Shadowing Abroad as a Premed with Gap Medics

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Session 113

Shadowing Abroad as a Premed with Gap Medics

If you’re considering getting a shadowing experience abroad, then you might be able to get a ton of information from this episode.

I talk with Ricky from Gap Medics, where he serves as the North American student placement manager, helping advisors, teachers, and parents set up placement abroad for students who are interested in shadowing medical professionals.

Gap Medics operates in Africa, Asia, and Europe, giving students the opportunity to get to see another side of medicine, and better yet, the best side of medicine they possibly can. They put together shadowing internships abroad for all kinds of pre-health students (medical, nursing, dental, etc.)

Gap Medics puts together shadowing internships abroad for all kinds of pre-health students (medical, nursing, dental, etc).Click To Tweet

If you are a high school student listening to this and are trying to convince your mom and dad that shadowing abroad is safe, let them listen to this podcast, as we also cover safety topics.

This episode covers everything from costs to where to go, as well as what Gap Medics can do for you on a personal level when it comes to your application to medical school.

Things to look for in shadowing abroad programs:

Aside from these points, you can also read the Association of American Medical Colleges Guidelines for premedical experiences overseas.

Why “hands-off” shadowing?

Premeds aren’t able to perform procedures, so you only want students to ask questions and learn about what it’s like to actually be a doctor.

The physicians who work with Gap Medics:

  • Members of their partner hospitals
  • Good ratings, good medicine
  • Dedicated
  • English-speaking

[Related episode: How Should I Prepare for My First Shadowing Experience?]

Gap Medics programs are based on:

  • Locations that are friendly towards visitors
  • Those that offer a bunch of extracurricular activities for the students

Current locations of Gap Medics programs:

  • Tanzania
  • Croatia
  • Poland
  • Thailand

Age groups of students:

Above 16 years old (above 18 for some)

Ricky’s take on nontraditional students who take the program:

  • They do well in this type of program.
  • They’re dedicated.
  • They have taken the time to think about what they want to do and the things they’re passionate about.

Gap Medics also has shadowing abroad programs geared towards students who are over 18 with a more mature experience and more leeway in exploring surrounding areas without supervision.

How long do you shadow abroad with Gap Medics?

  • Placements in one-week blocks.
  • For each week, the students get to observe a different specialty department under the guidance of a different mentor.
  • The programs can run from 1 to 8 weeks, with the average being 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Most common short-term: 2-3 weeks.
  • There are year-round programs which begin every Sunday of the year.
Each week the students get to observe a different specialty department under the guidance of a different mentor.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: The Pros and Cons of Global Healthcare Experiences]

A day in the life of a student shadowing doctors abroad (in Croatia for instance):

Before students go:

  • Comprehensive pre-departure service
  • Online trip planner
  • Contact with staff over in the UK


  • Speaking to doctors about vaccinations needed and booking their flights

As they arrive at the airport:

Students are met by a member of their staff who will transport them back to their accommodation.

At the accommodation, they get their local orientations.

  • Learn about the area
  • How to navigate
  • Local ATMs and currencies
  • Culture in the hospital

An average day shadowing abroad with Gap Medics:

  • Students and doctors meet in the morning and discuss the cases.
  • Students break into the wards, shadow, and meet the patients.
  • In the afternoon, students sometimes scrub in and watch in the operating theater.
  • At the end of the day, they go back to the house.
  • On weekends, students go out and have a great time (safaris, jungle adventures, etc.)
In the afternoon, students sometimes scrub in and watch in the operating theater.Click To Tweet

The benefits of a shadowing experience abroad:

  • Exploring different culture in different areas
  • Building camaraderie with peers from around the world
  • Experiencing medicine as a global field and the disparities that exist when it comes to health care
  • Joining the major conversations going on right now about Global Health

Which students are perfect for shadowing with Gap Medics?

  • Those looking for something defining about medicine
  • Those looking for something that would push them towards their ultimate goals
  • People who are considering a change of career, such as the older students
  • High school students who are stepping into medicine for the first time
  • Those who want to explore both in the national parks and in the operating room

What Medical Schools are looking for from your experiences shadowing abroad:

  • The global health experience
  • Drawing comparisons between what you see at home vs. abroad
  • A much broader experience

Translating a Gap Medics trip into their application:

  • Naturally and organically tie those experiences to who you are and what it means to be a doctor.
  • Often, shadowing in places where people don’t have sufficient resources will inspire premed students to want to help people.

The cost of shadowing abroad with Gap Medics:

  • Flights excluded
  • One week placement in Tanzania (for example): $1,740 – $4,740 for 4 weeks

Many students do fundraising and they are happy to offer fun ideas to students in securing funds for their placements.

  • Skydiving to bungee jumping (adding fun to fundraising)
  • Sponsored activities and volunteering
  • Endless ideas (creativity is key)

[Related episode: How Much Shadowing Do I Need for Medical School?]

Safety for premed students shadowing abroad:

  • Begins at pre-departure: Telling students about their destination, what to expect, cultural differences, etc.
  • Meeting students right at the airport and transporting them back to their houses. Exclusive guest houses at all of their destinations with private security teams and enhanced security features
  • Doctors who are trusted professionals within the hospitals which they work
  • Trained program managers and overseas staff trained by their head office staff
  • Never outsourcing their operations.
  • Liaising with people from those areas who transport students to the activities
  • Wifi and houses located in areas with internet cafes
  • Overseas teams always in touch with operations and pre-departure teams
  • Updated online profiles for each student

Links and Other Resources