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The Importance of Shadowing

This year, I am taking Biomedical Innovations, or the fourth year of the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program. One of the things that this course emphasizes is real-world experiences in the field of healthcare and biomedical sciences, so naturally shadowing is one of these components.

Over the past few weeks, I have been shadowing at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital in the respiratory therapy department and the postoperative care department. For a few days a week right after school, I put on my white lab coat and head on down to the hospital, where I shadow (or follow around very quietly) health professionals as they go about their regular day working in the hospital.

For someone who is interested in healthcare, and specifically working in a hospital, shadowing is a great way to explore what a typical day would look like in the hospital, and to see what different careers in the healthcare field might be. Spoiler alert: it is NOTHING like Grey’s Anatomy, if that’s what you’re expecting.

One of the things I picked up very quickly on is how different departments all work cohesively to create a network within the hospital. For example, patients would be in the medical and surgery department for their surgeries, but then would be transported to postoperative care following the procedure, so they could recover before leaving the hospital. In addition, I realized how respiratory therapists serve very crucial roles within the hospital network, as breathing and lung health is critical to oversee for all patients, especially at births. Even in places like the NICU, or the bariatric unit, respiratory therapists were present to monitor breathing and even encourage breathing exercises following surgical procedures to avoid fluid collection in the lungs leading to pneumonia.

Overall, my time at St. Vincent Carmel so far has only showed me how not only is there so much more to the medical and healthcare fields than meets the eye, but also that healthcare is truly one big connected network, where many people in different health professionals all come together for the common goal of serving people through healthcare.

Regardless of the fact that shadowing does not resemble one of my favorite shows, shadowing is an incredible useful experience, as you can gain some insight into your future profession! Remember, we are future health professionals here, so it is important for HOSA members to go the extra mile in order to prepare ourselves best for our futures in healthcare!

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