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Medical student at James Alexander Medical Practice, Hull

Work experience

If you're apply to study Medicine with us, you may be wondering what kind of work experience we are looking for – so we have prepared this guide to help.

Requirements

What experience we require

We advise applicants to have a range of experiences, either voluntary or paid, in both healthcare settings and areas that require interaction with people. Clinical work experience is not an essential criteria for applying to medicine.

Your experience will help you to demonstrate in your application and interview that you understand, and are committed to, teamwork and the social context of healthcare. It will help you to develop some of the values, attitudes and behaviours essential to being a doctor.

Work experience will also allow you to demonstrate that you have a realistic understanding of medicine, including the demands of a medical career, the importance of teamwork and the social context of healthcare.

If possible, gaining experience in a range of caring or service situations, observing or working alongside healthcare staff will be beneficial to an application.

These places could be care homes, hospices, pharmacies, community voluntary organisations, general practice surgeries and hospitals.

We also advise that you explore both the positive and negative aspects of a medical career through talking to doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Visit the Medical Schools Council website for guidance on relevant experience for applying to a UK medical school.

Keep up to date with health news

We would also encourage applicants to keep up to date with topics relevant to health and social care in the UK through local and national press, relevant podcasts, websites. Here are some suggestions

Work experience: A student's perspective

By Sarah Mahmood, Year 1 Medicine student

"My main priority whilst doing work experience was to think about whether I would be able to do this in the future and whether this is definitely the career path I want to take.

"It's vital to understand the realities of medicine, including the working hours, short-staffing problems and difficult scenarios. Personally, I only came to realise this during my work experience.

"Also, think about the qualities the doctor possesses and whether you have any of these qualities and how you have demonstrated them in the past. I learnt about the realities of medicine and the qualities the doctor possessed, for example: empathy, leadership and teamwork skills.

"An important aspect that I learnt was that each patient was different, highlighting the importance of patient-centred care, ensuring you tailor your practice to each patient's individual needs.

"Work experience alongside volunteering confirmed that Medicine was definitely the career I wanted to go into."

Sarah's experience and tips
Sarah Mahmood

Why do work experience?

Reflect on your experience

You may find it useful to record your experiences and your subsequent learning in a reflective diary.

You can download and, if you can, print the Royal College of General Practitioner’s reflective diary to reflect on any of your experiences and complete complementary activities.

The diary has been designed to be used as a guide during any ‘relevant experience’ including:

  • Primary care work experience at a GP practice
  • Secondary care work experience in a hospital setting
  • Completing the interactive video platform Observe GP
  • Voluntary work in a care home
  • Suitable paid employment
  • Informal conversations with healthcare professionals
  • Reading relevant literature or listening to relevant podcasts

You might also wish to reflect on how your experiences align to the NHS Constitution.

Where to start

How to get work experience

To get clinical work experience, you might find it useful to contact places in your area which relate to healthcare and prepare a short CV, saying that you are willing to volunteer.

Any volunteering or paid work that you undertake outside of healthcare settings will also be relevant in order to develop skills we are looking for in future doctors. Work which requires you to have interactions with members of the public is always particularly useful.

Gaining experience during the Covid-19 pandemic

We understand that current pressures on the NHS and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic may prevent you in taking part in ‘in-person’ clinical work experience. The Medical Schools Council has released guidance on gaining experience during Covid-19.

We would recommend taking part in the following online experiences: