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Observers is a term applied to physicians who have completed medical school but are not licensed to practice in the District of Columbia nor a trainee in any US or Canadian approved residency program. Such individuals usually are graduates of foreign medical schools who desire exposure to hospital practice in the United States.

The Office of Medical Education neither oversees nor sanctions such positions, because they are outside the normal US medical school or postgraduate training programs. Individuals who desire an observership experience should contact the head of the clinical division in which they are interested, and that individual can make a determination as to whether they would allow an observer to join them. If accepted, observers register through the Children's National Volunteer Services Office and are subject to all the rules and regulations binding volunteers at our institution.

Observers may only observe regular hospital care; they may not physically examine patients, write in charts, or discuss management with patients.