Shadowing a Doctor

August 25, 2016

The weeks of waiting are finally over – you’ve got your GCSE results. Congratulations!

With competition for places at University being as fierce as they are, it can sometimes feel like you’ve been getting careers advice since you arrived in Year 7. Thankfully, you still have plenty of time to make all of your important career decisions – including what University to go to – but if you’re set on a career in healthcare there are things you can be doing as soon as you set foot in Sixth Form or college. That way you can be sure you have all the skills you need when the time comes to make your choices.

Get ready to study hard

Most health courses will require a certain level of education even if they don’t specify particular subjects. Medicine students, for example, will typically be expected to have very high grades (AAA or AAB) with Biology and Chemistry both taken to an advanced level. Health and social care degrees, on the other hand, may favour students who have the top grades in a health and social care BTEC or NVQ.

Whilst it is not important to have chosen specific universities to apply to yet, it might be a good idea to have a look at some of the courses offered to see what they expect prospective students to have achieved. This gives you a clear goal to work towards.

Get some work experience

Your teachers might sound like broken records when it comes to university applications, but they’re right about one thing – with so many students getting such high grades, it’s important to have something that makes you stand out from the crowd. For aspiring health professionals, you can give your application the edge by completing some medical shadowing experience in a specialism of your choice. Admissions panels won’t expect your work experience to have been hands on (after all, you’re not qualified yet!) but spending some time with a real physician shows them that you’re dedicated to your chosen career and understand all of the qualities you need to excel in the profession.

Craft a good UCAS application

Whilst you don’t need to be drafting your personal statement just yet, many schools and colleges will set up writing workshops, careers days, mock interviews and many other extra activities to help prepare their students for applying to university. It’s important to fit as many of these into your schedule as you can to give you the best possible chance of success. If your school aren’t offering the sort of support you need, you could contact a local adult education centre or Connexions office for advice. There are also plenty of online resources such as the Student Room, the Medic Portal and, of course, us!

Here are some great (and free!) downloads to get you started:


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It’s OK to change your mind!

Many people worry that making a decision at 16 will set their path for their whole lives – and that can be true if you want it to. But lots of people change their mind about their future careers – some people take a totally different degree and others work in another field for years before deciding a medical career is their end goal. Whatever way you come to medicine, you can still make a confident and well-rounded physician. Choosing the right career the first time around doesn’t make you more skilled – it simply saves you time.

The great thing about coming on a medical shadowing placement with us is that whether it becomes an integral part of your application to medical school, a chance to see if the career is right for you, or simply a fantastic personal challenge, the skills and the memories will stay with you forever!

To find out more or to apply, get in touch with our student experience team.

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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.