Quote from hiddencatRN
That's funny- the advice I was given was the exact opposite of that. Jump in, ask lost of questions, interact with the patients.
I will add that I do think it's good to make yourself useful, but be careful about actually providing patient care since you're not an employee that would be a liability situation. For example, in clinical I almost had a patient fall out of bed onto me when we were turning her, so even something simple as assisting with turning a patient probably wouldn't be a good idea. I ran for supplies at one point, but other than that I held back. I spoke with the patients, but not about their conditions, just general pleasantries. I do think a good rule is to ask whomever you shadow what they expect of people shadowing, then you know you are on the same page!