Getting work experience is essential for anyone who is thinking about a career in medicine. People have different opinions about the type of work experience you should do and how much experience you need when you apply. However, as a general rule, you should get as much healthcare experience as you can before you apply to medical school.
Working in health is important as it can help you to find out if medicine is really for you, and to give you a realistic idea of what your life will be like if you become a doctor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get work experience with a doctor, but you will need experience working in a healthcare setting if you want to apply to do medicine. Below are a few examples of the type of work experience you might do.
|‘Shadowing’ involves following a doctor or team of doctors to observe what their work actually involves. This can give you a really useful insight into whether you will enjoy life as a doctor. You will often be able to observe procedures, find out about patient’s experiences and learn about their treatment.As a result, shadowing requires you to display maturity and professionalism and it is important that you are able to present yourself in this way when applying for a shadowing placement.Shadowing a doctor/healthcare professional can require a bit of legwork, however there are a number of ways which you can maximise your chances of gaining some vital experience:Indirect Contacts: Speak to your family and friends, they may know someone who is who works with healthcare professionals. This is often a great route as they may be willing to make the initial contact and if they already have a rapport with the intended person, this can increase the chances of getting a yes.Your own GP: Call your family doctor; they may be willing to allow you to shadow them for a short time, or at least be able to suggest alternatives. They may also be able to discuss medical career paths with you and provide essential knowledge for further down the line.School/College Careers Co-ordinator: If you are in school or college, your institutions advisors may have local links that you could contact.
Contact local GPs and Hospitals: It is a good idea to write to local GPs and hospital doctors (or hospital volunteering services), explaining that you are hoping to spend time shadowing doctors to learn more about a career in medicine. This way may not have a high success rate, but perseverance can pay off.
You should explain a little bit about why you would like to be a doctor and what you have done in the past (e.g. school achievements / responsibilities) and ideally enclose a CV. You might also need a reference from a teacher or employer etc. Remember to be polite and courteous at all times, regardless of how frustrated you may be with the process.
|If you are not sure how to get in touch with doctors, you can simply try general practitioners listed on the Yell website or search for your local hospital online.|
Most, if not all hospitals have a team of volunteers to help both staff and patients. Volunteers help with refreshments, show people where to go, keep patients company and provide practical support for the staff. Through this type of work, you can learn about how hospitals run and see what happens on medical wards. You can also spend lots of time with patients in a caring or supportive role, which is ideal for anyone applying to medical school.
Contact your local hospital directly to find out about volunteering opportunities or try searching our work experience database.