Why get medical work experience?

Want to stand out from the crowd? Work experience is a great way to impress admissions tutors and gives you a chance to discover what you enjoy doing.

Why is medical work experience so important?
Gaining work experience is important for potential medical students as it demonstrates that you have awareness of what working in the health service is really like. While the work is often challenging and extremely rewarding it is not always quite as glamorous as it looks on 'ER'.

It will also give you a good opportunity to develop your communication skills and experience working with a huge range of people from all sorts of different backgrounds. As well as demonstrating your enthusiasm for your career choice, they are key skills which universities will be looking for in your UCAS form.
The placement should help you to:
  • Gain a realistic awareness of the everyday realities of life in the health service
  • Acquire knowledge about your own abilities and limitations
  • Communicate well with all sorts of different people
  • Take responsibility for your learning and plan future goals
The placement should help you to learn about yourself:
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you a good communicator?
  • Do you work well in a team?
  • Did you find it easy to transfer skills learnt at school and use them effectively in the work place?
Where should I do work experience?
Work experience in healthcare will hopefully give you a valuable insight into the working lives of health professionals. Yet this does not mean that you must do it in a hospital setting. You could try a placement or volunteer in other areas, such as, a high street pharmacy, residential care or retirement home, day centre for people with physical or learning disabilities, or a doctors’ reception.

Key skills are not all gained from work experience. It is worth having a good think about everything you are involved in and you will soon discover that you have already developed some vital skills. Even looking after your younger brothers and sisters involves a huge degree of responsibility and important interpersonal and communication skills. Playing on the school sports teams can show that you are a good team worker and that you have (hopefully) developed good negotiation skills and a flexible attitude to work. Any position of authority such as mentoring also demonstrates that you have leadership qualities.

A good place to start is to contact the personnel or training and development department of your local hospital to find out about whether they run their own work placement scheme.

It is also worth checking out Volunteering England as they offer some useful advice about how you can track down health care work experience.

Alternatively see what programmes your local university has to offer such as the work experience programme at Nottingham University.
Related Articles