You know shadowing is a crucial part of the PA school applications, but you may have wondered, “Just what do I say in a shadowing letter?”
Shadowing – literally following a PA or physician around for a day – demonstrates to PA schools not only that you have done some research on the profession and understand what it is like in reality, but that after learning about it, you are still interested in a career as a PA. But how do you introduce yourself and get a PA or physician to let you shadow them?
The Shadowing Letter
Since our article, many students have asked us what they might write in a letter asking a PA or physician if they might be willing to be shadowed by a pre-PA.
One of our Forum readers (Rkgpa – thanks, man!) took the initiative of creating a shadowing letter, which he then let others use. He generated plenty of interest on the forums, so I asked him for a copy and he provided me with one, along with permission to add and edit it for broad usability. What follows is a template you can use to seek out a shadowing relationship. Feel free to edit it to suit your particular situation and needs.
Dear Mr./Ms. _________ [for PA - for and physician, use Dr.]
I am student at ________University and I am very interested physician assistant medicine as a future career path. I am writing you now hoping that you might be willing to let me spend a day observing you so I can learn more about this career.
If you are open to it, it would help me greatly to be able to quietly observe you as you go about your usual schedule. If possible, it would also be great if we had a few minutes at the end of the experience when I might ask a few questions about the day’s activities. Although learning a little about medicine is always a plus, what I need most is to get a clear on what being a physician assistant is really like.
I realize that your day is busy and your time is valuable. To make it easier on you, I will call you the week of June 27 to check in with you and hopefully set up a time. To reach me at any time, please feel free to contact me via phone (805) 123-3456 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration!
Notice a few things to notice about this and all good shadowing letters:
- The student made it clear he/she would not get in the way. The idea that some student might be constantly asking questions and generally making the day more hectic is not appealing to any PA.
- The student did not ask for an ongoing shadowing relationship. Start with a day (or even a half day, if necessary). After the first day, if things go well, you can always inquire about coming in another time. But don’t kill the chance of getting one day of shadowing because you asked for twelve.
- The letter is brief and the tone is positive. PAs and docs don’t have time to sift through your curriculum vitae (though some may request it from you). To keep their focus, keep it short, and make it sound like it will be a positive experience for all.
- Notice that Rkgpa’s letter implies that the PA or MDwill be helpingthe student just by allowing him/her to shadow. Everyone wants to feel helpful, generous and magnanimous, particularly if others make it easy for them. So make it easy for them!
- You may also choose to send this communication via email (I had luck with this method), which is fine.
Drop by the forum and let us read your shadowing letter. We would love to hear how things turned out![subscribe2]