EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University undergraduates now have an opportunity to get a much better feel for a doctor's day than tuning into "Grey's Anatomy." Students interested in medicine can now shadow a physician for real-world insights into the medical profession.
The program was developed by Richard Lee, M.D., M.B.A, and Michael Yensel, fellowship coordinator, both in the Feinberg School of Medicine and Susan Fox, director of the Northwestern University Academic Advising Center. It is open to undergraduates of all majors.
Students observe doctors during their daily routines -- visiting with patients and even performing surgery -- in a variety of specialties from allergy-immunology to cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The shadowing program helped Caroline Raak, an aspiring doctor who majors in French and communication sciences and disorders, decide which specialty to pursue.
"The experience raised my interest in the surgical aspect of medicine," she said. "I witnessed vascular surgery, and it was fascinating."
Raak, shadowing Mark Eskandari, M.D., associate professor of surgery with adjunct appointments in radiology and vascular, observed patient consultations. "He thoroughly explained every case," she said.
Lee, associate professor of surgery, says that although it may take extra time and planning, physicians look forward to the mentoring opportunity.
"Physicians believe it is not only their mission to help patients, but also to educate the doctors of the future," Lee said. "It starts with the decision to enter the field."
The shadow experience is particularly important to a medical school application, said Fox. Admissions officers consider what candidates have done to explore the field.
The observations teach students at least one important lesson about their potential profession.
"Even though it was very rewarding, I've learned it is a long day's work," said Raak.