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You might assume that medical work experience is an essential part of your Medicine application – but many Med Schools have recently relaxed their work experience requirements. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped most clinical placements from happening. However, there are still opportunities for you to get relevant experience outside of clinical settings.

COVID-19 and Medical Work Experience

Clinical work experience placements are often difficult to obtain – and they have become even more difficult to access during the pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that all opportunities for work experience have stopped.

You could still do some volunteering, take on a research project, or look for a remote opportunity, for example. Check out our guide to COVID-19 work experience alternatives to discover what your options are.

Work Experience Requirements

For 2022 entry, Medical Schools have generally relaxed their requirements when it comes to work experience placements. They recognise that the pandemic has scuppered most applicants’ plans and they won’t penalise you for this.

However, they still expect you to have made an effort in other ways to, for example, research what a career in Medicine is really like and to develop essential skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication.

Find out what each Medical School’s work experience requirements are.

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Types of Medical Work Experience

Broadly speaking, there are four types of medical work experience:

You might also want to consider becoming a volunteer for an organisation like St John Ambulance, look into remote work experience schemes, or explore the possibility of work experience in a healthcare-related setting such as a pharmacy.

How To Get Medical Work Experience

The best way to get medical work experience is to ask – and to be persistent. If you want to shadow a GP, you’ll need to ask a lot of practices and follow up with them. If you want to get a hospital placement, you’ll need to apply with a few Trusts. It takes a lot of organisation and patience, so try to start as early as you can.

Of course, during the pandemic, hospital and GP placements are even more difficult to access than usual – so you may want to consider alternative opportunities like volunteering instead.

Valuable Medical Work Experience

When it comes to work experience, quality is more important than quantity.

The real value in your work experience is the way you reflect upon it when writing your Personal Statement and answering work experience questions at interview. Med Schools don’t just want a list of placements or tasks that you’ve completed – they want to know what you learned from your experiences.

With the right reflection, volunteering can be just as useful as a clinical placement.

Tips for Reflecting on Work Experience

  • Take notes every day to help you remember what you observed
  • At the end of each day, reflect on what you saw and what you learned
  • When the placement is over, revisit your notes & reflections and add to them
  • Review your notes before you write your Personal Statement
  • Read everything again while you prepare for your interview
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