Shadowing Opportunities

The Importance of Shadowing

It is essential to spend time following health care professionals of your anticipated field. This will inform your desire to pursue a particular field, and recognize what is needed to be successful as a health professional. While it is beneficial to spend time with one health professional, this is one of the few instances where breadth can be as valuable as depth. Every health professional has a different approach and relationship with their patients. It’s valuable to see more than one example.

Remember to record your thoughts and key experiences in a journal. Reflect on how you see yourself fitting into this health profession, things you saw that you liked, and things that bothered you. These reflections and examples will be an invaluable tool to support your application essays and rationale for choosing a particular health profession.

Arranging Shadowing Opportunities

More and more health care professionals are part of hospital systems with established procedures to protect patients and students. Be sure to complete applications 1-2 months in advance of your anticipated start date. Use your mid-semester breaks well!!

  1. Start by asking your own health care professionals, or those of your family and friends, if you can follow them for one day.
  2. Utilize the SLU alumni network. Use LinkedIn (search alumni here: and Handshake -- (see specifically “Shadow A Saint,” -- and discuss strategies with Career Services to find providers in your area to shadow when you’re home over breaks. Watch for information in the fall semester about a special January break New York City shadow program for students interested in the health professions.
  3. While you are at SLU, both Canton Potsdam Hospital and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center accept career shadows.  For Canton Potsdam Hospital, contact Patrick Smalling at (315) 261-5434 to discuss your interests. He will then email you an application to complete. If after completing your application, including all the required recommendations and medical information, you don’t hear anything for 2 weeks, contact Jane Kring MD at to help you follow up.  For Claxton Hepburn Medical Center, contact Kaileigh Kingsley at or 315-713-5309 about their 3-day shadowship. Be prepared to prove you have a flu shot if it’s flu season. You’ll also be required to sign a confidentiality pledge, health statement, and job description. Since the screening process is abbreviated you will not shadow in the OR, ER, or mental health unit, but multiple other inpatient and outpatient sites are available.
  4. The Northern Area Health Education Center office in Canton is able to help you locate job shadowing and internship connections in the area and beyond. Visit and fill out the Job Shadow Interest Form or call the Northern AHEC office at (315) 379-7701.
  5. The Rusk Health Career Opportunity Program (HCOP) provides un-paid summer shadowing opportunities for students in a wide range of areas (emergency medicine, nutrition, PT, PA, etc.) at the NYU School of Medicine. You must apply for this program; typically the deadline is in early January for the upcoming summer.
  6. If you’re interested in veterinary science there are a number of opportunities to gain animal experience. 
  7. Email Ashlee Downing at , who works in Student Activities and Leadership about opportunities to volunteer at Bittersweet Farms.
  8. Email Liz MacDougall at, who runs the Vivarium on campus.  Students can work in the Vivarium caring for the animals, and Liz can connect you with large or small animal veterinarians for shadowing. 
  9. If you’re interested in dentistry both Career Services and NAHEC can help you locate dentists to shadow in the area or in your home town.  There is also an oral surgeon, Lee Akin DDS, that works through Canton Potsdam Hospital.  Please contact Patrick Smalling to discuss arranging shadowing opportunities with him.

For More Individualized Advice

There are many different types of experiential opportunities that you can engage in while a student on- or off-campus. The options above are certainly not the only ones available to you. For more information and advice about shadowing/experiential activities, please make an appointment with a Health Professions Advisor and/or Career Services.