health clinics where they help and take care of the needy. However, opportunities for taking care of the needy don’t end there. Premed students can help those who have COVID-19 with tasks like shopping for essential goods and other help they might need.. Students can also join food banks and other local organizations in making and sending healthy food to those at the greatest risk.
  • Donating blood. Many COVID-19 patients badly need blood plasma to recover. Unfortunately, many blood banks are under stress because of this. Premed students can donate blood to those COVID-19 patients who are in need of blood plasma. They can also donate blood for emergency and urgent medical cases. These include emergency and urgent surgeries and procedures. Premed students can easily and safely give blood because organizations like the American Red Cross have implemented systems and programs that facilitate this.
  • Dispel fake news and myths. The rise of social media has had an undesirable effect - the proliferation of fake news and myths. This is especially true of COVID-19. Premed students can put their theoretical knowledge to use by working at centers and hotlines which educate the general public regarding the truth and realities of COVID-19. Some of the more popular myths and pieces of fake news that circulate among the general public are:
    • COVID-19 is a dangerous and deadly disease.
      • Fact: more than 80% of people who get COVID-19 recover with no problems. Many people who get COVID-19 have no symptoms and recover safely. Only 16% of COVID-19 patients will need to be hospitalized and only .001% of people who get COVID-19 will die from it
    • It’s always obvious if someone has COVID-19
      • Fact: Since many people who have COVID-19 are perfectly healthy and show no symptoms, this is a myth. Also, COVID-19 has an incubation period of 2 weeks. This means that it can take up to 2 weeks for a person with COVID-19 to show any noticeable symptoms.
    • Certain minorities are at the greatest risk of getting COVID-19
      • Fact, anyone is at risk of getting COVID-19. That’s’ why health professionals and the CDC recommend that everyone wear masks, practice frequent handwashing, sanitize surfaces as much as possible, and practice social distancing.

New opportunities for high school students

COVID-19 has made many high school students interested in the medical field. Many high schools are working with medical schools and local hospitals to create and expand their existing medical programs for high school students namely through internships. Participating students have many opportunities to shadow a doctor through routine clinical rounds. This consists of meeting with, talking to, and helping patients. High school students will also learn how to examine all patients, especially those with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is creating a wealth of opportunities for premed (and high school) students

Indeed, both premed and high school students are learning to ‘make lemonade from lemons’ in terms of finding opportunities to shadow doctors in the midst of this global pandemic. They are doing so by being creative and by turning ordinary errands and chores into medical volunteering opportunities!

At healthcare shadowing, we connect premed and medical school aspirants to healthcare professionals for Shadowing Opportunities. Please go to the website - and sign up to shadow a doctor today!

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