While it has been difficult to find opportunities for work experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work or volunteering experience is still crucial when applying to Medicine. It proves to the medical school that you have investigated what it is like to pursue medicine and learned about the skills needed to be a doctor. This is why it is really important to seek out opportunities before you apply, whether they are virtual or in person. To help in this difficult situation, we have compiled a list of links and ideas of how to get some more relevant work experience. However, before choosing a placement or programme, there are a few key elements you should consider about your work experience in order to make the most out of your time.
work experience faq
Where will I write about my work experience?
You must write about your work experience in your Personal Statement. Universities are particularly interested in what you have learnt from your placements, so reflection is important. You may also make reference to your work experience in your interviews.
Is it better to have lots of short term placements or a few long term placements?
Both are fine but universities are more focussed on what you’ve learned from your experience(s) rather than how much you have done. It is a great idea to do some clinical work experience as well as some non-clinical work experience. If you are volunteering for a charity or organisation, continuing to do so for a longer period can demonstrate commitment and dedication.
Do I have to have a certificate or reference?
It is great to have a certificate as proof of achievement or even just a short note from your supervisor. However, this is not essential and universities rarely ask for such proof. With this said, do not lie about work experience — it is obvious if you have done this during interviews and the admissions team will not be impressed!
Do I have to have hospital work experience?
Hospital work experience is very useful but it can be hard to get, especially now. Consequently, many medical schools have relaxed their requirements. Therefore, as long as you provide enough examples of other forms of work experience or volunteering, the university will make allowances for the absence of hospital placements. It is also important to remember that virtual work experience does not replace in person placements but it does demonstrate that you have spent time trying to acquire new skills and knowledge.
It is important to remember that everyone is in the same boat and most students have struggled in finding work experience throughout the pandemic. However, by completing even just a short placement or course, you are demonstrating a genuine interest in the world of medicine.
We have complied a list of work experience avenues below. The following links have been categorised into three sections: virtual work experience, in-person work experience and volunteering. We recommend that you follow these links in order to find a programme that is best suited to you and your needs.
After completing any work experience, reflection is vital. Spend some time reflecting on what you have learnt and how this has helped you gain insight into the world of medicine. We hope the links and ideas were helpful; good luck with your work experience journey!
VIRTUAL WORK EXPERIENCE
Register For Live NHS Healthcare Careers Virtual Work Experience
This is a series of online events that follow the journey of a patient through the NHS. You can observe the interactions between healthcare professionals and patients as well as gaining knowledge of multidisciplinary teams. This is particularly helpful to show an understanding of the many different roles in the NHS.
Observe GP - Interactive video platform | RCGP
This is an interactive video platform created by RCGP. The videos explain the roles of various members of the primary care team and the platform takes between two to two and a half hours to complete. There is no certificate of completion but the reflection is still extremely valuable.
Free BSMS Virtual Work Experience
This course has been designed by Brighton and Sussex Medical School as an introduction to the NHS as well as the roles and challenges of different medical specialists. It takes seven to nine hours to complete and you will be awarded a certificate of completion at the end.
In-person work experience
One idea to gain in-person work experience is to call your local GP surgery. You can ask if there are any placements available or if they know about any possible volunteering roles in a clinical setting.
Another idea is to apply for hospital work experience. There is normally a waiting list so it is a good idea to put your application in now at your local hospital; ready for when things get back to normal.
The Young Doctor Summer Internship
This internship provides a number of exclusive opportunities to explore the life of a doctor. It takes place in London but can also be done online and there are many different packages to choose from. However, this is an expensive option so unfortunately may not be accessible to everyone.
Age UK telephone befriending
This is a great way to volunteer and make a difference in your local community. You can sign up to be a telephone befriender where you make calls to older people who are at risk of social isolation. There are also many more volunteering options available on the Age UK page.
The Royal Voluntary Service
The Royal Voluntary Service offers many volunteering roles within the NHS and your local community. It is worth looking on the website to try and find which role suits you best! It is important to note that some of these roles are only available to those over 18.
Finally, you might like to talk to your local care home about volunteering. You may not be able to volunteer in person but they may need help with something similar to telephone befriending.
About the Author
Abhisri Chadalavada is currently a year 11 student and aspiring medic. She is looking forward to studying Biology, Chemistry and English Literature next year for her A-levels. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and is part of the local rowing club. She has recently volunteered at a GP surgery during the COVID-19 vaccination scheme helping to direct and look after patients. She is passionate about medicine and would like to help other aspiring medics along their journey.