Shadowing a DoctorJanuary 8, 2015
Here, former Gap Medics student Grant, 19, talks about his medicine placement in Iringa, Tanzania, where he shadowed doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatrics. He is now at The University of Aberdeen, studying medicine.
What is your fondest memory from your time in Iringa?
Working on the paediatrics ward and having the opportunity to visit the orphanage were indescribable experiences. It was so inspiring to see young children be so happy and positive despite living in poverty.
Can you detail a few of the most eye-opening experiences you had on your hospital placement?
When shadowing the doctor on the paediatrics ward, I met a 5-year-old child that weighed only 5 kilograms. Seeing a child in such a fragile and vulnerable state was completely eye opening.
Have you always been interested in pursuing a career in healthcare?
About three or four years ago I attended an open day and it was at this point that I realised I really needed to start thinking about what I wanted to do after school. The open day gave a lot of insight into what it would be like to be a doctor and it made me feel like it was something I really wanted to achieve. It was from this point that I really knew I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare.
What A Levels did you take?
Having studied in Scotland I completed the Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher. I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and English for my Scottish Higher and then Biology, Chemistry and Physics for my Advanced Higher.
How did you find the application process for medical school? Do you have any tips for future students?
I actually applied to medical school twice, as my first round of applications was unsuccessful. Undeniably it was a disheartening experience but there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about reapplying. The second time was easier in a sense, as I knew what they were looking for and what to expect in the interviews. Before reapplying I spent time undergoing several different placement experiences, one of them being a placement to Iringa, Tanzania with Gap Medics and this really added a lot to my application. I would say, out of the whole process the worst bit is waiting to hear whether or not you have been accepted!
I would advise any students thinking of applying for med school to really do their research before they do. Make sure you find and apply for a university that fits you as a person as well as your grades. Getting an offer is the most important step of the whole process, the interviews are essentially not that daunting if you practice and prepare enough.
How did your Gap Medics hospital placement overseas prepare you for medical school?
It was very helpful! Prior to my Gap Medics placement I had never really spent that much time in a hospital setting so the opportunity to spend two weeks there was invaluable. I was able to get a real feel for the day-to-day life of a doctor through shadowing things such as daily ward rounds. The doctors gave us a lot of in depth information about diseases, how the diseases presented and the sacrifices they had to make in their work due to budget restraints. Their problem-solving attitude under such conditions was admirable.