Professional Observation Experiences


Professional Observation Experiences

A Professional Observation Experience, commonly referred to as a “Shadowing Experience”, is an educational exploration where students can learn about a particular occupation or profession by observing or “shadowing” a practitioner in their professional environment. The Professional Observation Mentor is the individual the students is observing/shadowing. The Faculty Advisor, if applicable, is a faculty member at FSC who has sponsored this experience for academic credit. 

Professional observation experiences allow students to better understand their field of interest, receive mentoring, establish a professional network, and make their academic studies more relevant. Pre-Med students should also read the following information from the AAMC: Shadowing a Doctor.

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Professional Observation Guides

FSC students have the option to earn academic credit for their professional observation experiences, although not required. Either way, below you can find important information and forms to help you navigate the professional observation process.

Professional Observation Guide: For Credit

Professional Observation Guide: Not-For-Credit

Professional Observation Agreement Form

Questions? Contact the Career and Internship Coordinator,

Experiences in Lakeland

Chemistry and Biology majors interested in shadowing a healthcare provider in the Lakeland area are eligible to request a professional observation experience via the placement process. Through this process, the Career and Internship Coordinator will work to secure you an opportunity with a mentor that will provide a meaningful and worthwhile experience.

To find out more about this process click here:

Professional Observation Experiences: In Lakeland


Experiences Outside of Lakeland

Students are encourage to research and secure their own professional observation experiences. Many FSC students will participate in professional observation experiences during school breaks or over the summer. Generally, the process of researching facilities, outreaching to individuals, and securing an opportunity takes multiple weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that students begin the steps below well in advance of their intended start date.


      1. Tap Into Your Network!
           Do you (or your parents or friends) know of any facilities or professionals you can contact? If so, reach out to these individuals to see if they have any   
           interest in hosting an observer! If you need help with what to say, see item #3 below.

      2. Begin Researching Facilities & Professionals
          If you were unsuccessful securing an opportunity within your personal network, you will want to begin outreaching to other professionals.
          First, you will want to develop a system to track the places you plan to outreach to, as well as the responses you receive.  One such template available for
          students to use is here: Professional Observation Outreach Tracking Sheet
          Remember that Google is your friend! Don't be afraid to do a web search for facilities based on location, specialization, etc. Once you found a facility or
          individual that looks interesting, add them to your tracking sheet! Be sure to add multiple individuals/locations.

       3. Write a Script or Email Template
            This is what you will say or email to the individuals you wish to shadow. You will want to include the following: who you are (student, school, major), why
             you are calling/ what you want from them (i.e. the ability to shadow), when you are available, and how they can reach you.
             For emails: you may also want to include your top accomplishments, a list of relevant courses, a link to your LinkedIn, and/or attach your resume.
             Sample Script for Phone Calls
             Sample Email

        4. Start to Call and/or Email
Be prepared to reach out to MANY locations- I recommend contacting 10 places at a time (unless you get a firm "yes" from a location/individual, in which
             case it is not necessary to continue outreaching to other locations.) Most will take down your information and say they will get back to you. If you do not
             hear from the first 10 places after 1 week, you may wish to follow up with the original locations and call an additional 10 locations. Don’t get
             discouraged, this process may take time!        

Once you Secure an Opportunity

  • Complete the Professional Observation Agreement and return to the Career and Internship Coordinator,
  • Keep a journal of your experiences including start/end dates, supervisor information, average hours per week, and your reflections which should include, at a minimum: great moments, terrible moments, "ah-ha" moments, great patients/clients, difficulty patients/clients, hot topics in the field, new philosophies that you hope to embody, etc.


Direct Patient Care

Different from observation experiences in that, although you still observe healthcare providers at work, direct patient care experiences are ones in which you are directly responsible for a patient's care including prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, working on patients as an active EMT, drawing blood, taking vitals or providing personal hygiene care.  These experiences are different from professional observation experiences as, unlike shadowing, direct patient care experiences usually incorporate physical contact with a patient and therefore traditionally require a certification or on-the-job training. Additionally, many direct patient care opportunities are paid! Examples of common roles that include direct patient care include: medical scribe, patient care technician, medical assistant, physical therapy aid, EMT, Paramedic, CNA, and more!
Positions that Typically Require Certifications: 
To secure positions, students will need to search for job openings through job board such as indeedGlassdoor, LinkedIn Jobs, and hospital/clinic job boards. Many paid positions will be full-time and may be difficult to complete in conjunction with a full academic load. As direct patient care experiences tend to be paid opportunities, the Career and Internship Coordinator does not place students in these positions.