My Gap Year Review, Travel Plans And HCA Work

Hello everyone,

As some of you may know, I am no longer a permanent staff at the hospital and my job as a healthcare assistant has temporarily come to an end. I just wanted to talk a bit more about my gap year or should I say gap years as I did in fact end up taking two years out. If anyone is wondering why I did that, then I would suggest you read this post which explains everything. The two years have gone by really quickly and I have a whole lot to talk about but to make things easier, I thought I would split all this information into two parts.

What I did during my gap year (s):

After I finished my A Levels in June 2013, I planned to take just one year out but I had no idea what I was going to do during my gap year. That was the first mistake I made. I didn't have a plan and I ended up not doing much for the first couple of months. I wanted to get a job in a healthcare environment like a hospital or a care home but I thought I wouldn't be able to get one since I wasn't 18 yet. 

At this time, I was preparing to reapply for medicine so I wanted to do something extra to add onto my personal statement to make my application a little bit stronger. In September 2013, I applied to be a volunteer at one of my local charity shops. I only worked there once a week (every Friday) for three hours (9am-12pm)  but I enjoyed my time there. The staff were really nice and I loved talking to the customers. After a few months, I started looking to get a paid job and I looked at under 18 jobs in care/nursing homes. 

In March 2014, I finally got a job as a general assistant in a local care home. It was my first real job and I was a bank staff- meaning I could choose my hours so it was very flexible. I worked in the domestic, kitchen and laundry departments and so there were quite a variety of things I had to learn. The hourly pay was good but because I was only a bank staff, the number of hours I could secure monthly were limited. The first couple of months were fine and I got used to the whole routine but later on, I realised I wasn't really enjoying what I was doing anymore. My favourite part of the job was when I was working with the domestic staff as I was able to talk to the residents as I cleaned their rooms but staying in the laundry room or kitchen for 6-7 hours was really getting to me. So as soon as I turned 18 in May 2014, I started applying for jobs in hospitals as a health care assistant.

I guess I was rather fortunate because by July 2014, I had already had two HCA interviews and I was offered both for the cardiac ward and the Acute Medical Unit. In the end, I went for the cardiac ward and I haven't regretted it. I started work in September 2014 and I only just temporarily stopped last week. I have learned so much working in the hospital over the past year and I can't want to go back during the holidays. If you would want to see my typical day as a healthcare assistant, be sure to check out this post.

In terms of travelling, I had planned to go back to Cameroon and visit my friends and family but when the time came, I realised I didn't have enough to do that which was another mistake I made. I am not too worried about this though because I know I will hopefully get the chance to travel in the future.

Advice I would give to anyone thinking about taking a gap year.
Here's a few pieces of advice I think might help some of you thinking about taking a gap year. Remember, these are only based on MY experiences.  You can do whatever you like on your gap year.

  • Have a plan:
You don't have to have every single detail planned out but at least, you could try to have an idea of what you are going to be doing during those twelve long months. A year seems like a long time but trust me, it goes by really quickly. 
  • Do your research:
Don't do what I did. I was so laid back at the beginning and had no idea what I was getting into. If you want to do some travelling or volunteering or you want to find a job, make sure you find out information about these. There are lots of opportunities out there but you won't find out about it if you don't do your research.
  • Budget:
This is a very important factor to consider especially if you want to travel. You will need to make a budget or find a way to get some money which leads us to the next point.
  • Get a job early:
The earlier you start applying for jobs, the earlier you will start working and the more money you will make. Even if it's just working for a few months to get money to go travelling or saving up money for university, starting earlier will always help. You could start by doing a simple search for a particular job in your local area or you can go to websites such as, or the NHS Jobs websitr if you are looking for a job with the NHS.
  • Ask questions:
This one is for those aspiring to be healthcare proffessionals. If you are fortunate to get a job in a hospital, you should try to make the most of your time there. You will be able to gain lots of skills such as teamwork, time management, effective communication skills and many more.
Make sure to ask questions for example if you see a word on the handover sheet that you don't understand (NSTEMI, MISC, Oedema, FC, DW, etc), always ask. You learn more when you ask questions.

For aspiring medics, remember that doctors are also human beings. Don't be scared to make friends with them. Even though they are "higher up", some of them are very nice and wouldn't mind answering questions if you have any.

Sorry that this turned out to be a very long post. Hope it was helpful to someone at least. If you have any more questions for me about my gap year, my job, university or anything at all, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.
Thanks ever so much for reading.


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