Student Affairs

Clinical Shadowing Program

Clinical Shadowing

Starting with the AY 2015-2016, our assistant dean for career development has formalized a clinical shadowing experience program with clinicians from a variety of specialties. This program offers meaningful exposure to specialties well before you have to schedule away rotations and make a career decision.

This non-credit bearing program is open to MD students in all years. You can apply anytime. The time commitment is typically 2-4 hours (maximum: 0.5 day) depending on the availability of both the student and physician.

The Clinical Shadowing Program is an opportunity for you to observe physicians from different specialties. Learn what a day looks like for physicians from different specialties: What do they do or see all day long? What is the pace of the work? This is also a chance for for you to talk to physicians about how they selected a specialty, how they manage their life-work balance, and how their specialty choice aligns with their goals, values, lifestyle preferences, etc.

Check out the AAMC CiM article on Informational Interviews (CiM > Shape Your Career > Professional Development > Networking > Informational Interviews). While logged in to CiM and on that page, don’t forget to review Informational Interview Questions to help you ask the right questions.

Every Fall semester, the Office of Student Affairs sends out a survey related to clinical shadowing which includes a link to the specialty advisors. The following FAQ related to protocols when contacting physicians regarding shadowing opportunites may be helpful to you as you begin exploring your specialty. 

Shadowing Program – FAQ

How do I find a doctor to shadow?

The College of Medicine-Tucson has many specialty advisors that you can contact about shadowing; their contact information is listed on our website in alpha order. Every fall semester the Office of Student Affairs sends out a 3-question survey about shadowing that includes a link to the contact information for these specialty advisors. You can also talk with your House Dean, or Societies Mentor for additional advice on how to find a doctor to shadow.

How should I contact a doctor to ask them about shadowing?

If you know them personally, speak to them about why you are interested and what you hope to learn from the shadowing experience. If you don’t know them, send an email introducing yourself – tell them what your interests are and what year you are in medical school. Briefly describe any research or clinical experience you may have and what your career goals are. Most physicians welcome the opportunity to work with medical students; however, if you get turned down, ask other physicians.

How long should I shadow?

Be flexible and arrange something that works with both your schedule and your level of interest. You may be able to spend one day with them, or you may want to shadow a few hours a week for several weeks or months, depending upon your interests and their availability.

What should I wear and what should I bring?

Dress professionally and comfortably; dress pants and tie for men, dress pants or a dress/skirt for women, and closed-toe shoes. Bring a notebook – ask questions and take notes in-between patients, not in front of them, and prepare some questions ahead of time.

What should I do afterwards?

Write a thank you note to give the doctor on your last session with them and thank them for their time. Reflect on what you’ve observed and learned from your shadowing experience, especially as it applies to specialty selection.


For more information about the Clinical Shadowing Program, questions or concerns please contact:

Kristie Bowen, PhD
Director, Student Affairs
(520) 626-2252
Room Number: 2124