I’ve written this blog as a short list of protocols you must follow when working with medical professionals, especially as a pre-medical student. It’s just common sense stuff.

  1. Show up early. A wise doctor once said, “don’t be late unless you’re dead.” When people are spending their time trying to help you, you need to respect that commitment and show up early. If you plan to show up early and you get stuck in traffic, you have a buffer so you can at least be on time.
  2. Have a good attitude and work ethic. You need to be humble and ready to learn. When offered an opportunity, say, “yes.” If you decline an opportunity, it likely won’t be presented again. Medical school is about commitment. Act like you want to be a doctor and are ready to earn it. Humility will take you further than any other trait.
  3. Wear clothes that are appropriate.** You may be introduced to important people, including the dean of a college or the physician head of a department.
    • Unless otherwise specified, wear business casual.
      • Dress slacks or dress skirt, a nice shirt, tie.
      • There is no need for a suit jacket when you shadow.
    • Do NOT:
      • show cleavage.
      • show tattoos if you can avoid it.
      • wear any skirt or dress that comes above your knees.
      • wear jeans.
    •  When in doubt about the dress attire, just ask who you are shadowing what they want you to wear.
  4. Leggings aren’t pants. Not in the professional world. Wear real pants.
  5. Don’t have things in your mouth. This means no chewing gum or eating mints while working with physicians. Old school docs hate people chewing gum.
  6. Thank you. For the love of all of medicine, make sure to say thank you. After saying thank you at the end of the time you spend with someone, you need to write a thank you to them. Write a thank you note and send it to people who go out of their way to help you. If you can’t handwrite a note every time, at least write an email thanking each person who helps you on this path.
  7. Medicine is a small community.  When I call and ask favors on your behalf, like setting up a physician for you to work with, I need to know that you will be respectful and professional. Your reputation is vital to your ability to get into medical school. My reputation is valuable for continuing to have physicians willing to take my advisees. If you say you are ready for things I offer, like shadowing physicians and medical students, then follow up on the emails and connections I make for you. If you find something comes up or you have become too busy, please communicate that to me and the people I am setting up for you to work with. Emails should be returned in an appropriate time frame.
  8. Have fun! You should enjoy your time in medicine. Have fun and be excited. Ask questions. If you’re having fun, people around you will see that and make an effort to keep teaching you. There is nothing more gratifying than teaching a student who is engaged in their learning.

If you have any questions about professionalism, just ask.

**If you can not afford professional clothes, or you are unsure what to wear, then contact me privately. I will work to find a way to help you with this. Growing up in poor families can make it difficult to acquire the clothing and/or the knowledge about how to dress for becoming a physician. I grew up on hand-me-downs and shopping at Goodwill. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Just let me know, and I will find a private way to help you.

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