MIT Prehealth Advising Organizes Successful Physician Shadow Program

By Lauren Makucin, Prehealth Advising Assistant, GECD

Image of DoctorThis spring, Prehealth Advising, part of Global Education and Career Development (GECD), will launch the sixth installment of the annual MIT Physician Shadow Program. The goal of the MIT Physician Shadow Program is to provide MIT Prehealth students with the opportunity to observe a typical work day for a physician, and gain exposure to a healthcare environment. The MIT Physician Shadow Program is one of many options that Prehealth Advising encourages students participate in as a way to explore careers in healthcare or medicine and begin preparing for their medical school application. Interested students can sign up for a half or full day shadowing experience at Children’s Hospital Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital, or Tufts Medical Center. In 2011, the MIT Physician Shadow Program connected 89 students with 53 physicians from these three hospitals.

Survey feedback collected from both physicians and students who participated in the 2011MIT Physician Shadow Program indicates this program is having a positive effect:

  • 100% of student respondents said they would recommend this program to other MIT students interested in the health professions, and 100% of physician respondents said they would consider participating in the program again.
  • Most physicians felt students came to the shadowing experience prepared and 98% rated their students with either excellent or good professionalism. 94% of responding students agreed or strongly agreed that the experience gave them a better understanding about a specific specialty area of medicine.

Reflecting on her experience, one student stated; “I saw a really great range of physician care. Because I was with the neonatal ICU team, we were frequently in the OR for deliveries as well is in the NICU patient ward. In the NICU ward, I was able to sit in on their morning rounds.”It is clear from comments like this one that student participants are being exposed to a variety of physician tasks and responsibilities within the participating hospitals.

The MIT Physician Shadow Program has grown from 50 students and one participating hospital to close to 100 students and three participating hospitals since its inception in 2007. Last year, the program expanded to include a partnership with Children’s Hospital Boston, which provided 11 of the new shadow opportunities available to students. Student’s feedback is positive, for example; “Even though I know how hard it would be to be a physician, I didn't know exactly how difficult the average day of a physician would be. It was definitely a humbling and inspiring experience”. Prehealth Advising hopes to continue expanding the program to allow an increased number of student participants to take advantage of this valuable learning opportunity.