Observational Placements

Observational Placements

Observational placements allow you to spend time with a GP so that you can learn about the role and work of an NHS GP in todays’ rapidly changing health service. They are offered to doctors on the programmes following the career and educational interview at the very start of the process to help inform their decisions about participating in a programme placement. The information below is designed to answer some of the questions you may have about this aspect of the programme.

What is a practice observational placement?

These GP programmes recognise the importance of providing a supportive and encouraging approach to qualified GPs who decide to enter a pre-employment programme in GP

These observational placements give applicants the opportunity to spend time in an NHS general practice to observe the core elements of the day to day workings of the practice. This is particularly important given the delivery of primary care services has changed significantly in recent years. The placement is designed to be a supportive and informative process and is not used to make selection decisions about you. Instead these placements are about giving you the opportunity to see first-hand what you can expect from your workplace, the current role of an NHS GP and to reflect on potential learning needs in a future placement.

What support is provided

  • Up to one-month observational placement (full time = 37.5 hours) or equivalent if part time
  • Supervisors support payment at £500 per week (or pro-rata i.e. max £2000)
  • No bursary payment but support for travel and reasonable (agreed) expenses
  • Applies to all schemes but duration is based on need of individual GP up to a maximin of four full time weeks
  • Placement is flexible, can be up to 4 full weeks, part time or split across 2, 3 or 4 periods
  • They will however be able to apply for the various grants to support applications to GMC & MPL
  • Need to pass the LNA or Streamlined application
  • Get access to on-line learning etc


Why would I be offered an observation placement?

There is good evidence that job previews increase the confidence of individuals deciding to apply to the schemes. In cases where an individual is less certain about the decision to enter NHS GP, it provides a ‘space’ to think realistically about their decision before proceeding through one of the assessment processes.

What does the observation placement consist of?

The observation placement consists of a placement of up to four weeks based within a NHS practice although the schedule for the days may vary from practice to practice. The placement provides opportunities to:

  • Observe consultations
  • Learn more about the way information technology is used to support consultations
  • Discuss the current GP contract and its influence on the GP’s role
  • Sit in on practice meetings
  • Meet and spend time with administrative staff and the practice manager


At the end of it, you will have an opportunity to discuss your observations and reflections with the supervisor. This discussion is not used to make or contribute to a selection decision, but instead to highlight areas that you may wish to discuss with the HEE educational lead before proceeding with a formal application. It will also allow the HEE lead to tailor their discussions with you to reflect your individual needs.

Supporting information

Before starting your placement, you will be asked to sign an agreement. You can view a copy of this here. There’s also more information about observational placements in this document.

Host GPs receive a small payment of £500 to support the cost of their time (up to a maximin of £2000 for four weeks). For invoice template click here.

Please note: The decision about the choice of practice for your placement will rest with your Health Education England (HEE) local educational lead. The practice observation placement is not intended to ‘match’ you with a potential placement.