Maximise your medical placement

November 6, 2015

If you’ve decided to do a medical placement with Gap Medics, you’re in for a truly amazing experience – more so if this is your first time travelling to a faraway country. Although it promises to be an exciting adventure and a fantastic learning experience by itself, there are several things you can do to make your experience even better. Consider some of the tips below.

Gap Medics students on medical placement in Warsaw, Poland

Research your destination

Gap Medics organises medical placements in Morogoro, Kilimanjaro and Iringa in East Africa, Warsaw and Pula in Central Europe and Phitsanulok in South East Asia – all of these locations have plenty to offer by way of culture and excitement. While there are local guides, you can learn a lot of interesting little things about your destination by reading up about it before you get there. 

Immerse yourself in the culture

Learn at the basics of the local language and when you finally get to the placement, immerse yourself in the local culture. Learn about traditions, eat the local foods, attend local events and spend some time getting to know the patients. Learning about other cultures is an education by itself. 

Make the first move

Time is precious at a placement. Your days will be spent shadowing qualified medical professionals and gaining valuable experience. However, there will be plenty of down time too. This is not the time to bury your nose in a novel while waiting for someone else to introduce themselves to you. Instead, make an effort to introduce yourself to the other students as well as the medical professionals you come across.  

Join in the conversation

A conversation between premed students and healthcare professionals from different parts of the world promises to be stimulating and exciting. Join in the conversation. Contribute to it and learn from it too. An exchange of ideas is always enriching. Ask questions to learn about how medicine is practiced in other countries. Keep an open mind and you are sure to learn something new. 

Take the opportunity to travel 

You’ve travelled miles away from home to your placement destination. Why not take the experience one step further and travel off the beaten path? Instead of going out to a movie, it would be so much better to spend that time doing something different – something that you would never get a chance to do back home. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Go on a safari. Spend a day bathing and riding elephants. Visit the night markets. Book tickets to a musical festival. There’s plenty to do at every destination. 

Take notes 

While doing all of the above, don’t forget your primary purpose is to get some experience in a clinical setting. So stay focused on that. You want to make the most of this opportunity for two crucial reasons – to boost your medical school application and also to help you identify a speciality that is a good fit for you. Taking plenty of notes will ensure that you remember all the details of this incredible experience.

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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.