In the new integrated undergraduate medical programme at the University of Manchester, fifth-year students spend several weeks shadowing the pre-registration house officer (PRHO) whose post they will take over. The concept of ‘shadowing’ emerged from a set of interviews conducted with graduates during their first PRHO job. Graduates felt that shadowing helped them to gain familiarity with the work environment; with orientation to the role of a PRHO; and with specific learning, such as disease management, on which they could then get feedback. We hypothesize that shadowing provides an opportunity for focused apprenticeship learning of the future PRHO role. Further research may clarify the specific values of shadowing and how it might lessen the stresses faced by new graduates during the transition from student to doctor.