Shadowing a Doctor:
Is Clinical Shadowing Your Next Step?

Clinical Shadowing for undergraduate students: shadowing doctors in surgery

Owen, 2022 Fellow in Milan, shadowing surgeons in the OR

Educating the next generation of healthcare professionals will require more than simply lecturing to them in classrooms and depositing them into laboratories with a to-do list.


Shadowing a doctor or a nurse is an essential experience for those considering a career in healthcare, providing a practical and immersive understanding of the profession. 

From the Greek klinikē: ‘bedside’.

Clinical shadowing refers to shadowing a doctor while seeing patients or performing surgeries.


The term “clinical” typically refers to the role and physical position of healthcare professionals attending to the needs of sick individuals.


Their position is typically at the bedside, while their posture should be engaged and attentive, with a bend towards the patient in order to provide close care.

International shadowing is invaluable for aspiring healthcare professionals, exposing them to diverse systems, practices, and cultures, broadening their perspectives, and fostering adaptability. It enhances cultural competency and ultimately enriches their careers and the healthcare industry.

student in healthcare shadowing doctors at Italian hospital

Augustus Storm, fellow 2022

2022 Fellows shadowing surgeons in the OR

First, do no harm. It is important to ensure that this practice is conducted in an ethical manner that respects the privacy and autonomy of patients, wherever you are in the world.

Nthabeleng MacDonald, fellow 2022

Learning how to apply stitches with the head of surgery in Rome

Emory University students learning about the Italian healthcare system

In addition to the student-mentor relationships built throughout the experience of shadowing a doctor, the Fellowship provides students with interpreting tools for their observation.

Through an ad-hoc course led by expert faculty, you will gain insight into your individual, unique psychometric profile and intercultural competence – a valuable outcome for navigating your professional progress, networks, and personal growth in the future.


A day as a Fellow

Curious to learn how the Doctors in Italy Fellowship is structured? See what you should expect based on the experience of previous fellows.

your questions about the doctors in italy fellowship

The purpose of your experience is to observe, learn, and grow as a person and future professional.

You will be in the middle of the action – right next to the doctor you are shadowing – as an observer.

The program is fully compliant with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) guidelines for undergraduate shadowing. 

You will be shadowing for four days a week, with approximately five hours of shadowing per day, for a total of about 20 hours of shadowing per week.

You don’t need to know Italian because everyone in the program and most doctors speak English.

Yes and no. The Doctors in Italy Fellowship includes a variety of experiences, specifically designed for students on a path toward a career in healthcare. The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students.


Some programs are structured for a specific professional field, such as the program for aspiring veterinarians.


Other programs are focused on more than one role in healthcare and provide learning experiences to future doctors, nurses, physician assistants, public health specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, allied health professionals, and more.

Some versions of the program include a course and grant credit offered by Arcadia University after completing the course. Shorter programs can obtain credit through the student’s home university, if applicable. If you wish to require credit make sure to mention it in your application and interview, so that you can be advised on how to obtain it.

No, there are winter programs in most locations, and custom versions of the program throughout the year. You can apply and discuss your specific needs with the admissions team.

What to wear to make the best impression while shadowing a doctor? See our visual guide for dressing appropriately when shadowing a doctor.

A group of shadowing students showing a perfect attire

A group of fellows in Rome looking sharp on their first day of shadowing

A fellow geared up to shadow a doctor in radiology

By paying close attention to safety signs, following instructions from staff members, and being mindful of potential hazards in the environment you’re doing your part to stay safe and healthy. The orientation sessions pre-departure and on-site will help you do your part.


Featured Clinical Programs

Check out the programs that best fit your academic and career goals of shadowing a doctor. Where do you see yourself thriving?

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Milan, Italy

Human Health Program

2 to 4 weeks

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Florence, Italy

Human Health Program

2 to 5 weeks

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Ferrara, Italy

Human Health Program

2 to 5 weeks