Medical School Requirements: Medicine Work Experience
If you’re applying to medical school, you may be wondering what kind of medicine work experience different schools look for – and this page is here to help!
Some medical schools, like St George’s, expect you to have medicine work experience in healthcare and non-healthcare settings. Others, like Dundee, specify the duration of the work experience and state that a placement should last a minimum of two weeks. This page will detail the various kinds of medicine work experience that each UK medical school suggests, so that you can tailor your application accordingly.
Please note that while we’ve tried to ensure that this information is as up to date as possible, entry requirements are subject to change so we’d recommend contacting the different universities if you’re unsure.
|University||What kind of medical work experience do they prefer?
|Aberdeen||Whilst hospital and community based clinical experience can be very useful, your primary objective should be to demonstrate an understanding of what a career in medicine entails. Try not to just list all of your work experience and voluntary activities though. Aberdeen are looking for you to tell them what you have learned about a medical career and its implications through your experiences.
|Anglia Ruskin||It 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. The purpose of the work experience is to give you an insight in to the working day of a healthcare professional, to challenge any preconceptions that you may have and give you a realistic view of the job roles you wish to pursue.
The Medical Schools Council (MSC) has guidance on work experience for applicants to medicine.
We 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 ||While it is desirable to have experience of medically related placements, Aston Medical School understands that this is not always possible and voluntary or community related work is equally valuable. It is important that you are able to demonstrate continuity of commitment for example helping in a care home, work with young children, helping at youth clubs etc over a period of time.
Aston Medical School recognise 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.
Another area where you can show ability and understanding of what medicine is all about and that you can deliver care and compassion is if you happen to have a family member that is ill or elderly with multiple health complaints. If you have been involved in their care then you will have realised that they are vulnerable, that they need to have their dignity maintained – again, many of the aspects of what is expected from a doctor.
By bringing these characteristics together and being able to demonstrate that you have them, it will show that you have the understanding of what it means to be a good doctor and to be able to cope with the study and practice of medicine.
|Barts||We strongly recommend that applicants explore what a career in medicine entails, and this is reinforced by work experience. We recognise the challenge of obtaining medical work experience – a period of volunteering in a caring role can be equally valuable.
|Birmingham||It is essential that you develop an understanding of working in a healthcare environment and have commitment and passion towards studying and practising medicine. The types of experience that we advise you to undertake include voluntary work in a nursing home, care home, hospice or hospital volunteer. We cannot advise on the amount of experience that is needed to develop your knowledge of healthcare practice. At interview, though, we will expect a sophisticated level of understanding of how personal qualities relate to the provision of effective care and support. This must be evidenced, in part, through your own experiences. Shadowing of doctors is not required and, though it has its benefits, we advise that you should participate actively in a healthcare setting.
|Brighton and Sussex||BSMS does not place requirements on the amount and type of work experience a prospective medical student should have. However, in line with the Medical Schools Council Work Experience Guidelines, they do expect candidates to: have a realistic understanding of medicine and what it means to be a doctor; have had some experience of engaging with a wide range of people and understand the realities of a caring profession and display some of the skills and attributes essential to be a successful doctor, including teamwork, leadership, good communication skills, resilience and empathy.
|Buckingham||No work experience requirements specified.
|Bristol||While not a requirement for the course, we encourage applicants to obtain a minimum of two weeks’ work experience. This enables the applicant to gain some insight into their potential vocation. Applicants may be asked to reflect on their work experience at interview. While it may be difficult to obtain clinical work experience, we encourage applicants to seek out opportunities to work with the public in a customer service role, or volunteer in a care or health environment (nursing home, local hospice, shelter for the homeless, or facility supporting people with disabilities or special needs), or a youth group. Should they be invited, applicants are required to complete a form prior to attending the interview which documents the type and duration of their work experience. This information may be used as a basis for discussion.
|Cambridge||To develop understanding of what a career in Medicine involves and your suitability for your intended profession, you’re strongly advised (though not required) to undertake some relevant work experience (either paid or voluntary) in a health or related area. We aren’t prescriptive about how this is obtained, recognising the widely differing opportunities available. Requirements for individual colleges may vary so check up-to-date admissions statements for the colleges you wish to apply to.
|Cardiff||Cardiff recognises that opportunities for certain types of work experience and participation in some non-academic activities will vary according to individual circumstances, including an applicant's cultural or socio-economic background, or the activities available in their local area. Selectors are, therefore, not prescriptive about the ways in which the non-academic selection criteria may be demonstrated.
|Dundee||Work experience is not regarded as a qualification but rather as evidence of willingness to work with people and also a commitment to medicine as a career. It also allows the applicant to gain some experience of working in a health situation, with people who may be ill, disabled, elderly or by shadowing a doctor at work. The selectors recognise that not all applicants will have the same opportunities to gain such experience, but in general terms they look for work experience lasting two weeks (or equivalent).
|Edinburgh||Evidence of a clear understanding of the realities of a career in medicine is sought. Examples include:
- work experience/shadowing with health professionals or in health promotion, for example, working in a nursing home and/or volunteering with disabled people
- talking with doctors and medical students
- attending a university open day and medical conferences/lectures
- reading medical literature.
We value quality of experience over quantity. We 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.
|Edge Hill University||No work experience requirements specified.
|Exeter||Work experience is not a part of Exeter’s formal selection process.
|Glasgow||Obtaining work experience in a medical setting is not necessary to study medicine but it is expected that candidates will have a realistic understanding of what a career in medicine entails and be aware of current issues facing the medical profession. A commitment to caring for others is also expected, which can be demonstrated through voluntary or paid work in a community setting. Any commitment to work experience or similar is expected to last beyond the offer-making stage of the admissions process.
|Hull York||There is no prescribed pre-application experience, but you should try to obtain a realistic understanding of the demands of medical training and practice. You will find it useful to get some experience in a range of caring situations, observing or working alongside healthcare staff, in either a voluntary or paid capacity.
We also advise that you explore both the positive and negative aspects of a medical career through talking to doctors and other healthcare professionals. We will expect you to demonstrate that you understand, and are committed to, teamwork and the social context of healthcare.
|Imperial||We do not specify or recommend any specific type or duration of work experience for applicants as it is more what the individual takes out of the experience rather than the placement itself. Any amount of community or volunteer work is looked upon favourably and should demonstrate evidence of working as a leader and as part of a team.
|Keele||If you are applying to Keele, you must fill out a Roles & Responsibilities form. Admissions tutors will assess the form for the following: commitment to work experience, voluntary work or exposure to a caring role; the value of the work you undertook; the level of responsibility taken in any of the above roles and an example of a situation where you did something that had an important outcome for the recipient. Roles and responsibilities can be paid or voluntary and do not have to be in the health sector. Credit can be given for caring for family members or friends if there is both a time commitment and depth of caring that goes above and beyond that which would be expected in normal family life. Although shadowing and observation may be useful in understanding the roles of a doctor, they will not give credit for it in assessing the Roles & Responsibilities form. In the space provided make sure you tell them some of the things you actually did and reflect on how you demonstrated the attributes required of a doctor, keeping in mind the values described in the NHS Constitution.
|Kent and Medway||No work experience requirements specified.
|King's||We would normally expect that you will have undertaken some work experience in a caring environment and/or observation in a Medical clinical setting. If this is not possible, we look for evidence that you have worked in a setting where you can interact with the general public, eg in a pharmacy, check-out or restaurant.
|Lancaster||Your work experience 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 would be like to ‘be a doctor’ today. It is important that you reflect on these experiences to decide whether you have the skills, values and attitudes to work in healthcare.
|Leeds||Many applicants gain insight through work experience, voluntary work, part-time employment or organised community schemes. Activities connected to or independent of the school are given equal merit. A few examples include volunteering at charity shops care homes or hospitals, helping out at church, involvement in the Scout/Guide Association, volunteering as a youth leader, coaching children, helping run a science club etc.
Personal experience in a health and social care setting can make you more confident about choosing a career in medicine. We understand that it can be difficult to get work experience at a hospital or GP surgery, but work experience in a care setting such as at hospices or homes for the elderly, or anywhere clinical care is delivered e.g. community pharmacy, chiropodists etc., is also acceptable. If attempts to gain work experience have been unsuccessful, there should be some reference to this contained within the referee's statement.
|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||No formal work experience is specified but applicants will need to address our non-academic criteria and include the demonstration of healthcare career awareness/insight, a caring contribution to the community, a critical, coherent and informative approach to communication and the values that embody and underpin good healthcare practice.
|Manchester||We require applicants to undertake some relevant work experience prior to application in order that they can gain some insight into what the role of a doctor involves.
We are not looking for a particular number of hours doing a specific type of work experience. We are trying to ascertain that you have a clear idea of what it is like to study medicine and what the role entails.
Shadowing doctors in a hospital/GP setting is not essential or considered to be a substitute for hands-on caring work experience. Applicants should be aware that we may request confirmation of their work experience.
|Newcastle||We realise that identifying suitable work experience in a primary and/or secondary care setting can be difficult.
At Newcastle our emphasis is on our applicants being able to show a commitment to caring. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, for example.
- volunteering in an elderly care home
- volunteering in a hospice
- volunteering in a nursery
- helping someone less fortunate
There are many ways you can demonstrate to us that you are a committed and caring individual and these can be explored further at interview.
|Norwich||All applicants are advised to have some people focused experience of providing care. This will allow them to demonstrate that they understand the realities of working in a caring profession and are developing the values, attitudes and behaviours essential to being a doctor, including conscientiousness, good communication skills and the ability to interact with a wide variety of people.
Work experience is essential to gain a realistic understanding of medicine and the physical, organisational and emotional demands of the career.
Applicants should be able to demonstrate an awareness of the NHS Constitution and its core values and key principles.
If invited to interview, you are required to bring with you our work experience form.
|Nottingham (Lincoln pathway too)||You should have ongoing voluntary work experience in a care related setting in your 'home' country or to have ongoing volunteering experience helping disadvantaged groups or paid employment in a job working with the general public. You are also expected to have spoken to a doctor or doctors to ensure that you are making an informed choice about a career in medicine.
We want you to have gained an understanding of:
The realities of working in a caring profession and the skills and attitudes that are needed to be a good doctor
The needs of people who are being cared for and also the needs of their carers
Your own strengths and weaknesses and whether or not you want to be a doctor
Keeping a reflective diary will enable you to write down your experiences and what you have learnt from them.
Keeping this up-to-date at the end of each work experience session will help you to remember your experiences and will provide you with preparation material for writing your personal statement and attending for interview.
|Oxford||All applicants are free to make reference to skills or experience acquired in any context to date when trying to address our selection criteria: sometimes applicants refer to voluntary work and other extra-curricular activity, but many forms of evidence can help demonstrate to tutors that an applicant has tried to make an informed decision regarding his/her own suitability to study Medicine.
While some work experience in hospitals is theoretically desirable, we do appreciate that it can be very difficult to arrange and we therefore have no requirement for it. Any form of voluntary work would be beneficial in the context of applying for Medicine (such as helping out in a hospital, at an old people's home, St John's Ambulance, or work with a charity or overseas agency).
|Plymouth||Plymouth do not ask for any work experience. Once at the interview stage, however, they state that applicants may find some form of experience useful to draw upon when answering questions. but they do not make any specific requirements.
|Queen's||It is accepted that it can be difficult for candidates to have equal access to clinical work experience and therefore it is not specified as a requirement for admission. Applicants are encouraged to obtain caring experience whether through volunteering or in paid employment as this is valuable in making informed decisions on career options.
|Sheffield||We do not specify the exact sort of work experience you should do or how much work experience you should have because it depends on what is available where you live. It should however be something within a caring environment. Some applicants may have experience of shadowing hospital staff or GPs but if this is not available to you try doing some voluntary work in a local hospice or working with children with disabilities. We want to see what you have gained from your work experience - that you are able to communicate with people, have a caring nature and are able to work as part of a team.
|Southampton||As part of their non-academic admissions criteria, Southampton state that students should have reflected on and learnt from life experiences (this may include work experience, paid employment and personal experiences both in and outside health and social care settings).
|St Andrews||Applicants should have gained work or shadowing experience in a caring or health environment, including hospitals, GP surgeries, nursing homes or local hospices, or by working with people who have ill health or a disability.
|St George's||You will be required to demonstrate insight into Medicine through relevant work/voluntary experience at interview.You must also provide references for each piece of work/relevant experience you intend to present at interview. Undertaking relevant work experience and gaining insight from such activities helps you to decide whether Medicine is the right choice for you.We expect applicants to have a combination of experience in both healthcare and non-healthcare settings. You should be able to demonstrate why these experiences are relevant to an application for Medicine. Such experience could include, but is not limited to, participation in the following:
- Paid/unpaid voluntary placements
- School, college or university societies
- Full or part-time employment
- The Guides, Scouts, Red Cross or similar organisations.
- Shadowing a healthcare professional
- Gap year experience
- Caring for a sick relative or first-hand experience of illness
- It is good to have a broad range of experiences in a variety of settings, including hands-on healthcare experience where possible, in order to gain insight into different aspects of skills and qualities needed by a medical student.
As a result, you should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of your own abilities and limitations
- explain what you have learned and what you have contributed
We expect you to demonstrate insight into transferable skills such as: communication, patience, accuracy, team work, leadership and perseverance. You will also need to be able to relate those to your application for Medicine. Evidence that you have made a consistent effort to participate in such experience as a regular commitment is preferred.If invited to interview, you will be required to provide references for any formal work experience you have carried out within the last 2 years. This is not a character reference and should only state dates, hours worked and duties undertaken.
|Sunderland||All applicants who meet the minimum academic requirements will be issued with a roles and responsibilities form. The form will seek evidence of commitment to work experience, voluntary work, exposure to a caring or supportive roles, the value of the work/role you undertook, the level of responsibility taken in any of the above roles, an example of a situation where you did something that had a significant beneficial outcome for another person and any exceptional achievements or circumstances.
We don’t give credit simply for titles, naming programmes that you have completed, listing shadowing opportunities given to you or anything you watched somebody else do.
|UCL||Work experience (both personal and through work experience or volunteering) is desired, particularly if it has involved contact with the healthcare profession or laboratory work, or if the candidate has been involved with the sick, disabled, very young or elderly, and, importantly, is able to reflect on their experiences.
We seek to verify the work experience placements of a sample of applicants. It would therefore be advisable for applicants to obtain references or letters confirming completion of a work placement and to keep these ready to submit if requested, as well as for their own records.
A table/list summarising any work experience or volunteering undertaken is often requested. Candidates should not, however, submit these before they are requested. It is our preference that work experience placements be named where possible, rather than making very generic references (for example “a local hospital” or “a charity”).
|UCLan||The UCLan admissions team thinks that it is beneficial for applicants to undertake hands-on work experience in a caring role, so that you are aware of what a career caring for people may involve. Work experience and/or volunteering can take many forms; from mentoring young children, helping elderly members of the community with shopping, through to helping in a hospice, or working with disadvantaged groups. Work shadowing might involve following doctors or other health professionals observing their roles in providing patient care.