What Exactly Is Shadowing In The Medical Profession?
Shadow Health is a revolutionary learning software developer of interactive learning environments, often termed Digital ClinicsTM. It was created by a renowned medical, academic, Dr. David Katz, to provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to train their own medical students, in addition to being able to record and playback the learning experience of their students to ensure that they are not forgetting key concepts or information during the training process. As well as this technology being used in digital clinics, it is also used in other teaching tool applications such as educational documentaries, online, educational games, online residencies and more. It has attracted many doctors to its use.
Dr. Katz went into medicine, has completed a doctorate in public health, before creating this system with the ambition of helping medical students to gain essential knowledge and skills that would help them become more effective leaders in the field. His aim was to create a comprehensive, easy-to-use system that would help medical students learn not only the core concepts of public health and medical research, but also the historical knowledge, practical application and management skills they would need to conduct future research and practice. He believed that a shadow environment provided the perfect opportunity to conduct these activities, especially in the face of tight deadlines and little or no time for study abroad. He also believed that these circumstances required doctors to be highly motivated and focused on learning, rather than bored, stressed out students who were doing all the work.
As soon as he began development on his system, he knew that he had struck upon something truly innovative and would prove to be one of the most important learning resources he ever developed. As well as providing an opportunity to participate in a hands-on clinical training programme, shadowing students provided an unparalleled opportunity for students to acquire knowledge through active participation. Although this experience was extremely valuable for Dr. Katz, it was not enough. He wanted to create a system that would not just benefit students but would also benefit the medical profession.
To do this, Dr. Katz and his shadowing team devised several methods of ensuring the best and most reliable input and feedback. First, the best method of creating a useful shadow environment was to make sure there was a reliable, qualified, and competent source of support. By relying on their own clinical experience, the team ensured that the shadowing nurses were fully qualified to offer medical advice and would have been familiar with the practical side of shadowing. Next, they relied on the shadowing nurses’ own experiences in the practice to provide useful feedback. In turn, the nursing team were able to provide a useful insight into how the student nurses conducted themselves in the real world clinical environment. Finally, the students provided their own feedback by using the practice’s existing structure and processes.
The creation of this unique clinical and practical learning resource utilised a unique system of training and support for the shadowing team. A series of shadowing sessions were organised and facilitated, giving the students the chance to gain clinical expertise and experience from an expert clinical and motivational viewpoint. In addition, the shadowing nurse was given the opportunity to shadow the doctors and use this as a valuable developmental time when reviewing the student’s performance and developing coaching and mentoring strategies. Ultimately, the shadowing nurses developed leadership skills and improved their overall relationship, while gaining practical knowledge about the organisation.
As well as providing valuable clinical leadership and practice experience, the shadowing programme also created valuable networking opportunities for students and created partnerships within the community. For the students themselves, it offered a means of gaining experience of shadowing in a specialist clinical setting. By participating in the shadowing programme, they gained immediate shadowing experience from a senior level nurse and this made them eligible for a role as a clinical leader later in their career. The shadowing programme not only increased students’ clinical leadership skills but also increased their awareness of the needs of the communities in which they worked. This made them able to develop and implement solutions in line with their community and improve the quality of health care provision in their area.
For the healthcare professional organisations, such as nursing services, hospitals, clinics and other integrated organisations, the value of shadowing practices cannot be understated. Clinical leadership is the backbone of any healthcare organisation, and by supporting and promoting junior doctors through shadowing, it enables the organisation to receive increased premiums and retain high quality staff. It also allows those who previously would have been disengaged from their work to get back into training and participate more actively in their work. All of which helps to increase the level of service that organisations can provide to their clients, as well as improve their staff retention and productivity.
It is clear that shadowing practices in the professional healthcare sector is a critical part of professional development for both doctors and other professionals involved in this sector. This form of teaching and learning to create not only skilled and knowledgeable leaders, but also demonstrates the value that health professionals place in engaging and developing others. As the UK’s Health Services Agency explains, shadowing can help build a “positive picture of how the NHS is using its human resources” and by ensuring that other health professionals “get an insight into how to best care for patients”. Ultimately, shadowing in the medical profession offers many benefits for both patients and other professionals. In short, the practice of shadowing in healthcare should be seen as a crucial piece in the development of medical leaders.