Sample Questions to Ask While Shadowing

A few questions to have ready when you begin your shadowing experience.


Students should be prepared to ask questions when shadowing a physician. You should definitely have questions prepared to ask if it is requested that you interview for the shadowing position. Be sure to engage the physician that you have chosen to shadow and learn as much as you can during the opportunity. Really try to gain insight into the life of a physician and determine if a career as a physician really suits you. Be sure to take notes. Note-taking will really benefit you in the application process when you draft your personal statement.

All things considered, do not interrupt or be a distraction to the physician while he/she is caring for patients. Try to leave questions for time when there may not be much happening in the office or between patients. This is especially important if you are offered an opportunity to observe a physician in surgery or in an operating room. The following are sample questions you may wish to ask during your physician shadowing experiences. BLUE TEXT indicates submissions by our readers, feel free to make a suggestion by using the form at the bottom of this page.

Life and Time of a Physician

  • On a typical day in this as a physician, what do you do? How many patients do you see each day?
  • How many hours do you work in a typical day/week?
  • How much time do you have for philanthropy?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  • What percentage of your time is spent doing what?
  • How does the time use vary? Are there busy and slow times or is the work activity fairly constant?
  • How much of your time do you spending doing paperwork?
  • How do you balance work and family responsibilities?
  • How long have you been a physician?
  • How does the demanding nature of a physician’s daily job function compare to that of other medical professions?

Choice to become a Physician

  • What personal attributes or characteristics are important to being successful as a physician?
  • What part of being a physician do you find most satisfying?
  • What about being a physician do you find most challenging?
  • How did you decide to pursue this field?
  • Is there anything you dislike about your job? If so, what?
  • What jobs should I pursue an an undergraduate to learn as much as possible?
  • If you could do things all over again, would you be a physician? Why? What would you change?
  • What is the greatest event you have experienced as a physician?
  • Would you go to medical school if you were to start over?

Future of Medicine

  • How do you see medicine changing in the future?
  • How do you think current legislation will affect your practice?
  • What advances do you think will be made in this field and how will that impact your career or the way that you do your job?
  • Do you think technology has made a large impact on your practice? How?
  • How has your career been affected by the new economies of medicine?
  • What is your opinion about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?


  • Is there a demand for physicians in this specialty? Why or why not?
  • Will the demand for physicians in this specialty change? Why or why not?
  • Are there other specialties you considered pursuing?
  • What special advice would you give a person entering this specialty?
  • How does technology play a role in this field or in your job?
  • What types of medical conditions do you deal with most often in your specialty?
  • How did you pick your specialty? And when did you decide? Before med school? During rotations, etc.,?

Patient Care

  • What do you look for in a colleague?
  • How much patient interaction do you have?
  • What type of patients do you work with or does this hospital serve?
  • From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
  • What can you tell me about the hospital/clinic that you work in?
  • Why did you ask the patient that?
  • How would you define a “good” doctor?
  • What is the most appropriate way to rely bad news to a patient without being too harsh?


  • What courses do you wish you would have taken as an undergraduate student?
  • Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
  • What types of continued education or training is available or required?
  • What do you remember about medical school?
  • How did your undergraduate years prepare you for medical school?
  • How did medical school prepare you for practicing as a physician?
  • How did your medical school benefit your residency matching?
  • How were you able to manage your time while you were in Medical School?
  • What’s the best way to prep for the MCAT?


  • Who do you know that I could talk to next about shadowing? When I call him/her, may I use your name?
  • What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
  • Will you be willing to shadow other undergraduates from my university?
  • Do you have any suggestions for me when shadowing in the future? Things I can improve?

Image courtesy of DFAT photo library on Flickr.

Suggest Physician Shadowing Questions

Have a question you think students should ask while shadowing a physician? Submit a question here.

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