Observerships vs. Shadowing

AMOpportunities provides international medical graduates (IMGs) observership experiences. However, many IMGs wonder about the difference between an observerships and shadowing. We’ve decided to help clarify the two here: 

Observerships

Observerships are shadowing-only experiences. Students observe a physician in their day-do-day environment. There is no direct patient care involved, which means no histories, physicals, or access to patient data. Observerships are available for many types of students from those currently in medical school to IMGs.These programs take place in a variety of places from the hospital, to the clinic, to ambulatory care, to urgent care and more. Observerships are often formalized programs.  

Good for exposing IMGs to the U.S. clinical environment, observership programs help fill any gaps in clinical experience. Though they do not fulfill residency requirements for hands-on training, observerships can help IMGs volunteer to present cases, network, and earn letters of recommendation for future residency programs.  

Shadowing  

Shadowing is less formal than an observership program. When IMGs shadow a physician, they observe and follow a physician’s day-to-day schedule. While shadowing, IMGs are not allowed to interact directly with patients. These opportunities expose IMGs to a physician’s daily life, but do not result in letters of recommendation. These experiences are not formally recognized, and thus, do not carry the same weight as observership programs. Shadowing experiences and opportunities are often good topics of conversation in an interview.  


AMOpportunities provides a multitude of observership experiences for IMGs. Check out our available observerships