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Work Experience - What You Need To Know?

This article is written by Olivia who will be starting Medicine as a graduate this September at King’s College London!

Work experience is a very important component of the medicine application, as it gives you the chance to explore exactly what being a doctor will entail and allows you to show the admissions tutors your commitment to medicine. In this blog post I’ll take you through what sort of work experience you should get and how you should write about it on your application.

What sort of experience should I have?

  • People often think that it is vital to have weeks and weeks of work shadowing various doctors in a hospital. Shadowing work is important so that you can see the day to day life of a doctor and understand how the NHS works and is something I definitely recommend trying to get if you can. I spent a week shadowing an orthopaedic surgeon and another week shadowing a consultant in gynaecology.

  • These were incredible experiences and allowed me to witness important aspects of being a doctor, such as good communication with your patients and working in a team with various other healthcare professionals.

  • What is even more valuable however, is some long-term volunteering of some kind. For me, I volunteered on the ward at a palliative care hospice for well over a year before applying to medical school. Not only will this allow you to get lots of patient contact, this will really show the admissions tutors you are dedicated.

How do I get work experience?

  • If like me, you have no family members working in a healthcare setting, work experience can be a bit tricky to obtain, but it is definitely not impossible!

  • For shadowing work, I suggest checking online to see if your local hospital has a scheme allowing work experience students to shadow on the wards (although you may not be allowed to see any surgery if you are below 18).

  • For voluntary roles, the best way is to just ring up local care homes/hospices and ask if you can lend a helping hand. More often than not they’ll welcome your help!

How should I write about my work experience?

  • Your work experience should form a key paragraph within your personal statement. However, you will soon come to realise that you are quite limited for words when writing this.

  • The important thing is to talk about what you learnt from your work experience rather than listing what you did. There is no point listing all of the things you saw/doctors you shadowed, rather talk about how this helped you better understand what it means to be a doctor.

  • For example, working in a palliative care hospice, I was often with patients at their post vulnerable times. This helped me to improve my listening skills and taught me how to empathise effectively to support the patient and their families, which is an important skill that doctors need to have.

Be sure to download our free work experience logbook, where you can record your different experiences and what you’ve learnt from them. Many students have used this logbook before and have all said that it helped them so much when they were writing their personal statements.

I hope this advice helps and I wish you the best of luck with your applications this October!

As always, please email for any advice!

This post was written by Olivia (@oliviathemedic) and reviewed by Dr Pooja Devani (@step2med).

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