As the most junior member in the depressive, towering hierarchy of medicine, a medical student spends quite a lot of time following a doctor in the hospital. That's what I do quite often for the past few weeks while waiting for my research to kick start some time in the near future.
Some people feel that the term "following a doctor" doesn't sound quite professional. In fact it sounds rather oppressed, some would say. You know, it paints the stark picture of a docile junior obeying the seniors' command, being prepared to stomach any potential bad treatments, feeling stupid etc. So to cheer things up a bit, we don't say we "follow a doctor" anymore; "shadowing a doctor" is the jargon we use to glorify the routine.
It's funny how fancy words are enjoyed by the medical people. In the dictionary, the closest meaning of shadow to this word usage is:
verb - follow, usually without the person's knowledge; "The police are shadowing her"Not quite close in meaning, isn't it?
For me though, "shadowing a doctor" conjures an image of a ghost. You know how there are stories about how one's shadow could leave the owner's feet and wander about, and how some unknown creatures only present as a shadow on the floor? Yeah that was it.
How in the world "shadowing a doctor" sounds more professional than "following a doctor", I have no idea. But since everyone uses this term, I would just follow anyway.
Image credit: MSNBC - Viewers feel Dr. House's Pain