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Hospital placements can be difficult to obtain – and it’s become even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you do have work experience at a hospital lined up, or you’re considering it for the future, here’s a guide to what you can expect.

Why Hospital Placements?

Hospital placements provide a unique insight into life as a Doctor – but you also get to see many other healthcare professionals working under the same roof. It’s a unique opportunity.

It’s really easy for Doctors to spot which students are truly committed and passionate. The best way to stand out as someone with real potential is to get as involved as you can. You’ll find the Doctors will want to teach you more as a result.

Remember: always ask questions!

Use this as your opportunity to find out if Medicine is the right career for you. If you’re already convinced, start building the knowledge bank that will serve you throughout the application process, Medical School and eventually your career as a Doctor.

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What Will I Do During A Hospital Placement?

When you’re doing a hospital placement, the types of things you’ll get to see and do can really vary depending on the hospital. You might find yourself helping a Junior Doctor on a ward round, spending time in Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings, or observing the pharmacy department.

The most important part of a hospital placement isn’t what you do – it’s what you learn from it. Simply observing how things work and getting an insight into the reality of life as a Doctor is one of the most valuable things you can take from this experience.

Take a look at this blog to find out what one Med Student learned from their hospital placement.

How Do I Get Hospital Placements?

If you’re lucky enough to know someone who works in a hospital, ask if they can help you to arrange a placement. If not, the next port of call should be your school. You can also get in touch with the education department or postgraduate centre at your local NHS Trust.

Getting hospital placements without knowing someone can seem daunting, but don’t give up. It will look even more impressive once you get there – and the way you tackled the task will demonstrate your tenacity and commitment.

How Can I Get Extra Value From My Hospital Placements?

As well as asking questions, you must keep a diary of what you see — and most importantly, reflect on everything.

If you’ve completed a hospital placement, you can write about the experience in your Personal Statement and discuss it at interview. But don’t just give a list of what you did and when. Think about what you observed, who was involved, and what qualities (e.g. teamwork) were on display. Extrapolate wider learning points from individual cases.

Also, make sure you are familiar with the key points from a document called Tomorrow’s Doctors, created by the General Medical Council. This highlights the skills needed to make a good Doctor.

Hospital Placement Alternatives

Hospital placements are particularly difficult to access at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are other work experience opportunities that will help you enhance your Medicine application. You could look into:

Remember that most universities have adjusted their work experience requirements to account for the impact of the pandemic – and many of them state that clinical work experience is not an essential requirement.

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