What I Learned Shadowing Physicians: A Nursing Major’s Perspective

Hello again! This past Friday, I was required to complete a “clinical day” for my internship. I ended up being placed in internal medicine. My internship style program consists of about thirty other students, most of whom are on the pre-med track, a couple of us are nursing majors. Unfortunately, we were not given an option to shadow higher practicing nurses at all, which is an additional reason as to why I will not be returning next year (more on that later). I decided to share a few things I learned from a nursing major’s perspective.

Disclaimer: This a blog. All opinions mentioned are my opinion and do not reflect the opinion of  all healthcare systems/professionals. Over time my opinions may change my only purpose is to document that change over time. Any potential indicative patient information will be altered/deleted to comply with HIPAA. I am not responsible or liable for any comments. I encourage everyone to share their opinion.

My placement was with a Resident , but for the day everyone worked in a learning team, since my hospital is a teaching hospital and on its way to becoming Magnet. The team consisted of: 3 residents, 2 pharmacy students, 1 medical student, and the attending physician of course. I pretty much trailed behind them like a dog for the entire morning, until they let me out early because there was nothing interesting happening. However, I would like to share a few things I learned from spending a couple hours observing them.

1.All of the residents were married. 

This may seem pretty silly, but I notice small details like that. My local hospital has a medical school on campus and I have recognized more med students and residents being married or even with children. I know this is the same more many nursing students as well. Physicians are simply people as well who have their own lives.


I know that in nursing there are some crazy nurse-patient ratios and I have seen the same apply to physicians as well. I saw one physician will be in charge of fourteen maybe even seventeen patients. No matter whether one is a CNA, PCT, nurse, PT/OT, physician, whatever patient-to-healthcare professional ratios are high.

I also was very impressed with the amount of knowledge of each professional even down to the pharm and med students. They were so knowledgeable, my mind was blown at how much they have managed to store in their minds. I was explaining this to another fellow student and they said “Oh yeah, that’s why you are going into nursing”. I of course told them that nursing students and nurses got through a lot of crap (forgive the wording), just not to the extreme detail of a physician (more on this later as well).

3. Some physicians spoke about nurses as if they were dumb but others appreciated their nurses.

Not every person is gong to be mature and understanding and I definitely recognized the difference, while listening to some physicians. Sadly, not every physician or resident a nurse will work with is going to be as professional as the attending physician in the team I was shadowing.

4.A couple nurses were complaisant on the floor.

This was a mere detail concerning professionalism, but when we were on the floor completing rounds. I noticed two nurses scrolling through their phones and sharing the latest gossip. I find this extremely unprofessional, I believe if you are going to be on your phone do it in the little room at the nurses station and not on the floor.

5.What are physicians doing on the computers?

The residents I were with utilized the computer a lot to look up patient history, pathology information and piece together symptoms to discover a diagnosis. They also use this to try to contact a patient’s PCP since many things patients come in with are due to a chronic illness of sorts (diabetes, heart disease, etc).

Those are a few things I learned from shadowing last Friday. If you have shadowed anywhere let me know what you learned and your opinions!

Thanks for reading,



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