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First Time Shadowing Tips/Stories/Advice

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I am shadowing an Emergency Medicine Resident PA in the next few days and am looking for some advice. I have not met the PA I am shadowing yet but I just want to make sure I do my best and I am as helpful as possible without overstepping. I understand the obvious things one would never do but am wondering if anyone has any helpful advice or tips from their first shadowing experience, or if any current PAs have suggestions that they look for when a student is shadowing. Any stories, tips, or advice, is welcomed and appreciated!

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I shadowed a PA in the ER, but I knew her personally, so it was much more relaxed. I would bring a little notepad with you to quickly jot down notes. There were SO many things I wanted to remember that I can't anymore. Learn from my mistake!

 

Also, if you get a good vibe from this PA, make sure to ask questions. I would always ask about exam results that I wasn't familiar with, why certain medications were prescribed from a certain diagnosis, and just routine questions throughout the shift. This lets the PA know that you are seriously interested and dedicated, not just showing up for hours. 

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The pace in the ER is variable so know when - and where - to ask questions. Never in front of patients and give him or her a chance to rest in quiet now and then.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I would just straight up ask at the beginning of the day if the PA wants you to assist with anything. There's rules, so the last thing you want is to be the guy violating HIPAA or whatever. Keep a notepad with you... the experience is for you not them. Think of valuable questions. I would advise especially taking note and asking questions on details about the day-to-day stuff. Be smart about the things you ask if you are in front of patients or non-staff members. Example: one time I was shadowing in a C-section, and I forgot the patient was awake! I asked a question that really freaked out the patient. It turned out to be fine, but still.

 

Hope you have fun!

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Thank you all for the very helpful advice! I work in urgent care so am familiar with HIPPA and its importance, and thankfully I know from speaking with friends to save questions for later/away from the patient. All the kind words and helpful ideas are very appreciated! Any idea on attire? Everyone I have spoken to who has shadowed other PAs has worn scrubs and told me to do the same. This is appropriate, right? (Looking at past forums/posts I see many people say business casual.)

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Ask what you should wear and don't assume scrubs.  In my opinion...shadowing is about getting insight about your future profession.  Asking about their journey to becoming a PA, questions about their PA program, questions about what they like/don't like about practice, about any barriers to their practice, and what they think about the future of the profession.  You aren't shadowing to learn how to practice medicine.  So, asking questions about antibiotics or diagnosis should not be a priority. 

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Ask what you should wear and don't assume scrubs.  In my opinion...shadowing is about getting insight about your future profession.  Asking about their journey to becoming a PA, questions about their PA program, questions about what they like/don't like about practice, about any barriers to their practice, and what they think about the future of the profession.  You aren't shadowing to learn how to practice medicine.  So, asking questions about antibiotics or diagnosis should not be a priority. 

Thanks, I plan to contact her but am waiting on a response to my last message first. I agree asking is the best way to go. I don't want to go in in scrubs acting as if I plan to practice medicine myself. Thank you as well for including the insight into the importance of asking about the PA profession not only the "medicine" itself.

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Do not dress like the people who work there: collared shirt and something like Dockers are fine. Don't ask if you can assist; it's presumptuous and also a liability issue. If you are asked, feel free. Watch closely and ask questions when appropriate. You are shadowing, not pretending to be a PA.

 

 

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?Question to Professionals?

 

I have been given a great opportunity to shadow in a Calif ER setting and am very excited, but  I have a few questions..?

 

Is shadowing in the ER common? ....seems a bit risky on a legal basis

If I am asked to participate is that legal?  and where is the line drawn? ( I am an EMT and Clinical Nurse Assoc. currently)

Finally, if I had the choice between ER and Family Practice shadowing does one look better on App vs other?

 

Any advice appreciated, EB

 

 

 

 

 

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?Question to Professionals?

 

I have been given a great opportunity to shadow in a Calif ER setting and am very excited, but  I have a few questions..?

 

Is shadowing in the ER common? ....seems a bit risky on a legal basis

If I am asked to participate is that legal?  and where is the line drawn? ( I am an EMT and Clinical Nurse Assoc. currently)

Finally, if I had the choice between ER and Family Practice shadowing does one look better on App vs other?

 

Any advice appreciated, EB

  • Shadowing in the ER occurs. Not any more risky than you shadowing in a non-emergent clinic.
  • Don't participate. Outside of that ER, you're an EMT. Inside the ER, you're a PA shadow. Go where s/he goes, stay out of the way if things ramp up and save your questions for when things have quieted down and the charting is taken care of
  • There isn't one area of medicine that looks better than any others for your application. Shadow both if your schedule allows for it.
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I can't comment specifically on hospital setting shadowing since all of mine was in a family practice office, but I did spend several months shadowing multiple PAs and the NP they had there as well. Since it was standard primary care office visits, I felt it wasn't appropriate to be taking notes while in front of patients, as that might have raised some red flags in their mind about me as the silent student in the corner just watching and writing things down. I tended to follow the rule with patients of 'only speak when spoken to'. I did take note of things in my head while shadowing and kept a list on my computer at work of things I learned that I would update each day after I left the office. That list also included things like meds/tests/conditions I wanted to look up and learn more about, advice I was given, etc. I dressed business casual just like the providers did at this office, but I absolutely asked my contact person first about attire and expectations before my first day and would recommend all students ask these questions up front.

 

I tended to save questions for the times the providers were charting (the obvious downtime), since appointment slots are quite short and that time belongs to the patient and not me, and they would share their thoughts on those appointments, reasons for their decision-making (why they chose this drug, this test, this course of action for this patient, stuff like that). I of course got to know these providers pretty well, so we'd talk about more personal things after some time had passed, but just read the PA and find those times where asking questions are most appropriate. If they're swamped, clearly don't bug them with questions unless they're open to it, they have their job to do first and mentoring you as a student is secondary. There was no active participation for me as a student which I expected, but the providers did start to ask me questions about cases and quiz me a little which was fun! Enjoy it though, you're going to learn a lot really fast!

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