If you 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 Do You Need Hospital Work Experience?

Hospital work experience provides 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 Hospital Work Experience?

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 hospital work experience 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 medical student learned from their hospital placement.

How Do I Get Hospital Work Experience?

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 work experience 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.

If you want to experience medical work in a real hospital setting this summer, learn more about InvestIN’s Medicine summer schools.

Finding Hospital Work Experience Opportunities: Tips

Gaining hospital work experience is a critical step for aspiring medical professionals. Here are some detailed tips on how to find and secure these opportunities:

Contacting Hospitals Directly

1. Research and Identify Potential Hospitals:

  • Begin by making a list of hospitals in your area or within a feasible distance. Focus on hospitals known for their teaching programs or those affiliated with medical schools, as they are more likely to offer work experience programs.

2. Prepare Your Application Materials:

  • Craft a professional cover letter and resume highlighting your interest in medicine, any relevant experience, and why you are seeking hospital work experience. Tailor your application to each hospital, demonstrating your genuine interest in their specific programs.

3. Reach Out to Volunteer Coordinators or Human Resources:

  • Contact the volunteer coordinators or human resources departments directly via phone or email. Express your interest in gaining work experience, and inquire about any available programs or opportunities.

4. Follow Up:

  • If you don’t receive a response within a week or two, follow up with a polite reminder. Persistence can sometimes make the difference, showing your enthusiasm and commitment.

Using Personal Connections

1. Leverage Your Network:

  • Utilize connections you may have within the medical field. This could include family friends, teachers, or acquaintances who work in healthcare. Personal recommendations can often open doors that formal applications cannot.

2. Attend Networking Events:

  • Participate in healthcare-related networking events, seminars, or workshops. Engaging with professionals in these settings can lead to opportunities or valuable advice on how to secure hospital placements.

3. Ask for Informational Interviews:

  • Request informational interviews with medical professionals. While the primary goal is to learn more about their career and the field, these conversations can also lead to shadowing opportunities or introductions to other professionals who can help.

Applying Through Formal Programs

1. University and Medical School Programs:

  • Many universities and medical schools offer formal hospital work experience programs for students. Check with your school’s career services or pre-med advisor for information on such programs.

2. Online Platforms and Organizations:

  • Websites like NHS Jobs (for the UK), Volunteering Matters, or other healthcare-specific job boards often list hospital work experience opportunities. These platforms can be an excellent resource for finding structured programs.

3. Formal Internship Programs:

  • Some hospitals and healthcare organizations offer formal internship programs for high school or undergraduate students interested in medicine. These programs are usually highly competitive, so ensure your application is thorough and submitted early.

4. Professional Associations:

  • Joining professional associations related to healthcare, such as the British Medical Association (BMA) or the American Medical Association (AMA), can provide access to exclusive opportunities and resources for finding work experience.

How Can I Get Extra Value From My Hospital Work Experience?

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 Work Experience Alternatives

Aside from hospital placements, there are other hospital work experience opportunities that will help you to enhance your Medicine application. You could look into:


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