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COSAM Prepares: Shadowing opportunities for pre-health students

Published: 04/13/2012

Video by: Phillip Coxwell

Job shadowing is critical for acceptance to professional school programs such as medical school and optometry school, and several medical offices in the Auburn area allow COSAM's pre-health students the opportunity to spend time alongside a physician, giving the student a chance to observe and learn what a career in medicine entails.

Dr. David Hagan,'65, a retired internal medicine physician, coordinates job shadowing opportunities for the students with local practices in pediatrics, family practice, general internal medicine, as well as the OBGYN unit, Cancer Center, Surgical Center and Emergency Room at East Alabama Medical Center.

Hagan, who allowed students to shadow him prior to his retirement, said, "It's important for students to see the different aspects of medical practice and interact with different types of doctors."

Hagan notes that not only do the students get excited and motivated, but also that medical schools are now requiring shadowing.

Other physicians in the area who work closely with COSAM students and offer job shadowing include doctors Richard M. Freeman and Rian Williams Anglin, '03.

Freeman has allowed students to shadow at his Auburn pediatric office for more than 30 years. He welcomes all pre-medical students to shadow him, regardless of their specialty interest in hopes of giving the student an inside look at the inner workings of a private practice.

"With the exception of when students are patients themselves, they really have no idea how the medical system works. Students who come to my office will see a variety of age groups and get a sense of what it's really like to practice medicine," Freeman said. "I personally felt medicine to be a vocation or calling and have always enjoyed helping people, and I enjoy working with the Auburn students."

Anglin began allowing students to shadow her upon her return to her hometown of Valley, Ala. She says she returned to Valley to give back to a community that had made her into the woman she is. The idea of giving back carries over into the students who shadow at Anglin's office, as they are asked to spend time reading to patients in the waiting room in return for the opportunity to shadow Anglin and her partners.

"I think the experience the students get to have in our office is diverse. I think they get to see what their life will be like after school, what their life will be like as a physician, as a pediatrician, and I think it makes the things they are learning in undergrad school more interesting," Anglin said.

Robert Justice, senior in biomedical sciences, has shadowed at several different doctor offices, including multiple visits to Anglin's office. The time spent shadowing, Justice says, allows students an opportunity to see if medicine truly is the path they want to follow.

He says his experiences are invaluable and not something that can be learned from reading a book.

"This experience, through the reading to the patients and the shadowing, shows you the other side of medicine," Justice said. "It's not just about the patients at the time, it's about furthering their life in general — the wellness of their overall health, not just their physical health, but their mental health, their social health and their family health."

Read the full story in 2012 Journey magazine.

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