Physician associate case study: Kerry Gopinathan

May 18, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Kerry Gopinathan (third from right) came on a medicine placement to Thailand with Gap Medics in 2013 and is now four months away from qualifying as a Physician’s Assistant (PA).

“I first heard about Gap Medics when a leaflet popped through my door, shortly after applying for Medical school. I’d been concerned about my lack of experience in the medical world and was worried about whether I was making the right decision. Gap Medics allows you to get experience working in different hospitals and different aspects of medicine. Plus, I had always wanted to travel to Thailand… I decided to be spontaneous and “kill 2 birds with 1 stone”!

Off I went, on one of the longest journey’s and the first trip I had taken completely by myself (yes, I’m 28!). It was the most beautiful place! But I also met the most incredible people. People who have since gone on to do great things.

I had my placements at two hospitals, one in Paediatrics (and a bit of Obstetrics) and the other, Orthopaedics. Both hospitals were so different but they were equally welcoming of the Gap Medics’ students. I even got to see a C-section!! I wrote so many notes whilst I was there, sometimes I read back on them and reminisce. A typical day in placement involves getting up early with the other Gap Medics and travelling to the hospital. I was given a schedule which included shadowing a doctor, observing a surgery and helping out in a clinic. The more enthusiastic you are, the more you’re able to see! Needless to say by the time I got home 2 weeks later, I knew medicine was for me and it was full steam ahead.

Why I became a physician associate

Whilst studying for a postgraduate medicine exam (GAMSAT) I heard about a new role within the NHS, a Physician Associate. Physician associates (PA’s) are collaborative healthcare professionals with a generalist medical education, who work alongside doctors, GPs and surgeons. They provide medical care as an integral part of a multidisciplinary team. PAs are dependent practitioners working with a dedicated supervisor, but are able to work independently with appropriate support.

Traditional junior doctors, who are on training placements, will often rotate every 4-6 months whereas PA’s are appointed for longer periods of time, providing continuity for not only the medical and nursing teams, but also the patients themselves. This role was perfect for me because it allowed me to practice medicine quicker, albeit with an intense 2 years of training. Gap Medics helped give me the experience I needed to get through the interview process and also gave me a great foundation for the training.

I’m in my final year of Physician Associate studies and qualify in 4 months! I’m hoping to go on to work in A&E and I wouldn’t be where I am today without my Gap Medics experience.”

Fancy following in Kerry’s footsteps? We have fantastic physician associate placements available to anyone interested in finding out more about the role. On placement you can find out if physician associate is the job for you, whilst gaining invaluable experience that will strengthen any application to medical school.



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.