Q: What is shadowing?

A: Shadowing is essentially observing an individual while he/she performs their day-to-day responsibilities in order to assess if a particular industry or career is a good fit for you. Through shadowing you will hopefully get a better sense of what is required for the job as well as what the environment and people might be like. Since the health care industry is extremely diverse it is an excellent idea to shadow people in various professions, specialties and geographic locations. If you have additional interests, don’t just focus your shadowing on health care practitioners. You might also consider professionals working in health care policy, marketing, management/ administration, consulting, sales, IT, etc.

See the following link for more information:

Q: When should I shadow someone?

A: Shadowing can be done during the academic year, in your hometown over school breaks/the summer, or even when you are out of town. Health care professionals are very familiar with the concept as many had to arrange this experience themselves. You are encouraged to set up your own shadowing experience at any time and should have multiple observation experiences in a variety of health care settings to ensure that a specific career track is right for you. We are developing a guide which offers advice on how to locate professionals and how to approach them.

Q: I’ve shadowed all the dental professionals I know. Now what?

A: One method you can use is to just find dental professionals in the phonebook and call them to ask if you can shadow them. Yes, people do this. However, an easier method would be to ask the professionals you’ve already shadowed if they can recommend someone else to shadow. This is especially useful when it comes to looking for other specialists.

Q: How much shadowing do I need to do?

A: There isn’t a set amount that is required. Most importantly, it’s about quality over quantity. Having 50+ hours of shadowing means nothing if you haven’t gotten anything out of the experience. However, many dental schools want you to shadow all the specialties so don’t just shadow general dentists, orthodontists, etc.

Q: What do I wear?

A: The typical dress is business casual. Do not wear jeans. Remember that while you are shadowing you are representing the dental professional. In some cases, such as when you are shadowing in a hospital setting, the dental professional may ask that you wear scrubs.

Q: What do I need to shadow a health care professional at Duke?

A: If you are seeking a shadowing opportunity or if a Duke health care professional has already agreed to let you shadow him/her, this is what you will need to do before you get started. Keep in mind that these requirements are specific to Duke University Medical Center/Health System only. The requirements will likely differ at another site.


A list of dental professionals allowing Duke students to shadow at their clinics can be seen below:

Dental Mentors