Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shadowing Part 2 : Tips on contacting people

As I mentioned in one of my previous entries, my shadowing advice was so long, I needed to divide it up for ease of use. This is part two, some tips on how to approach contacting people. This might be a little out of order, from how a lot of people do it, but I've never been like normal people.

Part 2 : Tips on contacting people

1) Keep track of who you've contacted, where you found their contact information, who you have to contact still, and who you've already contacted, etc

This is unlikely to come in useful at first but when one has started to contact a lot of people, you will realise how useful it is provided you started early. I have three computer files related to shadowing.

The first is a word document which includes all the people I haven't contacted yet and it includes the website I found them, their contact info, their name, practice information (if available), etc. If I find someone that I think might be good to shadow, I copy their info and put it in my Word doc so I can contact them later.

The second file is an excel sheet and I use this to keep track of who I've already tried to contact. The Excel sheet lists their last name, their specialty, their reference, method of contact, month of contact, and most recent response. This has made my life much easier as far as assuring I don't accidentally bother the same people. And to make my life even easier, I have it colour coded and sorted.

The third file is just a list of all the dates I shadowed, the person I shadowed, the specialty, and the times. I have things automatically added up and cross listed to another sheet which has specialty aptitude rankings, my feelings about the specialties, etc. (Yes, I know I am OCD, but who are you to judge?)

2) Make a CV

Some of the doctors have been requesting a CV (Curriculum Vitae). Have one ready. Ideally, you already learned to create one. If you don't know how to create one, here is a collection of links that could help you :

3) Contact people in the way that feels most comfortable for you.

Personally, I prefer contacting people by email. Not only can the doctors respond whenever they can, you know it is less likely to be screened by someone at the front desk. Of course you also run the risk of having a defunct email address or your email could be caught by spam filters or whatnot. I also think it's easier to do email at first because I can send out three emails in 10 minutes and that includes the time it takes to update my files.

4) Know what you are going to say.

I have a little email script I have already written up as an introduction. It is about two paragraphs and includes how I found their contact information, who I am (a few sentences about myself and my educational background), and if they allow students to shadow them. Sometimes I will even add a line or two about a connection I have to their specialty (for example, when I called the neurologist's office, I also disclosed that I have mild controlled epilepsy so I think highly of neurologists for saving my sanity.)

5) Have an answer for why their specialty.

I was asked by one doctor to write an essay on why family medicine before he would answer if I could shadow him. I already gave him a few sentences about why I was interested in learning more about it, but I was asked to write a longer essay.

6) If you have a medical phobia, use it to your advantage.

I had the medical phobia from hell and I'm not afraid to mention that to doctors I shadow. It isn't every day that they run across a premed who is terrified of doctors. This gives them a chance to legitimately help a student in an actual medical/psychological sense as well as an academic one.

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