Hospital Job Shadowing Tips and Questions to Ask
- Dress professionally and follow any dress code requirements a site might have.
- Be courteous, kind, and respectful.
- Be on time.
- Stay off your phone.
- Understand your commitment to patient privacy.
Understand your role
- Be respectful to patients and recognize there may be times that a patient does not wish to have a shadowing student in the room.
- Recognize that you may have a lot of stand-and-watch time vs. getting to do things. Often there are specific rules around only a licensed health professional being allowed to perform patient care tasks so be patient and don’t take it personally.
- Remember that patient care is the first priority of the health professional you are shadowing. Some might be better than others at engaging with you as a shadowing student, but even with those who are best at this there will still be times when a patient requires 100% of their focus and attention.
Make the most out of your shadowing experience and maximize the value of interactions with the health professional you are shadowing by asking questions when the timing is appropriate.
Below are some questions you can ask that will work in just about any hospital department.
- What types of patients or health conditions does this department take care of most commonly?
- What are some of the more unusual health conditions this department takes care of?
- What patient vital signs, patient labs, or other kinds of patient information are really important in this department?
- What is your favorite part of your job?
- What is your least favorite part of your job?
- What is the work environment typically like in this department?
- What made you choose this career?
- Where did you get your education / training for this career?
- What kind of continuing education or professional development do you have to do in this career?
- What are some of the other health care professionals you interact with or rely on a lot in this department?
- Are there any specializations or advanced trainings that people in your career sometimes earn?
- What is your work schedule like - do you have to do nights? Weekends? On-call days? Floating to other departments?
- Have you always worked as a ________ or did you chance positions or have other roles in health care?
- I want to be an ________ - do you have any advice for me?
- Are there any things about our specific location - southeastern Indiana - that make the role of this department different than if we were in another part of the country or a more urban location?
- What is it like working at a smaller community hospital and sometimes taking care of people you know from other parts of your life?
- What do you enjoy most about taking care of patients?
- What do you find frustrating or challenging about taking care of patients?
- What are some changes or advances in science and technology that have happened since you have been in this career and impacted your job?
And here are some reflection questions you can ask yourself after you’ve spent time shadowing in a department.
- What kinds of patients did I see in this department? Was it a wide mix, or a narrow range in terms of things like age, their specific health condition or illness, etc? Did I find this type of patient interesting? Frustrating? Uncomfortable or not a type of person I’ve had much experience with?
- If it was a department that did not provide direct care to patients, how did it contribute to patient wellbeing? How do I feel about being behind the scenes - is the connection to helping people get healthy and stay healthy still clearly to me in a behind-the-scenes department?
- What was the pace of work like in the department? Constantly busy or a mix of high activity and low activity times? Somewhat predictable and scheduled, or more random and variable? How do I feel about that - what works best for me?
- What was the team like in this department - was it a place with a wide range of different professionals and different roles all working together, or a group of mostly the same type of professional? Did I find any of the other professions besides the one I was shadowing interesting such that I might like to learn more about them?
- Did I see any patient conditions, hear any terms, or experience anything that I want to know more about? What can I google, what can I read, or who can I ask to learn more about it?
- Did anything I saw in this department connect to things I saw in other departments so that I can better understand the flow of patients and information through different parts of the hospital?
- Did I see anything that felt challenging, uncomfortable, gross, or made me feel some kind of strong emotional response? How do I feel about that now? How would I handle it if that was part of my regular workday experience? How did professionals in this department handle difficult or emotional situations?