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COVID-19 has interrupted a lot of opportunities to secure work experience in healthcare settings – but there are some clever ways you can get around this and still develop valuable skills for your Medicine application.

What Do Universities Expect Now?

Work experience requirements have generally relaxed to accommodate the fact that COVID-19 has put a stop to many clinical placements. Most Medical Schools won’t penalise you for not having recent healthcare-related work experience, because they understand that it’s been difficult to arrange.

However, this doesn’t mean you can give up and forget about work experience altogether.

You have a great opportunity to be creative with your work experience! As long as you can reflect on what you’ve learned and explain how it has helped you prepare for a career in Medicine, you can make almost any experience relevant.

When looking for other ways to get relevant work experience, you should go for opportunities that will:

  • Give you people-focused experience
  • Provide insight into the realities of caring for others
  • Help you to develop the skills and values needed to become a Doctor, such as teamwork, leadership, communication, the ability to interact with different people, and beyond
  • Give you a realistic understanding of the physical and emotional demands of a career in Medicine

See what every Med School in the UK requires for work experience in our guide.

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COVID-19 Work Experience Alternatives

There are many other ways for you to get a realistic understanding of Medicine and the Doctor’s role that do not involve hospital placements or shadowing a GP. Here are a few suggestions.

Alternative: Set Up a Call

Did you have any work experience lined up before the pandemic that got cancelled? If so, try to contact the placement and see if it would be possible to set up a short phone call or video chat with a Doctor. This is a great way to find out more about working in healthcare.

Of course, Doctors are very busy, so it may not always be possible to arrange a call. If this is the case, you could try reaching out to Med students at university who can give you an insight into what Medical School is like and what to expect. You may know people who are already at Med School – but if you don’t, you could try connecting with Med students on platforms such as The Student Room or the UCAS website.

Alternative: Volunteering

Some universities will allow you to draw upon your experience in non-healthcare settings, as long as you can illustrate how the skills you used and developed there could be transferred to the role of a Doctor.

Some good examples of related volunteering opportunities include:

  • Delivering pharmacy prescriptions to the elderly/vulnerable
  • Volunteering in a care home or hospice
  • Getting involved in a local community project

During the pandemic, we also launched a Volunteering & Reflection Programme which gives you:

  • Online volunteering experience, facilitated by award-winning charity Kissing it Better
  • Access to 10 companion modules that will help you reflect on your volunteering experience and the impact you’re having
  • One year’s subscription to TMP MedSoc, so you can build a stronger application

Find out more about the programme here.

Alternative: Virtual Work Experience

In the absence of clinical work experience, there are virtual programmes available which provide an insight into working in healthcare.

Some good virtual work experience alternatives include:

Alternative: Research Programmes

Another COVID-19 work experience alternative could be to get involved with a research programme.

If you’re unable to find a research programme to join, don’t worry! You can always take the initiative to conduct your own research project – and this could take the form of a Medicine themed EPQ.

If You Don’t Have Work Experience

If you’re really struggling to obtain work experience, seek out volunteering roles in both healthcare and non-healthcare settings.

Also, think about about how skills you’ve gained in other areas of your life (e.g. a part-time job or a role helping/leading others at school) would be relevant to a career in Medicine. For your Personal Statement and your interview, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have the essential qualities of a Doctor.

You can also do plenty of research into Medicine and the role of a Doctor by exploring it online, reading books, watching/listening to digital content, and attending virtual talks or lectures.

Check our guide to work experience for more tips and advice.

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