How To Job Shadow a Nurse

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 1, 2021

Shadowing a professional who works in a job you're interested in pursuing can be a great way to learn about the position and the field you want to enter. Job shadowing can be very valuable for aspiring nurses because it can show them what a day as a nurse might involve, which can help determine whether the career is right for them. If you're planning on pursuing a career as a nurse, you might consider shadowing a nurse on the job to gain more insight into the career.

In this article, we consider what job shadowing is and explore how to find opportunities to job shadow a nurse.

Related: Shadowing for a Job: Everything You Need To Know

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is the chance to follow a professional at their job throughout the day to observe what they do. You can shadow someone at their job once for a few hours during one workday or schedule multiple shadowing days that take place over long periods of time, such as a few weeks or a month. Because job shadowing can allow for some flexibility depending on the position you want to shadow and the company they work for, you can design your job shadowing experience according to your specific interests and needs.

Related: How To Job Shadow (With Tips for a Positive Experience)

Why should you job shadow a nurse?

There are many reasons why you might job shadow a nurse, especially if you're interested in pursuing a career as a nurse. One of the clearest benefits to job shadowing a nurse is that the process can provide a complete look at what a day as a nurse can be like, which might help you to decide whether the job is right for you.

You can also use the time you spend job shadowing to see if your skills can be useful in the position you're considering, as you can observe which skills the professional you're shadowing uses and identify any that match your own skillset. For example, if you're looking for a job where you can use your interpersonal and communication skills and notice that the nurse you're shadowing frequently engages with patients and their families, you might consider the job a good fit for your career.

Related: Learn About Being a Nurse

How to ask to job shadow a nurse

Here are some steps you can use to find an opportunity to job shadow a nurse:

1. Reach out to nurses you know

When finding a nurse to shadow, it can be helpful to ask anyone who you might already know first. This might increase your chances of finding someone to shadow, as a nurse who has a personal connection with you might be able to connect you with someone who they believe can give you the best experience possible. You might reach out to your family members or peers who work as nurses to ask about shadowing opportunities at their places of work, but you can also speak with other people you know who might have connections to nurses for recommendations.

2. Call local healthcare facilities

Another way to look for opportunities to job shadow a nurse is to reach out to healthcare facilities in your area, such as hospitals, clinics and private medical practices. Once you find a facility you think you might be interested in shadowing at, you can call the human resources department to inquire about shadowing opportunities. This can allow you to learn about all of the shadowing opportunities near you and to choose the experience that might best benefit your career.

When you call a healthcare facility to ask about shadowing, you can mention details like the profession you want to shadow, the career you want to pursue and why shadowing at a certain facility can be helpful for you.

3. Volunteer at a healthcare facility

Volunteering is an effective way to gain hands-on experience in a field and to connect with professionals in the industry who you might want to shadow. There are usually many opportunities to volunteer at hospitals, clinics and other facilities where nurses work, so you can explore the facilities that need volunteers in your area to find the experience that can be most helpful. Volunteering can also give you insight into what working in the medical field is like, which might help you in choosing a job later on.

When you volunteer at a healthcare facility, you can meet nurses in their work environment and potentially find someone to shadow in the future. To do so, you can speak with the nurses you help during your time as a volunteer and ask them to help you schedule a job shadowing experience.

4. Look for opportunities online

As the internet contains many resources and ways to connect with others, it can be very helpful to search for job shadowing opportunities online. You can look for chances to job shadow a nurse on online forums, nursing blogs and websites that list job openings and professional development opportunities for nurses. This can give you a wide array of options to choose from, as looking online can give you access to listings for job shadowing in many areas.

Another benefit to looking for job shadowing experiences online is that you can often connect with industry professionals through channels like social media that facilitate communication and allow you to ask questions about the industry, certain careers and specializations within the field.

Related: The Best Ways To Job Shadow and Network Virtually

Tips for getting the most out of your shadowing experience

Consider these tips for job shadowing:

Research before you attend

Learning about the job you plan to shadow before you attend your shadowing day can help prepare you for what you might observe. This can also help you to come up with a few questions that you can ask the professional you shadow, which might make it easier to learn the specific information you want to know. When job shadowing a nurse, you might research what nurses do each day or what specializations they can pursue.

Consider your attire

It can be important to dress appropriately when attending a job shadow to ensure that you remain comfortable throughout the day and look professional while visiting a workplace. While the attire you wear can depend on the type of job you want to shadow, it can always be beneficial to dress in a way that allows you to focus on the experiences you observe and that signals to employers that you might be a serious candidate for a job.

If you're interested in job shadowing a nurse, you might dress comfortably in clothing that can give you lots of mobility, as a nurse typically spends much of their day moving around a medical facility.

Take notes while you shadow

As job shadowing can provide you with large quantities of information, taking notes is a great way to ensure that you remember all the relevant details you learn about. You might take notes with a pad of paper and a pen, but you can also use a note-taking application on a cell phone or other mobile device.

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