Virtual shadowing and telehealth are here to stay, so it is a good idea to learn what virtual shadowing entails, how it can benefit you as a premed student, how many shadowing hours you need for medical school if you do virtual shadowing, and how you can make the most out of these opportunities. Plus, we will give you some guidance on how to find amazing virtual shadowing opportunities and answer the most common questions about virtual shadowing to make sure you are ready for your medical school applications! Finally, we will give you an opportunity to join FREE virtual shadowing TODAY! Keep reading to learn more! 

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Article Contents
8 min read

What Is Virtual Shadowing? Why You Should Participate in Virtual Shadowing So, Is Virtual Shadowing Better or Worse for Medical School Applications? How to Make the Most Out of Virtual Shadowing What You Get with BeMo’s DocShadowing Conclusion FAQs

What Is Virtual Shadowing?

Some of you might be surprised to hear that virtual shadowing and in-person shadowing are quite similar. With the advancements in telehealth, the provision of healthcare via telecommunication technologies has become more common and accepted. In fact, many patients and healthcare workers welcome this development. But how does this affect future physicians? How can you learn by shadowing a physician remotely?

Most virtual shadowing opportunities are either pre-recorded or live. Both are absolutely valid ways to learn from professionals in your field. Both have pros and cons, but generally speaking, the activity of shadowing on the part of the student remains the same – just like during an in-person shadowing scenario, you will be a passive observer. Whether the session is recorded or live, you will still learn about fascinating patient cases, listen to patient interviews, observe history-taking, physical examinations, CT/MRI/ultrasound reviews, and so on. The only difference is that instead of being present in the room with the physician, you will be watching all this on your computer’s monitor.

If you are wondering how to ask to shadow a doctor, the good news is that the process remains completely the same! More and more physicians offer telehealth, so reach out to them via email and explain that you are a premed looking to gain some shadowing experience in their field.

Check out how you can ask to shadowing a doctor:

Why You Should Participate in Virtual Shadowing

Now that you know what virtual shadowing entails, let’s discuss some of its pros and cons. Remember, it’s up to you how you want to learn and experience the medical profession before you apply. Shadowing and early clinical experiences have a great effect on students' reasons for why they want to become a doctor, so you should know what you are getting into if you choose to do your shadowing virtually.


More Opportunities

Virtual shadowing provides more opportunities. You are not limited to a geographical location or even a schedule. With the abundance of virtual shadowing opportunities, you can choose which of them are most suitable for your academic/extracurricular/work schedule and plan them appropriately. You can join specialists outside of your town, city, or state in a different time zone, so you can learn when it’s convenient for you!

If you are a Canadian applicant looking to pursue medical education in one of the Canadian-friendly US medical schools, you can stop stressing about organizing your shadowing experiences years before you apply! In Canada, shadowing is not a medical school requirement, so Canadians who want to apply in the US have to plan their shadowing years in advance and travel to the United States for prolonged periods of time to fulfill this requirement. Not only is this a big expenditure, but it is also a big strain on the student’s schedule.

Virtual shadowing is a wonderful way to overcome these obstacles for any student who is looking to fulfill the requirement and gain quality experience from professionals all over the world!

More Variety

Virtual shadowing provides you with the opportunity to experience more specialties and more healthcare settings than would be possible to join in person. While it’s still too early for you to ponder how to choose your medical specialty, having early exposure to a variety of specialties you are interested in can really help you! How?

Virtual opportunities also allow you to explore specialties that you might be less familiar with or interested in. For example, you might think that radiology is simply not your thing, and you might have not wanted to risk spending lots of money and time on pursuing a shadowing opportunity in radiology in person. However, with virtual shadowing, more specialties become accessible to learn about and engage with. Take advantage of this! You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself!


This is a no-brainer. Having access to physicians from all over the world from the comfort of your home is a huge advantage. Whether it’s pre-recorded or live sessions, you can learn and be exposed to the world of medicine without having to commute or travel anywhere. Virtual shadowing saves you precious time that you can spend on your academics, extracurriculars for medical school, and other commitments.

Less Expensive

Preparing for medical school is expensive. Even before you apply to schools, you must spend a considerable amount of money to gain relevant extracurriculars. And while some virtual shadowing opportunities do require a fee, in-person shadowing is a lot more expensive. Of course, most doctors will not ask you to pay for the opportunity to shadow them, but all the related expenses can really tally up! Your expenses can include gas, car rental, accommodations, and even flights! For example, if you are looking to shadow a DO physician, but are unable to find one near you, you might have to fly to a different part of the state or even the country!

Virtual shadowing eliminates a lot of the expenses often associated with shadowing, so you can focus on learning without any additional financial stress.

Wondering how much it will cost you to prepare for and attend medical school?


Now that we have talked about some of the undeniable pros of virtual shadowing, we should mention some of the aspects that may be less beneficial than in-person shadowing.

Less Personal

Virtual shadowing can be less personal than in-person opportunities, especially if the sessions are recorded. But live shadowing can also limit your opportunity to connect with the physician you are learning from. Some physicians allow hundreds of students to shadow them, so there is really no chance for you to get to know the doctor.

Remember, the physicians you shadow can be a great support system. They can become your recommenders, your connection to other specialists, and they can help you find other premed opportunities that can help you figure out how to make your medical school application stand out. If you limit your shadowing to virtual opportunities only, you may not be able to make strong connections with the physicians you shadow. 

Fewer Chances to Ask Questions

Virtual shadowing may limit your opportunities to ask questions, especially if it’s a pre-recorded session. While you may still send in any questions via email, you might have to wait for the answer. Same with live sessions – a doctor may limit their accessibility by taking only a few questions after the session and leaving yours unanswered. If you need any clarifications after a patient encounter, you may need to wait before you get a response.

Still not sure about the difference between shadowing and clinical work? Check out the infographic below:

So, Is Virtual Shadowing Better or Worse for Medical School Applications?

Virtual shadowing has a lot of advantages over in-person shadowing, so we strongly encourage you to participate in these opportunities. Most importantly, you should know that medical schools in Canada and the United States are completely satisfied with seeing virtual shadowing in students’ applications.

However, nobody said that you have to choose only one or the other! You should absolutely pursue any shadowing opportunity you consider interesting, whether it’s in-person or virtual! For example, you may choose to explore a new specialty via virtual shadowing, and then, if you find it fascinating, try to connect with a physician nearby whom you can shadow in person. Remember, you need quite a few hours of shadowing experience to convince the admissions committee that you have taken serious steps to test drive your career, so demonstrating a variety of experiences is not a negative thing! Don’t go overboard by jumping from one doctor to the next, and try to commit some hours to each experience, but do not be afraid to explore your options via both, virtual and in-person shadowing!

How to Make the Most Out of Virtual Shadowing

To make sure you get the most out of virtual shadowing, follow these easy steps:

Explore Early

Start looking at virtual opportunities early on in your academic career. Keep in mind that some of the shadowing experiences you go through will not end up in your AMCAS Work and Activities or your Experiences sections – and that’s ok. You are not doing this just to get into medical school. You are also doing it to really learn and see what part of medicine fascinates you the most. This is why you should not be afraid of exploring your shadowing options and spending some time on them as early as possible.

Make a Commitment

As we already mentioned, variety and exploration are good, but you should not lose sight of the main rule we repeat to all our students: quality trumps quantity. You can explore as many opportunities as you want, but eventually, you should demonstrate some commitment and dedication to a shadowing position.

Not only will this show admissions committees that you are a reliable and dedicated applicant, but it may also result in a closer bond with your virtual mentor. If you get to spend more time with the physician you shadow, ask him/her questions, and demonstrate your interest, you may be able to ask them for a recommendation or help with finding other premed opportunities that can help you stand out as an applicant.

Keep Notes

Remember, shadowing is a learning opportunity, so make sure you write down notes and questions you have about your experiences. Whether the session is pre-recorded or not, you can send in your questions to the doctor or speak with fellow applicants about your inquiries.

In fact, virtual opportunities are better for notes and questions. You can feel free to jot down your thoughts and observations in the privacy of your home, where the patient cannot see you. Your absence from the room may make the patient more comfortable, and therefore more open about their health. You will not distract the doctor or the patient, so you can feel free to take as detailed notes as you like!

Get Used to Telehealth Technologies

As a future physician, it’s important to keep up with the current healthcare trends. Telecommunications are being integrated into healthcare with impressive speed, so being comfortable with these technologies is essential for your success. Early exposure to telehealth will be beneficial for you not only as a future medical student but also as a future professional.

What You Get with BeMo’s DocShadowing

One of the virtual shadowing opportunities available to you right now is the BeMo DocShadowing experience. And it’s absolutely free! Not only can you add this experience to the shadowing hours required by your chosen medical schools, but you get to learn from current MDs and DOs who are experts in their chosen medical fields.

More than this, this shadowing experience is totally interactive:

You will be able to explore different medical specialties, contrast and compare their advantages and disadvantages, as well as learn from leading experts in these fields. Go ahead and click below to join now!

Conclusion: Should You Participate in Virtual Shadowing?

While shadowing is typically a passive activity, make sure to choose opportunities that may involve active learning. These may be as simple as note-taking, a possibility for asking questions, quizzes and games, and more.

Remember that the benefits of shadowing, whether it's in person or virtual, are mostly up to you. You can make your experience a rewarding learning opportunity or just tick off a box on your medical school application. Virtual shadowing is a huge opportunity to learn from a variety of specialists in the medical field, so at least give it a try! Make sure to sign up for our BeMo DocShadowing to gain some of the required hours, learn from medical experts, and explore your possibilities!


1. What is virtual shadowing?

Virtual shadowing is a lot like in-person shadowing. You will passively observe the everyday responsibilities and patient interactions of a doctor. Only instead of doing this in person, you will be doing this via a computer screen.

2. Do medical schools accept virtual shadowing?

Yes, they do.

3. What are the pros of virtual shadowing?

There are many great advantages to virtual shadowing. For example, you can shadow physicians from any geographical area or time zone; you can shadow more variety of specialties; it's more convenient and less expensive.

4. What are the cons of virtual shadowing?

Virtual shadowing tends to be less personal, so you have fewer opportunities to build a strong bond with the physician you are shadowing.

5. Can I include my virtual shadowing experience in AMCAS Work and Activities and similar application components?

Yes, you can. Remember, you do not need to feel that you must include ALL your experiences in these kinds of sections. Only choose to include experiences that truly affected your choice to become a physician. If a virtual shadowing opportunity was such an experience, make sure to include it!

6. Can I ask questions from the doctor I shadow virtually?

Typically, yes, though the opportunity to ask questions may be limited. If a session is pre-recorded you may not be able to ask them directly, but you may be able to send questions via email.

7. Where can I start looking for virtual opportunities?

You can start with our BeMo DocShadowing to see what virtual shadowing is like!

8. Is in-person shadowing better than virtual shadowing?

It is neither better nor worse! It's just another format for shadowing. You can always choose to stick to only in-person or only virtual experiences, but we strongly advise you to try both. The quality of your experience will not depend on whether the opportunity is virtual or in-person.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

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