Students may participate in the Physician Observership program at Inova hospitals, sponsored by the individual departments. Observerships may be requested by Undergraduate university students, high school students and laypersons who have not yet earned a medical degree.

Please read and follow these steps to secure an observership.

  1. Choose a physician whom you wish to shadow. If you don't yet have a physician to serve as your preceptor, search the Inova physician directory for names of physicians in the specialty area that interests you. You must contact the physician's office directly to ask him or her to serve as your preceptor. We cannot place students with a preceptor.
  2. Once you have a physician to shadow, ask the physician to contact their Department Chairman to proceed with the observership approval process. Students please do not contact the Department Chairman’s office directly. Only your preceptor can request that observership arrangements be finalized.

Length of Observerships

Inova observerships are available for a maximum of two days, or 16 hours, per quarter. The observership can be broken out (four 4-hour days, for example), but cannot exceed 16 hours per quarter. No overnight on-call sessions are allowed.

If you are interested in spending more time with your preceptor, we recommend you find a physician in private practice so that you can shadow him or her in the office. However, the 16-hour time limit is in effect if the physician brings you into an Inova hospital.

If you are interested in a second observership with a different doctor, you may make those arrangements with the physician. However, the observation with the second physician will need to be at a different Inova hospital than your first. Observers may not spend more than two days total in any three-month period at a single Inova hospital.