“Experience is the teacher of all things” – Julius Caesar
Work experience is an important part of your application when applying to Medical School, merely being a high academic achiever is not enough anymore. Medicine combines science with humanity, having a love for one and not the other makes it a very difficult career to go into and enjoy. Due to the demanding, rigorous nature of the course, when deciding to study Medicine it is extremely important to go into it with realistic perspective of what a career in medicine entails which can only be gained through relevant experience in a healthcare setting or working with other people in a caring or service role. It is crucial that you demonstrate that you are a well rounded individual who has thoroughly thought about their reasons for wanting to be a doctor.
The Purpose of Work Experience:
- To develop and refine some of the attitudes and behaviours essential to being a doctor such as Confidence, Empathy, Compassion, Leader, Forthright, Respectful, Thorough, Inquisitive and Team Player.
- To gain a realistic understanding of Medicine and the physical, organisational and emotional demands of a medical career
- To gain experience providing care or help to other people understanding the realities of working in a caring profession
- To help you decide whether medicine is the career for you
- To demonstrate your commitment to medicine
Types of work experience:
- Clinical Work Experience
UK:There is no specific requirement of a particular type of work experience done, neither is there a specific number of hours done. However engaging in a particular form of work experience for an extended period of time shows commitment to Medicine particularly in the 2 years before your application is submitted. Any form of work experience is deemed acceptable if it reflects the purposes of work experience stated above. Clinical work experience (e.g. shadowing a GP, hospital placement) is great at demonstrating the doctor patient relationship, you can also learn about how the hospital is run and see what happens on medical wards but requires you to display maturity and professionalism.
Abroad:Clinical work experience gained overseas is great as it allows you to observe the difference between healthcare systems in different countries. However Medical schools do not generally support or encourage overseas clinical work experience. Medical schools are looking for applicants who have a sound understanding of the UK healthcare system this may be by undertaking clinical work experience or by talking to UK doctors. However, if you have elected to arrange clinical work experience abroad this should be justified in your personal statement. Gap Medics offers International Medical work experience.
There is a range of voluntary work that is available in a number of different sectors including the health service and can provide helpful work experience. Voluntary commitments to community groups (for example religious groups or other groups such as Scouts or Guides) may also provide valuable experience of taking on responsibility, dealing with people and communicating effectively. Volunteering in a care setting (Hospice; Youth Club; Disability centres; Elderly People’s Home or Care centre) is a great way to develop empathy and is a really good way to improve your communication skills which is extremely useful for medical school. Caring for the elderly is also excellent experience even though this can often be challenging, as you may need to deal with patients with dementia, hearing loss and physical disability. However, it is also extremely rewarding and an eye-opening experience.
3. Paid Work
Paid employment may provide valuable work experience, especially where it involves extensive interaction with people and team working . It can help you demonstrate some of the attitudes and behaviours needed to study medicine such as professionalism and responsibility. There are also many paid jobs that don’t require prior training or experience for you to do e.g. health care assistant, support worker or hospital porter, all of which will give you a different perspective of the healthcare system and provides an excellent experience working with patients. A job in this sector is particularly useful if you are taking a gap year or if you are going into medicine as a graduate-entry student. Again, it shows your commitment to medicine and a willingness to reach your goal. You can also work part time in many of these jobs.
Work Experience Options
- Specialist clinic
- Youth club
- Scouts/ brownies/ boys brigade/ guides etc
- Charity shops
- Care/ nursing home
- Disability centre/ special needs school
- Homeless Shelters/Soup Kitchens,
- Drug Rehab Centres,
- Mountain Rescue,
- Mental Health Day Centres,
- Meals on Wheels,
- Prison Visiting,
- Babies Clinics/Community Midwives,
- Refugee Centres,
- Blood Donation centres
- Counselling or support work
- Tutoring or Mentoring
Work experience placements in some areas of medicine are difficult to gain (especially before the age of 18) because of the nature of the work and patient privacy, but a placement in a healthcare setting or anywhere where you deal with vulnerable people may give you the chance to find out about the work of healthcare professionals and will demonstrate your interest in people. The ability to demonstrate and reflect on what you learn, about yourself and about medicine and about how effective care is delivered and received that counts, through work experience is the key thing medical schools are looking for when they assess your work experience. In your personal statement and interview focus on what you learnt not what you did.
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