General practice based work experience placements are a great chance to see how a vital part of the healthcare system operates.
However, these placements can be daunting and students often do not make the most of them. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most of your GP work experience.
Firstly, it is important to talk to the GP surgery manager and doctors about what you are allowed to do and see at the surgery.
Some GP surgeries are apprehensive about Sixth Formers sitting in on GP consultations, whereas other will be more than happy to (obviously with the consent of the patient). Alternatively, if you are lucky, you may be able to talk to patients about their experiences whilst they are waiting to see the GP – something you could even suggest.
If you are unable to see patients, it is not the end of the world, you can still gain a lot from seeing how the GP surgery works.
Talk to the doctors and staff about working at a GP surgery and see if they have any interesting ethical or legal stories that you could discuss in your personal statements (anonymised obviously). Sit with the receptionists, as they are often the very first people to see the patients, and have other tasks such as organising the prescriptions and consultations – something that is important for you to see.
Another useful thing to do is to think about the role of GPs in the NHS.
How do they fit together with other healthcare services? GPs are often described as the “Gate-Keepers of the NHS” and are vital to work out who needs further test or treatments in hospital. They also are heavily involved in the long-term care of many patients, some of whom see there GP nearly every week – individuals with chronic conditions. Keeping these things in mind during your time at a GP work experience placement will greatly inform the things you see. Think about the experience you have and how what you saw fits in with the rest of the NHS – there is certainly plenty to discuss in your personal statement.
Finally, make sure to ask as many questions as you can about what you see, what it’s like working as a GP, and how the NHS works.
GPs spend a large part of their job explaining things to patients so will be very well equipped to explain all this to you, giving you a good opportunity to understand the healthcare system in greater detail (something that definitely set candidates ahead of the pack in interviews).
So, there you have it. A quick guide of how to make the most of a GP work experience placement, even if you don’t get the chance to see patients. Best of luck everyone.