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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.

UniversityWhat kind of medical work experience do they prefer?
AberdeenRelevant hospital or general practice experience is very useful, but there are often difficulties obtaining this. What Aberdeen are looking for is an understanding of what a career in medicine entails, and that your perceptions aren't just based on ER or Casualty! In addition, you should list all your voluntary work activities and also paid employment, expanding on what you have learnt from it in your personal statement.
BartsBarts strongly recommend that candidates have explored what a career in medicine entails and that this is reinforced by work experience. The Barts interview will explore your understanding of the realities of a career in medicine. They recognise the challenge of obtaining work experience and a period of volunteering in a caring role can be equally as valuable.
BirminghamBirmingham do not require you to have shadowed doctors but you must have volunteered/worked in a healthcare environment (i.e. nursing home, hospice) where you can observe the work of healthcare professionals. They do expect that the time spent is indicated in your personal statement. They are more likely to be reassured of your commitment if you offer a combination of around two full weeks of experiences.
Brighton and SussexBSMS 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.
BristolAt Bristol, you are expected to have a minimum of two weeks work experience in a care setting.
CambridgeTo 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. Cambridge aren’t prescriptive about how this is obtained, recognising the widely differing opportunities available.
CardiffCardiff 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.
DundeeDundee require you to demonstrate knowledge of, and commitment to, medicine. They encourage up to two weeks of medically-related work or shadowing experience.
EdinburghEdinburgh expect you to demonstrate a clear understanding of what a career in medicine entails. A deeper understanding can be achieved by appropriate work experience or work shadowing, as evidence of an informed decision to apply for a medical programme. The Admissions Committee recognises that not all applicants have equal opportunities to gain such experience. If it is not possible to get any work experience in a hospital then other alternatives include working in a nursing home, caring for the disabled or volunteer work.
ExeterWork experience is not part of Exeter's standard entry requirements and therefore they state that whether you have work experience or not, you are very welcome to apply to the programme.
GlasgowFor Glasgow, obtaining work experience in a medical setting is not necessary to study or obtain entry to 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 YorkThere is no prescribed pre-application experience for applicants to HYMS, 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. They also advise that you explore both the positive and negative aspects of a medical career through talking to doctors and other healthcare professionals. They will expect you to demonstrate that you understand, and are committed to, teamwork and the social context of healthcare.
ImperialImperial 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.
KeeleIf 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.
King'sKing's would normally expect that you will have undertaken some voluntary work experience in a caring/health environment and/or observation in a medical clinical setting. It is important for applicants to have a realistic appreciation of what a career as a health professional involves. Any voluntary contribution to your community is also taken into account, (for example, volunteer work in a care home). They look for evidence that you have worked in a setting where you can interact with the general public - for example, in a pharmacy, check-out or restaurant.
LancasterAt Lancaster, 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. They are more interested in what you have learned from your work and voluntary experiences, than in the details about where and when they occurred. Relevant experience in a healthcare environment is important but you can also draw on non-healthcare work experience, if you can relate the skills you developed to your chosen career. You could also draw upon your life experiences, hobbies and interests in a similar way.
LeedsLeeds state that normally you should be able to report some direct experience of either hospital or community medical practice. You should explain your work experience in your personal statement, and at your interview you'll have an opportunity to talk about your experience, your emotional response to it, what it has taught you and what you have gained from it. If attempts to gain work experience have been unsuccessful, there should be some reference to this contained within your personal statement. They also give a few examples of the kind of work experience candidates have had, in no order of importance: shadowing hospital doctors; shadowing members of the primary healthcare team; working in a pharmacy; shadowing radiographers, community nurses, physiotherapists.
LeicesterLeicester state that 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.
LiverpoolLiverpool advises that students follow the Medical School Council's guidelines for work experience, which identifies the core values, skills and attributes needed to be a doctor. The statement should help applicants prepare for their application to medical school by giving them an outline of what skills, values and attributes might be tested.
ManchesterManchester requires voluntary caring work experience, but it does not need to be in a clinical setting. Shadowing doctors in a hospital/GP setting is not essential or considered to be a substitute for voluntary caring work experience.
NewcastleAt Newcastle, their emphasis is on applicants being able to show a commitment to caring. This can be accomplished in a number of ways: volunteering in an elderly care home; volunteering in a hospice; volunteering in a nursery or helping someone less fortunate. They state that candidates shouldn't be deterred from applying as long as they can demonstrate that they are a committed and caring individual.
NorwichIf students are invited for interview, you are required to complete their Work Experience Form. In this, you're required to provide details of two experiences that have most informed your decision to study Medicine, (for example, but not limited to; voluntary work, ‘shadowing’ a health care professional, paid employment, or personal experience caring for others).
NottinghamNottingham expect you to have some form of medical work or voluntary experience to enable you to understand the profession you are entering. Work experience should include: at least speaking to your GP to understand the positives and negatives of a career in medicine if you are unable to obtain work experience; experience in a more caring setting – a hospice, care home, club, society or similar. This will allow you to observe more long-term interactions between people and the skills required in the roles. If you are working in a care home or hospice, consider the patient’s position and their requirements and needs and how these may be met by carers.
OxfordOxford state that while some work experience in hospitals is theoretically desirable, they do appreciate that it can be very difficult to arrange and they 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).
PlymouthPlymouth 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.
Queen'sQUB state that there should be evidence of commitment and motivation in your personal statement. This should include evidence of what the candidate has done to find out about Medicine as a career. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways including: opportunities for observational experience in a clinical setting, attending medical careers conferences, or undertaking voluntary work in a care setting. 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.
SheffieldSheffield state that applicants are normally expected to have undergone a period of work experience, but there's no set duration. They recognise that it is not always possible for students to obtain work placements in a medical environment given the limited availability of volunteer placements in hospitals and similar clinical settings. However, in addition to shadowing a GP or other medical practitioner, there are many other areas related to medicine in which you can gain experience, including: paid or voluntary work experience in a residential care home, hospice or similar; working in a youth centre or working with young children; participating in community volunteering schemes; working with a diverse range of people (whether on a paid or voluntary basis). They state that participatory work experience (not simply observing, but a 'hands on' role) is extremely valuable.
SouthamptonSouthampton state that you need to show you have learnt from experiences of interacting with people in health or social care settings - this could be helping to look after an ill family member or friend or could be voluntary/paid work or work shadowing. They acknowledge that it can be difficult to obtain experience in a hospital setting so you could work/volunteer in a nursing home, homeless shelter, local hospice, work with people with special needs or a youth group.
St AndrewsSt Andrews state that applicants 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 local hospice or through working with people who have ill-health or a disability.
St George'sSt George's state that you will be required to demonstrate insight into Medicine through relevant work/voluntary experience at interview. They expect you to have experience in healthcare and non-healthcare settings and demonstrate insight into transferable skills such as: communication, patience, accuracy, team work, leadership and perseverance. Your experience could include: 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.
UCLUCL look for previous experience (both personal and through work experience or volunteering), 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.

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