Shadowing a DoctorOctober 3, 2014
Clinical experience is a step up from physician shadowing and takes up where shadowing leaves off. While shadowing a physician, you will essentially be an onlooker simply watching what the doctor does and what exactly the job involves. Though it does give you a realistic behind-the-scenes picture of what a career in medicine is really like, it still does not give you the real ‘feeling’ of what it is like to interact with a patient directly. Unfortunately, because of massive legal implications, very few hospitals in the UK will allow pre-med students to actually assist or interact with patients. For anyone looking for clinical experience, the best alternative is to register with a reputed organisation that organises pre-med clinical placements to developing countries.
Gap Medics offers pre-med placements in Tanzania, Croatia, Poland and Thailand. All of these opportunities give you the chance to spend a few weeks shadowing health professionals as they perform their daily routines in the wards and operating theatres. In addition to shadowing medical professionals, you will also get the opportunity to interact with patients. One of the most significant aspects of these types of clinical placements in developing countries is that you get to experience another side of medicine altogether, which will help you draw comparisons between healthcare abroad and at home. There’s no sophisticated equipment or fancy waiting rooms like you can expect to see here in the UK. Procedures are carried out with the most basic supplies and the lives of patients depend not on machines but on the skill of the practitioner. An experience like this can be an eye-opener to the true face of medicine. For pre-med students this can be a life-changing experience that can either strengthen your resolve to become a doctor or help you realise that perhaps you need to re-think your choices.
From the medical admissions point of view, if you’ve been through a clinical placement and are still keen on going ahead with your application into medical school, it is a sign that you are really and truly committed to this field. A clinical placement experience gives you a competitive edge like no other experience can.
Do academic scores matter at all?
Well, yes they do. In the rush to volunteer, shadow a physician or go on a medical placement, don’t forget your academic scores. They are the tangible element on your medical school application and they do matter. Your grades are the first thing that admissions authorities will look at and they will only consider your application if you have scored above their expected minimum. The medical school curriculum is extensive and exhaustive. Medical schools want to know whether or not you will be able to cope without feeling overwhelmed and dropping out of school midway. Your grades tell the school a lot about your ability to cope, keep up and thrive in a highly competitive environment.