Professional Observation Experiences

Professional Observation Experiences

A Professional Observation Experience, commonly referred to as a “Shadowing Experience”, is an educational exploration where students can learn about a particular occupation or profession by observing or “shadowing” a practitioner in their professional environment. The Professional Observation Mentor is the individual the students is observing/shadowing. The Faculty Advisor, if applicable, is a faculty member at FSC who has sponsored this experience for academic credit.

Professional observation experiences allow students to better understand their field of interest, receive mentoring, establish a professional network, and make their academic studies more relevant.  The following handouts provide additional helpful information:

There are a variety of opportunities for pre-health students to gain exposure to healthcare settings, medical professionals, and patients. It is not the title of the experience that matters but, rather, what a student learned throughout the experience. Most health profession programs are unconcerned as to whether the opportunity is called an "internship" vs. "volunteer position" but will want to know how the experience shaped your view of healthcare and helps you articulate your capacity to be a great provider of care. Pre-Health students should also explore information about Volunteering and Direct Patient Care.

Report Your Experiences

FSC students majoring in Biology or Chemistry must report all extracurricular activities (even those not being completed for academic credit) to the Director of Career Development.

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Professional Observation Opportunities

Summer Experiences

Each program determines their own eligibility, program duration, student responsibilities, etc. Note: many international programs require a significant fee to participate.

Professional Observation Placement

Students in the Pre-Professional Program (P3) who are interested in shadowing a healthcare provider in the Lakeland area are eligible to request a professional observation experience via the placement process. Through this process, the Director of Career Development will work to secure you an opportunity with a mentor that will provide a meaningful and worthwhile experience.

Finding Your Own Observation Experience

Students are encourage to research and secure their own professional observation experiences throughout the school year, during school breaks, and overs summer. Generally, the process of researching facilities, outreaching to individuals, and securing an opportunity takes multiple weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that students begin the steps below well in advance of their intended start date.

Notice for all students participating in healthcare experiences abroad: You can face challenges when you travel to other countries if you don’t choose your program wisely and prepare in advance on how to react and behave in situations that may occur while abroad. Please review the following documents regarding appropriate patient care: Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad from the AAMC Finding an Appropriate Global Health Experience (provided with permission from the University of Minnesota) Learning Ethically While Abroad (provided with permission from the University of Minnesota)

Once you Have Secured a Pre-Health Opportunity

Complete the Learning Agreement Code of Conduct Form, and HIPPA Training and Quiz found on the Reporting Experiences page and return to the Director of Career Development, Review the Professional Observation Guide for more information.

Dress professionally and comfortably. For healthcare settings and labs this means closed-toed shoes and business profession dress (scrubs may also be appropriate depending on the location).

Confirm important logistical information with the professional. For example, when will it be appropriate to ask questions? For healthcare settings also establish how you will be introduced to patients and how a patient is asked if you can observe the patient-physician interaction.

Once you begin, track important details about your experience!

After the experience, write a thank you note to give the professional on your last day that thanks them for their time. If you think it went well, consider asking for a letter of recommendation right away.

Tracking Your Experiences

Since you will need to report your activities on your future health profession applications, it is important that you keep a journal of your experiences for your own records. You should track experience start/end dates, supervisor information, average hours per week spent in the activity, and your reflections including: great moments, not so great moments, "ah-ha" moments, memorable patients/clients, difficult patients/clients, things you learned about yourself, things you learned about healthcare, hot topics in the field, new philosophies, new technology/devices you were exposed to, etc. Be sure to also notate the names of specific procedure as well as the correct medical/scientific terminology.

Additionally, FSC students majoring in Biology or Chemistry must report all extracurricular activities (even those not being completed for academic credit) to the Director of Career Development.

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Questions? Contact the Director of Career Development,