Clinical Shadowing vs Medical Scribe: Where To Begin For A Bright Medical Career?

Having experience and background in medicine is very crucial for any aspiring physician, especially when most medical admission boards ask such questions during interviews. But where to begin? Would clinical shadowing or medical scribe give you advantages in answering hypothetical situations? Let’s find out.

Clinical Shadowing vs Medical Scribe
Clinical Shadowing vs Medical Scribe

Clinical shadowing

Shadowing a doctor

A person who shadows a doctor is someone who would follow physicians and stay at arm-length when they are seeing patients. They usually observe how doctors carry out procedures and handle situations. This includes patient complaints, physicians questions and advice and much more! 

 Shadowing a doctor
Shadowing a doctor

Note that a shadowing doctor would rarely perform any treatments so they are not likely to have any responsibilities with patient’s care. However, the basics of confidentiality, professionalism and ethical standards must still be met when being on duty. Many have reported that they became even more interested in medical fields after their shadowing period.

Where to shadow

Clinical shadowing requires a doctor, so naturally, at hospital, clinics or at a medical care facility. Though attending as shadow would be easier for students who are in medical school since many prestigious medical colleges offer a chance for their students to shadow at an associated institution, it is still a chance available for anyone of interest and have met some qualifications.

 Where to shadow
Where to shadow

If you aren’t in pre-health, many hospitals have a program set up to offer interested-people a chance to obtain observational experience as a clinical shadow with physicians. Just contact your nearby hospitals for the program or simply call a doctor up and ask! Although it sounds old fashioned, many areas with fewer hospitals are unlikely to have a program going on, so this type of approach might be worth a shot.

What do you do when shadowing

Be aware that many facilities are hesitant when allowing someone shadow a doctor since it may present hazardous situations to patients. Unlike other positions, a shadow won’t need any training, but that also means that they most likely won’t be able to get hands-on experience with medical situations. However, the reality of them being in the situation, constantly exposed to the emergencies, would give them an idea of what they’ll be doing as future doctors.

Medical scribe

Medical scribing

Similar to shadow, a medical scribe will require you to follow doctors but it will give you more responsibility. Medical scribes will update patient records and document their charts during physicians’ consultations and treatments; sometimes, they have to handle more than one patient simultaneously. 

 Medical scribing
Medical scribing

Where do they work?

Also at hospital and care facilities, they would have to follow doctors and record the patient’s visit so you most likely can find a program there. Especially, when medical scribes are on demand, it will not be hard to find a position suitable for you! 

Which is better?

There aren’t any definite answers for how to be successful, but choosing your preferred beginning is always an option.

MCAT or CASPer
MCAT or CASPer

Medical scribe could potentially become a career if you continue to pursue it, but with long doctors hours, overexerting yourself is highly likely. Clinical shadowing however, won’t take up all your time, providing you a space to study for your medical exams like MCAT or CASPer. While medical scribe pays well for an unlicensed, it is quite competitive, but shadowing opportunities are plentiful yet are unpaid. 

Conclusion

Nonetheless, both can give you experience in medicine and it is totally up to your preference to choose either. You can get a letter of recommendation from both jobs and get admitted to your desired medical school. You could always shadow during the school year and scribe if you decide to take a gap year, then you’ll have the full experience in both.