Work Experience - An Update!
With the UK having been under lockdown for over five weeks, we understand that many medical students have missed out on valuable work experience opportunities that most medical schools look for when you apply. We have made a logbook for you to download to help during this particular period, as well as our existing one if you have had any experience in the past.
Here we have summarised the Medical School's Council's guidance, released April 2020.
As most doctors are focusing on the pandemic, all NHS-based volunteering, observerships and outreach opportunities have been put on hold.
Understandably, you may be worried about what this may mean for your application; it’s important to remember that the majority of first-time applicants to medicine will be in the same position, so medical schools will be aware of the lack of opportunity to gain experience and will take this into consideration regarding applications.
The Medical Schools’ Council released updated guidance in April 2020 which effectively goes through how to make the best of the current situation.
We have made summary points below for you with our own advice too, plus a free logbook to download.
1) Keep a reflective diary - both our free logbooks will help with this!
The MSC say: “Many healthcare professionals are posting online about their experience of working during the pandemic. Listen to what they have to say and reflect on this.”
We have made two reflective logbooks - the first is for any work experience or volunteering work you may have already had (download here).
The next, is for this particular period - and includes ways to reflect on things you have learnt during this time e.g. a recent news article, media post or podcast. Download this one here
2) Volunteer if you can!
Lots of guidance about this is provided on our website, examples volunteering for the NHS, the Nextdoor campaign- see our website for links.
If this isn’t possible, even helping a vulnerable neighbour with tasks such as food shopping is a fantastic way to get involved. Even though this may not count as traditional work experience, you’re still in a caring role (and used initiative) and could still talk about your experiences at an interview.
3) Use online resources
There are some free online resources available which can really help students an insight into working in the NHS. Of these resources, I’d recommend the virtual work experience course provided by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). BSMS’ course explores several different specialties, such as palliative care, surgery and psychiatry. After working their way through the modules, students are expected to write a short reflective piece, after which they can obtain a certificate of completion (which will be recognised by medical schools as work experience).
‘Observe GP’ which is an interactive platform created by The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). Their platform aims to highlight the many different aspects of working in primary care- a link to register to use Observe GP will go live on the RCGP web page on Thursday 30 April 2020 (Source: https://www.rcgp.org.uk/training-exams/discover-general-practice/observe-gp.aspx)
This allows aspiring medics to gain insights into general practice from anywhere in the UK, regardless of geography or family networks.
The platform, in many ways goes further than a work experience placement can - the videos allow viewers to watch consultations in split screen, witnessing the body language of both the patient and clinician face on. Key terminology and activities appear on screen to reinforce learning and prompt reflection. Applicants are encouraged to complete Observe GP alongside other relevant experiences whether that be volunteering in a care home or healthcare setting, informal discussions with medical professionals, reading or listening to podcasts.
For more information, contact by email: email@example.com, or Twitter: @TeamGP, or their website: rcgp.org.uk/observegp
NHS Health Careers, which gives an insight into the different careers and specialties within the health sector. It may be worth having a look at this to understand what kind of members may make up multidisciplinary teams.
The full guidance can be accessed here. Thank you to the Medical School's Council for such an informative guidance.
We hope you are keeping safe during these unprecedented times; be sure to read our other blogs which are constantly being updated as this situation unfolds.
Be sure to get in touch with an of your questions about your application or the medical school application process in general via firstname.lastname@example.org.
This piece was written by our resident medical student and tutor, Niha Hussain, and reviewed by Dr Pooja Devani @step2med.