Shadowing a Doctor

February 5, 2014

Unlike a few years ago, when it was the exception rather than the norm, today more and more students across all streams are choosing to take a gap year before applying to university or to any professional college.

With gap years becoming increasingly more commonplace, several questions arise. What exactly is a gap year? Is it a good idea to take a gap year? What exactly can you do during that time and how does it help?  This article aims to answer these questions that often arise in discussions relating to gap years.

Pre-medical students on placement at Iringa Regional Hospital What exactly is a Gap Year? 

A gap year is exactly what it sounds like- it is a year spent taking time off between different life phases. Typically, most students choose to take a gap year after graduating from high school and before attending college. An increasingly popular option amongst med students, it provides time for volunteering, getting some clinical experience through gap placements abroad, travelling, learning a new language, or indulging in any number of other activities for personal growth.

Why Take a Gap Year & What Can You Do?

While there are several equally compelling reasons to take a gap year, one of the most common is the opportunity for students to explore their interests and develop a purpose for their future. A gap year helps students take a break from intense academic coursework and focus on enriching life experiences. Whether they choose to spend the year travelling, working, volunteering, or all three, students who have completed a gap year often return to the academic world more focused, motivated and ready to take on even the most rigorous course.

For students who are keen on pursuing a career in medicine, a gap year gives them the opportunity to gain some much needed clinical experience. Pre-med students may choose to spend time during their gap year volunteering or shadowing a physician at a local hospital or working in a hospital in a third world country. These clinical experiences helps pre-med students get a close up look at what life as a physician really is like so they can make an educated choice about whether or not this is a good career fit for them.

Another huge advantage in participating in such activities during the gap year is that medical schools prefer to accept students who have spent some amount of time in a health care setting as it shows that they are truly committed to following this career path.

A few thoughts on doing a medical placement during your gap year

Gap Medics organises medical placements for pre-med students in Tanzania, Thailand and the Czech Republic. All these placements provide you with valuable clinical experience as you care for and treat patients in a hospital alongside professional practitioners. All travel, accommodation and work experience arrangements are taken care of by Gap Medics. No healthcare setting in the UK will offer you such an enriching, hands-on experience.