Many clinical-based work experience opportunities begin from age 16. Explore avenues for securing work experience and what to expect from these volunteering and clinical placements.

Why Do I Need Medical Work Experience At 16?

There is no doubt that medicine is a competitive degree, increasingly so in recent years. Many aspiring medical students are now considering early application preparations to get as much experience as possible.

However, starting to build clinical work experience before 16 years old may not be particularly beneficial, if clinical exposure is the primary aim, given that many hospital-based opportunities require students to be a minimum of 16 years old for full clinical experience. 

All UK Medical Schools require evidence of applicants engaging in a caring or service role within healthcare or a related field. As such, medical work experience is pivotal for application success.

It is not only important for your medical applications but also as a means for both personal and professional growth. There are multiple benefits of beginning to explore medical work experience opportunities at 16: 

  • Early exploration may spark your interest in particular specialities prior to medical school, nurturing early interest
  • Immersion in the healthcare environment offers useful insights into professional dynamics and workplace operations
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone through medical work experience fosters confidence and independence. Both are crucial skills in medical school and beyond! 
  • Beyond academics, communication, empathy, and leadership skills can be developed through your work experience placements

Work Experience Options For 16-year-olds

Medical work experience opportunities for 16-year-olds are almost endless, each opportunity offering unique benefits. Regardless of the role, whether volunteering or clinically-based, you will gain valuable insights into various medical careers and begin to develop crucial skills for working in the professional world. 

Clinical placements

Most clinical placement opportunities begin at 16 years old. These placements are essential for your medical application and are likely to form a large basis of your medical school interviews. Securing these placements can be challenging, so it is crucial to reach out to doctors or your local GP practices early.

The earlier you get into contact, the longer you have to secure a placement and the more flexible you can be with timings – another essential component for securing placements in the healthcare sector!

Another good way to gain insights into a wide range of medical careers is through work experience programmes run by certain hospitals.  The King’s Work Experience programme offers one-to-five-day clinical and non-clinical work experience placements with assigned mentors to match your medical interests. 

If you are struggling to find work experience, click here to explore our top tips for applying to medical work experience. 

Voluntary placements

Voluntary placements, even if not directly in the healthcare field, can be an invaluable experience to help you develop crucial skills extending beyond the classroom. They are equally as important for your medical application, demonstrating your commitment to helping others. 

You are more likely to find voluntary opportunities in areas such as: 

What Clinical Activities Can I Take Part In As A 16-year-old?

At age 16, work experience usually involves more hands-on participation, allowing you to engage in numerous clinical tasks and activities compared to when you were 14 or 15.

This may make the experiences more stimulating and beneficial for you, facilitating active learning through direct involvement in hospital tasks.  

Tasks and activities you may be involved in during your clinical work experience placements could include, but are not limited to:

  • Surveying patients in a ward to discover what their experiences are 
  • Analysis of existing data, including data collected from surveys 
  • Updating communication materials. In hospitals, these may include things like the pages of websites, leaflets or noticeboards
  • Help to make patients’ beds on the ward and help them to find their way around the wards
  • Shadow a nurse or healthcare assistant as they both take and record some simple measurements from patients including their blood pressure and heart rate
  • Observing routine procedures or investigations, including minor surgical procedures
  • Talking to patients and escorting them between different areas of the hospital

Any tasks involving direct patient contact will also require consent from the patient. A doctor should be with you at all times during your placement, however, so don’t worry too much about this as they will help you to obtain verbal consent from patients beforehand. 


Boost Your Medicine Application By Volunteering

Award-winning charity Kissing it Better (KiB) facilitates virtual and face-to-face volunteering experiences supporting older people

Register Here

Can 16-year-olds Receive Payment For Their Work?

Work experience in the NHS will not include payment for students. Similarly, if you decide to pursue a volunteering role, you will not be paid for your time.

There are some paid caring/service roles available to 16-year-olds, so if you are interested in a paid role, then look into these over volunteering or shadowing roles. As a young worker of 16 to 17-years-old, you are entitled to at least £5.28 per hour. 

Additional Rules And Guidelines

Employers should be mindful when working with minors to avoid overworking them or violating restrictions on child employment.

During school holidays, 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 8 hours on weekdays and Saturdays
  • a maximum of 2 hours on Sunday

During term, 15 to 16-year-olds can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week. This includes:

  • a maximum of 2 hours on school days and Sundays
  • a maximum of 8 hours on Saturdays


How Much Work Experience Do I Need For My Medical Application? 

There is no minimum requirement for the number of work experience placements or hours of work experience for UK medical applications. In most cases, a suitable amount of work experience would be around 2 weeks, however, this varies depending on the type of work experience etc! Aim for a broad range of work experience placements so you have plenty to write about in your personal statement and talk about in interviews!

Do I Need A DBS Check For My Work Experience Placements? 

When you are on your work experience placements you will be supervised at all times so there is no need for you to complete a DBS check. On volunteering placements, particularly those working with children under the age of 16, you are likely to be required to carry out a DBS check. In most cases, this will be carried out through the organisation you are volunteering with. 

Do I Need To Make Notes From My Work Experience Placements? 

Notes from your work experience are highly useful for interview preparation leading up to your Medical School Interviews. Every medical interview includes at least one question about your work experience, whether that be what you found most interesting, what skills you learnt or just your reflections on your work experience. 

Taking notes is essential to be able to answer these questions well as it is unlikely you will be able to remember every detail from your work experience placements! Click here to read some work experience questions we have compiled that you may be asked in your medical interviews. 


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