Work experience is more about quality than quantity. Universities expect you to have learned from and reflected on your work experience – regardless of what you did. This means that volunteering can be just as meaningful as a clinical placement, as long as you effectively reflect on the experience and extract key learning points.
Many universities recognise that it can be hard to find medical work experience (particularly during the pandemic) and will consider non-healthcare placements if you’re able to show that what you learned can be applied to Medicine.
The key thing to remember is that universities want you to reflect on your work experience and discuss what you learned from it throughout the application process.
Med Schools are aware that due to COVID-19, securing work experience in healthcare settings has been very difficult recently. As a result, many have relaxed their work experience requirements.
However, you’re still expected to find ways of exploring what a career in Medicine is really like. In the absence of clinical placements, you’ll also need to draw upon any experiences that demonstrate you have the right skills to become a Doctor, such as volunteering or a part-time job where you deal with the public.
Medical Schools like to see that you’ve done work experience because it shows that you’re really motivated to study Medicine – and that you’ve done your research into what being a Doctor is like.
At the moment, Med School work experience requirements are generally less strict due to the pandemic. This gives you an opportunity to stand out with quality reflection on alternative steps that you’ve taken to do your research.
This table shows what Med Schools are currently saying about work experience on their websites.
It’s worth noting that most universities state that you won’t be penalised if you can’t secure a medical placement right now due to the pandemic – but they do suggest other ways to gain experience that is transferrable. Many of them also recommend consulting The Medical Schools Council’s latest guidance on work experience.
|University||What kind of medical work experience do they prefer?|
|Aberdeen||Relevant hospital or GP experience is very useful, and you need to show an understanding of what a career in Medicine entails. They say that if you’ve had difficulties obtaining work experience, describe these in your Personal Statement and discuss other ways that you have attempted to research a career in Medicine.|
|Anglia Ruskin||It is desirable for applicants to have work experience in the healthcare sector. Clinical and non-clinical experiences are important - which could be in a nursing home, charity, voluntary organisation or pharmacy, as well as GP surgeries and hospitals. They also consider other forms of work experience where you have gained transferable skills such as communication and problem solving.|
|Aston||As standard, applicants are not required to provide evidence of healthcare work experience in their Personal Statement or in answer to interview questions. However, they say it is important that Medicine applicants have a realistic view of what is involved. They recognise that not everyone will be able to secure healthcare work experience, and that it is possible to gain valuable, relevant work experience in a non-medical environment.|
|Barts||They strongly recommend that candidates have explored what a career in Medicine entails and that this is reinforced by work experience. The interview will explore your understanding of the realities of a career in Medicine. They recognise the challenge of obtaining work experience and say that a period of volunteering in a caring role can be just as valuable.|
|Birmingham||If you have been unable to observe a professional delivering care or support, or have been unable to do this yourself, they say that the next best thing is a virtual experience such as Observe GP.|
|Brighton and Sussex||They do not have requirements for the amount or type of work experience that an applicant should have. However, they do expect you to have a realistic understanding of Medicine and what it means to be a Doctor, plus some experience of engaging with a wide range of people. BSMS also offers a virtual work experience course for aspiring medics.|
|Bristol||They encourage applicants to obtain a minimum of two weeks’ work experience. They understand it may be difficult to obtain clinical work experience, so applicants are encouraged to seek out opportunities to work with the public in a customer service role, or volunteer in a care/health environment or a youth group. Applicants should also seek opportunities to develop their awareness of a career in Medicine through means such as online research.|
|Buckingham||No work experience requirements specified.|
|Cambridge||To develop understanding of what a career in Medicine involves and your suitability for it, you’re strongly advised (though not required) to undertake relevant work experience, either paid or voluntary, in a health or social care organisation. They’re mindful that the pandemic may prevent you from completing work experience in a care or medical setting, and this will be taken into account. Applicants are encouraged to do some online research about the NHS and wider healthcare systems.|
|Cardiff||They understand that the pandemic has impacted many people’s ability to undertake work experience, and also that opportunities for certain types of work experience will vary according to an applicant’s background, including socio-economic, cultural and geographical circumstances. This will be considered when reviewing your Personal Statement. As alternatives to in-person work experience, you should look at useful online resources and explore volunteering opportunities. A part-time job or a role supporting others in school, sports etc is another good way to show core attributes.|
|Dundee||They recommend checking The Medical Schools Council’s guidance to support applicants who are seeking relevant work experience during the pandemic. They also suggest virtual alternatives such as Observe GP.|
|Edge Hill University||No work experience requirements specified.|
|Edinburgh||Applicants should have an understanding of the realities of a career in Medicine. This could be gained via work experience and shadowing with health professionals or in health promotion, as well as talking to Doctors and medical students, attending university open days and medical conferences/lectures, and reading/watching/listening to medical content. They value quality of experience over quantity.
|Exeter||Work experience is not part of their standard entry requirements - and they say that whether you have work experience or not, you are welcome to apply.|
|Glasgow||Work experience in a medical setting is not necessary, but it is expected that candidates will have at least spoken to a Doctor about a career in Medicine or have researched it through reading careers books or newspapers. An awareness of current issues facing the medical profession is expected, which can be obtained from newspapers, journals and the internet. An interest in caring for others is also expected, which can be demonstrated through voluntary/paid work in a community setting.|
|Hull York||They require applicants to demonstrate experience of providing people-focused care through relevant work experience. Applicants are advised to have a range of experiences, either voluntary or paid, in healthcare settings and other areas that require interaction with people. Clinical work experience is not an essential criteria for applying to Medicine.|
|Imperial||They recognise that it has been more difficult for many people to gain work experience in healthcare settings due to the pandemic. You may need to look at alternative resources such as online platforms to gain insight into clinical work, or gain experience in another setting where you have interacted with the general public and/or worked successfully within a team. They’re looking for future medics who have participated fully in school/college life, can reflect on experiences of society beyond their immediate environment and understand what it is like to work in a responsible, caring role.|
|Keele||A roles & responsibilities form is used to select applicants for interview. You can use the form to tell them about experiences that demonstrate your direct engagement with people in a supportive/assistive/caring role, your ability to handle responsibility and your understanding of how somebody has benefited from some help, support or care you have provided. These experiences are not expected to be medical or undertaken in formal caring settings. They say they do not give any credit for workplace shadowing, and discourage overseas work experience placements.|
|Kent and Medway||No work experience requirements specified.|
|King's||They understand the difficulties in securing work experience, due to both the pandemic and the more general inequalities of access - and state there are ways to gain useful experience without it being face to face, in a hospital or in a clinical setting. They are interested in what you have learned from whatever experience is possible (e.g. volunteering, a part-time job) and do not turn applicants away purely because they haven’t been able to obtain work experience.|
|Lancaster||It is important that you have some relevant work experience to help you decide if Medicine is the right career path for you. This does not have to be shadowing a Doctor but can be any experience (unpaid work, paid work or volunteering) within a healthcare setting that gives you an insight into what it is like to be a Doctor today. You can also draw on non-healthcare work experience, if you can relate the skills you developed to a career in Medicine.|
|Leeds||They are aware that work experience opportunities have been affected by the pandemic and will take this into account. They add that clinical work experience is not generally a requirement for applying to Medical School in any year.|
|Leicester||Medical work experience is not essential, but you should be able to demonstrate that you have undertaken some kind of work where you are able to communicate with the public.|
|Liverpool||They recommend that applicants check The Medical Schools Council’s statement on the core values and attributes needed to study Medicine, as well as their work experience guidelines for applicants to Medicine.|
|Manchester||Applicants are required to complete a Non-Academic Information Form about non-academic activities, including experience in a hands-on caring role which may or may not be medically related. They want to see that you have a clear idea of what it is like to study Medicine and what the role of a Doctor entails. They state that shadowing doctors in a hospital/GP setting is not essential or considered to be a substitute for hands-on caring work experience. Due to the pandemic, for 2023 entry you are allowed to declare work experience or activities that you intend to carry out after the October UCAS deadline, and work experience taken outside of a two-year time frame is also acceptable.|
|Newcastle||They do not have any specific work experience requirements, but at interview they will be looking for examples of how applicants have shown a commitment to caring. They understand that finding suitable work experience in a primary/secondary care setting can be difficult, but say there are many ways you can show that you are a committed and caring individual, such as volunteering.|
|Norwich/UEA||Before committing to studying Medicine, you should find out as much as you can about being a Doctor - so any experience that gives you an insight into your suitability is valuable. This could include work experience in a healthcare organisation (e.g. a hospital, hospice or primary care setting), volunteering in a care-related setting, or paid employment as a healthcare assistant or similar. If you’re invited to interview, you will be required to fill in a work experience form and bring it with you.|
|Nottingham (Lincoln pathway too)||Applicants are expected to have work experience which could include volunteering in a care-related setting, volunteering with disadvantaged groups, or paid employment in a job that involves working with the general public. If work experience hasn’t been possible due to the pandemic, they will be looking for knowledge of the medical profession and an understanding of the scope of the role.|
|Oxford||They are aware that hospital work experience can be very difficult to arrange, so they have no specific requirement for it. They say that any form of voluntary work is beneficial in the context of applying for Medicine. Applicants should show that they have a realistic understanding of what a medical career will involve, and that they have the potential to become effective and caring Doctors.|
|Plymouth||No work experience requirements specified.|
|Queen's||They accept that it can be difficult for candidates to have equal access to clinical work experience, so it is not specified as a requirement for admission. They also understand that obtaining work experience has been particularly difficult during the pandemic and recommend that applicants read The Medical Schools Council’s guidance.|
|Sheffield||Applicants are normally expected to have undertaken work experience to show that they have a realistic insight into the medical profession and the complex nature of a Doctor's role. They recognise that it isn’t always possible for students to obtain work experience in a medical environment and suggest looking into other areas, such as paid/voluntary experience in a residential care home or hospice, working in a youth centre or working with young children, and participating in community volunteering schemes. They say that work experience in a hands-on role is extremely valuable.|
|Southampton||Any form of work experience is valuable for a career in Medicine as you will be working with people from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. For example, retail, restaurant and bar work can provide opportunities to talk about customer service, handling problems in fast-paced environments and demonstrating initiative. However, if you can secure experience within the medical professions it can give a greater insight into the career pathway ahead of you.|
|St Andrews||They say that applicants should have work or shadowing experience in a caring or health environment. This experience can be gained in hospitals, GP surgeries, nursing homes, local hospices, or by working with people who have ill health or a disability. They recommend checking the Medical Schools Council’s guidance on gaining relevant experience during the pandemic.|
|St George's||They have chosen to relax their work experience requirements for 2022 and 2023 entry. However, they still require applicants to have an understanding of the realities of working as a healthcare professional and to show they have the necessary skills and attributes for a career in Medicine. Online resources can offer valuable insight into working in the healthcare sector.|
|Sunderland||No work experience requirements specified.|
|UCL||The ability to demonstrate and reflect on what you learned (about yourself and about Medicine) is the main factor they are looking for when assessing your work experience. There is no specific requirement for clinical work experience or a specific duration of time spent completing work experience. They understand that it is a difficult time to gain relevant experience in healthcare due to the pandemic and recommend that applicants read The Medical Schools Council’s work experience guide.|
|UCLan||Practical experience in a caring role is extremely valuable to understanding what a career in Medicine entails. Applicants who have taken paid employment may also discuss examples from their interactions with people at work. Active involvement in helping underprivileged, unwell, disabled or distressed people is valuable in gaining experience for a future career in caring. Other valuable experiences can include contending with demanding situations or going above and beyond your basic duties to help someone in a work based situation.|
|Warwick||For 2023 entry, applicants must have completed 70 hours of work experience across a minimum of two placements in the last four years (from 16/10/18 to 15/10/22). Your work experience must include experience of the healthcare environment, ideally within the NHS, and of direct hands-on care of patients or people with healthcare needs (who are not friends or family members). You must demonstrate at least two relevant but different experiences.|
As part of your interview prep, you should refresh your understanding of what each university’s work experience requirements are. This means you’ll know what to focus on when discussing your work experience at interview.
The table above will help you to understand what each Med School is looking for – but make sure you also check university websites for more detail, and have a look at work experience interview questions for tips on how to answer popular questions.
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