July 19, 2021

4 Tips for Blending In-Person and Virtual Shadowing Experiences

Maham Zulfiqar and Priyanka Mistry

By: Maham Zulfiqar and Priyanka Mistry 

“Virtual shadowing is a waste of time.”

All of us in the premed community have probably heard or thought this over the past year as we casually sat in our beds and watched clinical shadowing videos.

We may also have wondered, does virtual shadowing really count for anything?

As fellow pre-meds, we think that virtual shadowing can definitely play a strong role in your medical school applications if applied effectively.

Here’s how you can strengthen your application and maximize your medical knowledge by combining virtual and in person shadowing opportunities!


4 Tips for Blending In-Person and Virtual Shadowing Experiences

A Guide to Make the Most of Both Your Virtual and In-Person Shadowing

Tip #1: Use Virtual Shadowing for Breadth and In-Person Shadowing for Depth

Virtual shadowing opportunities can serve as a quick preview of a vast array of specialties since they provide more breadth compared to shadowing a physician working in one specialty.

You can then consider specialties that excite you the most and explore those further in person. For example, one of us was particularly curious about the crossover between pediatrics and neurology, and after using virtual shadowing to explore both specialties, she focused on one to shadow in person, taking advantage of both opportunities!

Tip #2: Use Virtual Shadowing to Develop Skills that You Can Apply to In-Person Shadowing

You can make use of virtual shadowing to explore cases while gaining insight into how healthcare professionals competently interact with their patients. How do physicians relay bad news? How do they communicate effectively with patients of different cultural backgrounds?

The relatively more interactive virtual shadowing environment helps you learn how to deal with such sensitive issues. You can then apply and build on these skills to successfully provide patient-centered care for the rest of your healthcare career. 

Tip #3: Use Virtual Shadowing to Find Your Tribe and In-Person Shadowing to Find Your Mentor

We know it can be tricky to befriend healthcare professionals and patients within huge virtual shadowing zoom calls.

In-person shadowing allows for stronger mentor-mentee relationships to be forged, and after continuous shadowing, these relationships could lead to solid letters of recommendation for medical school.

However, virtual shadowing can prove fruitful in building a network and diverse global pre-med community. It also affords you access to MCAT study groups, tips, and a staggering wealth of perspectives different from your own.

Being mindful of the pros of each can help you reap benefits from both.   

Tip #4: Become a Pro Blender of Virtual and In-Person Shadowing

Now that you have read several perks of both virtual and in-person shadowing, we highly recommend that you try both for yourself and see how you can maximize your gains from different shadowing outlets.

While we’ve all had our doubts about virtual shadowing, it points to the resourcefulness and passion of the healthcare community.

We definitely plan to continue being Pro Blenders, and we recommend these virtual shadowing opportunities to help you find your own blend with in-person experiences of your choosing.


Have any questions about in-person versus virtual shadowing? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!

About the Authors:

Maham Zulfiqar graduated from the University of Toronto with a double major in Neuroscience and Evolutionary Anthropology. She has finally stopped ricocheting between art and science and hopes to pursue a career in the medical field. Her interests include abstract art, history, reading, and cricket.

Priyanka Mistry is an incoming sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience on the pre-med track. She is also minoring in Human Movement Sciences, with a focus on functional neuroanatomy. Currently, she is researching physiological stimulation in the Lifespan Emotional Development Lab and is passionate about helping the community through various volunteer activities.

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