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What is shadowing?

  • We suggest a minimum of 50 hours of shadowing. 70-80 hours will provide what most schools view to be a very solid exposure and understanding. Top applicants typically have 100 hours or more of shadowing.

  • The best way to find shadowing opportunities is with Physician Assistants you or your family already know, or have a connection to.

    1) PAs that have provided care to you or your family members.
    2) Is there a physician assistant in your ward or stake? Asking ‘Brother’ or ‘Sister’ Smith about shadowing is likely to be easier and more effective than contacting ‘Ashley Smith, PA-C.'
    3) Do you have extended family members in Utah County or Salt Lake? Ask for contact info for physician assistants they know. Physician assistants are more likely to say yes to the relative of a patient, than another ‘random BYU pre-PA student,'
    4) Ask local ward/stake leadership. There may be a PA in the leadership of your YSA or married student ward (Bishopric, stake presidency, stake high council). If not, it is very likely that some
    of them may know a physician assistant in their home ward or stake. Use those church connections!
    5) If you can avoid it, do not shadow PAs that are relatives. However, they can certainly facilitate shadowing opportunities with other physician assistants.
    6) Expand your ask to see if individuals you know have any connections to physicians. While you are primarily looking to shadow PAs, often physicians work with PAs and they may be able to connect you to physician assistants in their clinic.
    7) Contact your local, regional, or state PA chapters.

  • When possible, show up in person to the clinic to ask about shadowing opportunities. Here are suggestions to navigate asking for PA shadowing opportunities.

    “Hello, my name is _______ and I am a pre-PA student at Brigham Young University. I am very excited about my goal to become a PA and am very passionate about the profession. I noticed on your website that _______ works here and I saw that he/she is a PA. I was hoping I could talk to he/she and see if I could set up a shadowing opportunity or at least introduce myself and get to know he/she more.”

  • Find a clinical job opportunity where PAs work.

    • If you can find a job that employs PAs, it may be easier to schedule a time with them where you can shadow them, as you will create a positive relationship with them over time. They may also be great resources to refer you to other PAs in different specialties to shadow.


    • Find ways to volunteer in a health care setting that you can find physician assistants. Examples of volunteer opportunities could be hospitals, pro bono clinics, etc. Throughout your volunteer work, you may connect with a PA and be able to ask for a shadowing experience with the provider.

    Be persistent! It may take many emails, phone calls, and networking opportunities to get one “yes”. Don’t be discouraged! Each email, phone call, and network opportunity could lead to a yes, so do not give up!

  • You may also want to consider reaching out to various medical facilities to seek shadowing experiences. Many facilities may require you complete an application prior to shadowing. You may need to complete a background check and or/drug screen. Your immunizations and flu shot will need to be up-to-date. You will likely be required to sign a HIPAA form indicating that you understand and will respect patient privacy and confidentiality.

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    The South Central/Utah area includes Utah Valley Hospital, Orem Community Hospital, and American Fork Hospital.South/Central Utah requires that the student first acquire approval from a specific Physician Assistant. Once that Physician Assistant approval is obtained, then contact Tiffany Clawson at 801-357-3437 or Contact information for shadowing with Intermountain Healthcare not in this specific area can be found in the following link:

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    Note from Revere: “The majority of physicians and advanced practitioners prefer to manage their scheduling calendars through their office managers. Additionally, we are only able to offer shadowing experiences in a clinical setting: to shadow surgeries/procedures the student will need to contact the hospital/facility where the surgery of procedure is to be performed. Students must be 18 years of age and older to shadow.”
    To complete an application and HIPAA confidentiality form, you will need to visit the site in person.

    Revere Health-Provo Campus
    South Entrance of Bldg B
    1050 North 500 WestProvo, UT
    M-F: 9:00am-4:00pm

    Revere Health-American Fork Campus
    Main Entrance
    1175 East 50 South
    American Fork, UT
    M-F: 9:00am-4:00pm

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    U of U health offers student shadowing experiences in primary & urgent care and allows a maximum of 8 hours per student per year. If there is an interest in participating in the student shadowing program visit the sign up page which is located in the following link:

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    Must complete required observer documentation. The following link contains information in regards to observer policy and observer required documentation coordinator-Laura

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    Student Placement coordinator: Lindsey Ward
    Lindsey is currently out for an extended period of time, so in order to get information in regards to shadowing during the current circumstances, contact:Katie DautelKatie.Dautel@imail.orgFor more information visit:

    Home Town
    There are more than 50,000 college students in the Orem/Provo area, many of whom are seeking shadowing in health care fields. You are encouraged to seek shadowing opportunities in your home town as 1) this may be better for your schedule as you can use summer time, class
    breaks, etc. and 2) there are likely fewer students seeking opportunities.

    BYU Connect/LinkedIn
    You can use these networks to connect with physician assistants--some of whom are open to shadowing. BYU Connect BYU LinkedIn Network BYU LinkedIn Alumni Page

  • Now that you’ve arranged your shadowing experience, here are a few points to consider:

    A) You need to be flexible with your schedule. Make your schedule accommodate to what the Physician Assistant can offer, not the other way around.
    B) Dress appropriately. Professional dress, with no open-toed shoes.
    C) Ask questions. However, wait until the clinic time/rounds are completed to ask questions of the PA. Don’t ask questions in front of the patient. Again, patient privacy and confidentiality is of paramount importance.

    An important outcome of the shadowing experience is to answer the very important question: “What did I learn?” or the “So what?” It is strongly recommended that you beginning logging (i.e. journal, word document, excel document) your experiences and reflections. This will assist you in keeping track of your shadowing details (hours and insights) needed to best complete your application to PA schools. Additionally, journaling is a way to not only record facts and feelings, but also is an important step in becoming a reflective clinician, which is a valuable quality. You may also want to consider showing these guidelines to the person(s) whom you are shadowing, so that you can have shared goals.

    After shadowing a PA, it is appropriate and professional to send a thank you note. It may lead to additional opportunities to shadow the physician assistant. When you apply to PA school, often it is required to have a letter of recommendation from a PA that you have worked with or shadowed. As a result, thoughtfulness and appropriate etiquette may help a provider be more inclined to write you a letter of recommendation.

  • While you play more of a passive role in a shadowing experience, there is much you can learn as you watch the providers and see how they engage with the patients and staff. When it comes time to apply to PA school, you will need to input your shadowing hours and write about the experience. As a result, it isimportant to reflect on what you learn from those experiences. Notice the characteristics and qualities you see each PA demonstrate and consider how you may work on cultivating these characteristics in qualities in your patient care and interactions with others.

    Keep a journal or document where you can record your experiences and insights. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you reflect on your shadowing experiences:

    •From my shadowing experience, what did I learn in relation to:
    •The patient’s illness
    •Other factors impacting the patient’s health
    •The PA-patient relationship
    •The importance of spending enough time
    •What I liked/disliked
    •How the clinician reasons and makes decisions
    •The patient. What did the patient teach me?
    •What it’s really like to be a physician assistant•What surprised me?

    Ultimately, schools want to know why you want to become a PA. As a result, it is important to reflect how this experience related to your “why” in wanting to become a Physician Assistant. Each PA will provide you different insights and demonstrate different qualities that will be a piece in helping you develop your “why”.