Shadowing involves the opportunity for you to observe someone from your target health profession doing their job. Ideally, you will also have the chance to ask them questions afterwards. This is a great way for you to begin sorting out whether a particular career path is right for you.
Unfortunately, locating shadowing opportunities can take a lot of time and effort. The most common method is that of simply asking a clinician or clinical office whether they allow shadowing. Student organizations dedicated to specific health professions may also provide some shadowing opportunities for their members. Finally, there are some official programs associated with particular health professions that have shadowing built into them. We list some of these in association with those professions in the discussion of whether shadowing is required.
While all health professions programs require evidence that you have explored the profession carefully, only some of them actually require shadowing, specifically. Those that do require it may even require a specified minimum number of hours. This is another area where consulting with advisors and researching your target programs early can help you avoid unhappy surprises later on.
Clinician-patient interactions are protected by privacy laws. Therefore, it is very likely that you will be required to undergo a brief, official training program about the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) before you are allowed to do any shadowing. If that’s the case, they will likely require a certificate attesting to the completion of that training prior to you beginning any shadowing.
A clinical environment such as a hospital, physical therapy clinic, or something similar, will probably have its own HIPAA training module. Ask an administrator in the clinic about this if you are unsure.
The University of Michigan Health System HIPAA training module.
If you are shadowing or volunteering within the UM system, follow the procedures given to you by your supervisor.
If you are trying to use this for HIPAA certification for something outside of UM, check first to make sure it will be accepted.