Work experience will come up at several points of your Medical School application process, from your Personal Statement to Medical School interviews. Find out what each Medical School’s work experience requirements are – and how this has been adapted because of COVID-19 restrictions.

What Do Universities Expect From Work Experience?

Universities expect you to learn and reflect on your work experience placement – regardless of what you do. This means that a clinical placement is just as meaningful as volunteering somewhere, as long as you reflect on the experience and extract the key learning points.

Many Med Schools recognise that it’s hard to find work experience and will consider non-healthcare placements if you can show that what you learnt can be applied to Medicine.

The key thing to remember is that universities expect you to reflect on your work experience and discuss what you’ve learnt from it throughout the application process.

COVID-19 Considerations

Universities are aware that due to COVID-19, securing work experience in healthcare settings has not been possible this year. As a result, many have relaxed their work experience requirements.

However, you’re still expected to find other ways of exploring the role of a Doctor – and you need to draw upon experiences in non-healthcare settings to demonstrate you have the right skillsets to be a Doctor.


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Why Do Med Schools Like Work Experience?

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.

In normal times, universities require you to do work experience placements so that you can show them you understand what it’s really like to work in Medicine.

At the moment, work experience requirements are less strict – which gives you an opportunity to stand out with solid experience and quality reflection.

Work Experience Requirements

Find out what each Med School’s work experience requirements are, taking COVID-19 restrictions into consideration.

It’s worth noting that most universities state you won’t be penalised if you can’t secure a placement right now – but they suggest other ways to gain experience that is transferrable.

UniversityWhat kind of medical work experience do they prefer?
AberdeenA range of experience in primary care or a hospital. Voluntary work in care homes, hospices or special needs schools. Work experience form completed and returned at interview.

If you have had difficulty in undertaking research, (e.g. there are no medical placements available for you locally) then you should inform us of these difficulties and concentrate on researching your career in other ways.
Anglia RuskinIt is desirable for applicants to have undertaken work experience in the healthcare sector, whether that be shadowing, volunteering, paid-work or observing. Clinical and non-clinical experience are important, which could be in a nursing home, nursery, charities, voluntary organisations, pharmacy as well as GP surgeries and hospitals.

They will also consider other forms of work experience where you will have gained transferable skills such as communication, problem-solving, care, working with others and professionalism.
Aston Aston recognises that not everyone will be able to secure medical work experience and that it is possible to get the same outlook, experience and qualities by doing work experience in a non-medical environment too.

For example, working in a hospital shop will mean that you deal with all kinds of patients and people and allow you to develop your communication skills, teamwork skills, following instructions, and leadership skills.
BartsBarts strongly recommends that applicants explore what a career in Medicine entails, but they recognise the challenge of obtaining medical work experience – a period of volunteering in a caring role can be equally valuable.
BirminghamBeing unable to gain work experience during this time will not put you at a disadvantage. With that being said, Birmingham encourages applicants to use other means of understanding the work and challenges that healthcare staff undergo.
Brighton and SussexBrighton and Sussex do not place requirements on the amount and type of work experience a prospective Medical student should have. Applicants will still need insight into Medicine, the role of the Doctor and must have some sort of experience in engaging with a wide range of people. Applicants must also understand the realities of a caring profession.
BristolBristol is aware that applicants will unable to undertake work experience due to COVID-19, and will not be penalised. They encourage you to seek opportunities (such as online research) to develop an awareness of the role of a Medical Practitioner and the skills needed for this role.
BuckinghamNo specific work experience requirements.
CambridgeProspective Medical students will not be at a disadvantage due to work experience is unavailable due to COVID-19. Cambridge encourages students to do some online research about the NHS and the wider healthcare systems, the challenges they face, the structures and staff perspectives.
CardiffThe university recognises that opportunities for work experience will vary according to individual circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to show an appreciation of the length of the training programme and the career structure.
UCLanApplicants are asked to submit a transferable skills statement, which allows them to reflect on: work experience /shadowing/ voluntary work or experience in a caring role, impact and value of the work undertaken, the level of responsibility taken within this experience. The statement will be the focus for one of the stations in the multiple-mini Interview.
DundeeDundee recommends applicants check out virtual alternatives to work experience such as Observe GP, designed to support aspiring Medics in making informed career choices and in preparing their application for Medical School.
Edge Hill UniversityNo specific work experience is required, but students are asked to draw on personal experience as part of the Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs). This could include work experience.
EdinburghEdinburgh prefers quality of experience over quantity- they are looking for clear evidence of reflection on these experiences, showing us what personal lessons you took from them and using these to demonstrate an aptitude for Medicine.

Examples of alternatives to work experience Edinburgh recommend include ObserveGP, attending online Medical conferences/lectures as well as reading/ watching/listening to Medical-themed literature/digital content/articles.
ExeterAs we understand that it can be difficult to gain relevant work experience, this is not counted as part of entry requirements, although we encourage applicants to have an understanding of the attributes and the responsibilities required to be a great doctor, however you are able to gain this.
GlasgowThere is no mandatory requirement for Medical work experience, but candidates must have a sound understanding of the role and responsibilities of Medical professionals.
Hull YorkHull York do not expect prescribed pre-application experience, but you should try to obtain a realistic understanding of the demands of medical training and practice.
ImperialWork experience in a healthcare setting is strongly favoured.
KeeleDue to COVID-19, applicants are not expected to have any experience in a healthcare setting. Keele will not give any credit for such experience in the scoring of the roles & responsibilities (R+R) form.

Experience to write about on the R+R form can come from any type of experience, the main focus is what kind of things you do that demonstrate a commitment to helping and supporting others.
Kent and MedwayIf applicants have not had an opportunity to undertake NHS work placements, Kent and Medway will take into consideration other relevant experience.
King'sWhere it is not possible to secure work experience in a Medical clinical setting, applicants should demonstrate evidence that they have worked in a setting where they have interacted with the general public, e.g. in a pharmacy or restaurant.

It is important for applicants to have a realistic appreciation of what a career as a health professional involves.
LancasterLancaster state that applicants do not need to have shadowed Doctor - voluntary or caring roles are just as valuable in demonstrating your commitment to improving the lives of others. Applicants must be able to explain the relevance of their experience to a career in Medicine.
LeedsLeeds understand that it is difficult to get work experience at a hospital or GP surgery and will accept work in a care setting such as a hospital or homes for the elderly. They will also accept work experience where clinical care is delivered, such as within a community pharmacy, chiropodist, etc.
LeicesterHealthcare-related work experience is not required, Leicester is more interested in understanding what applicants have learnt from any life experience.
LiverpoolIt is advised that applicants, as a minimum, read the ‘statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine’ and ‘work experience guidelines for applicants to medicine’. In response to COVID-19 ‘Guidance on gaining relevant work experience to study medicine during the pandemic’ has been created.
ManchesterManchester requires applicants to undertake some relevant work experience in order to gain insight into what the role of a Doctor involves.
NewcastleEmphasis on applicants being able to show a commitment to caring which can be accomplished in a number of ways other than in a hospital or general practice setting, such as volunteering in an elderly care home, hospice, nursery or helping someone less fortunate. Newcastle is also interested in individuals who have shown a commitment to working as part of a team over a prolonged period of time in any area, including voluntary, sports, other extra-curricular activities.
NorwichNorwich encourages students to undertake people-focused work experience to get insight into suitability to the profession. Experience may include work experience in a health care organisation, a regular commitment as a volunteer in a care-related setting, or paid employment as a health care assistant or similar.
Nottingham (Lincoln pathway too)It is not expected for applicants to have work experience as a result of the ongoing pandemic - applications will not be negatively affected. Instead, they would advise that you speak to someone working within the NHS to ensure you are making an informed choice about your career in Medicine.
OxfordApplicants are free to make reference to any experience in any context to show how they are a suitable candidate. Examples of experience could be voluntary work and other extra-curricular activities. It is important to demonstrate your suitability for Medicine.
PlymouthNo specific work experience requirements.
Queen'sNo specific work experience requirements.
SheffieldSheffield expects applicants to undertake work experience that allows you to understand the complex nature of a Doctor's role and to demonstrate you have the right skillset. They are aware it is difficult to obtain work experience in a healthcare setting, so will accept experience in other areas related to Medicine. For example, participating in community volunteering schemes or working in a residential care home.
SouthamptonCompletion of formal work experience or volunteering is not specified. However, applicants are expected to demonstrate what they have learned from their experiences of interacting with people in health or social care settings.
St AndrewsApplicants should have gained work or shadowing experience in a caring or health environment. This does not have to be in a hospital or GP surgery but could be in a nursing home or hospice or through working with people who have ill health or disability. They encourage applicants to check out the Medical School Council's guidance on gaining experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
St George'sSt. George's understand that it is difficult to undertake work experience at the moment, and will relax their work experience requirements for prospective applicants. However, they do expect you to have an understanding of the realities of working as a healthcare professional and that demonstrate the necessary skills to be a Doctor.
SunderlandThe roles and responsibilities form does not need to include work experience exclusively in the health sector - it can include other paid or voluntary work. Credit may be given for caring of family and friends if there are a time commitment and depth of caring that goes beyond what is expected in normal family life.
UCLUCL has never required clinical work experience of a specific duration of time spent completing work experience. With that being said, they do recommend applicants read the Medical School Council's work experience guidance in the time of COVID-19.
WarwickAll applicants must have completed two weeks (70 hours) full-time work experience across a minimum of two placements in the last four years. Experience should be in a healthcare environment, ideally the NHS and of direct hands-on care of people/patients (not family/friends) with healthcare needs.

Discussing Work Experience

As part of your interview prep, you may want to refresh your understanding of what each university’s work experience requirements are, so you know what to focus on when preparing to discuss work experience at interview.

The table above will help you understand what each Med School is looking for – but make sure you check out our work experience interview questions for advice on how to answer popular questions on this topic.

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