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Medical Schools like to see work experience in the form of a volunteering placement because it’s long-term, which shows your commitment and motivation. It will also give you plenty to talk about in your Personal Statement and at your interview.

What Counts As Volunteering?

Volunteering is an invaluable experience, both in terms of getting into Medical School and developing your own skills.

Some Medical Schools prefer work experience to be healthcare-related, but some don’t. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have eased their requirements to reflect the fact that it’s very difficult to get experience in a clinical setting at the moment.

In volunteering, you can build the key skills that are needed to study Medicine, including teamwork and communication. Keep a diary to reflect on what you’ve learned, and this will be useful when you’re writing your Personal Statement and preparing for interviews.

A popular form of volunteering is working in a care home with elderly patients. You could help the staff to serve food, organise games and activities, or simply spend time with some of the patients.

If you’re finding in-person volunteering opportunities hard to access in your area, there are also opportunities to volunteer remotely.

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How Long Should I Volunteer For?

The best volunteering placements are long-standing roles that allow you to develop skills over time and show your commitment. This could involve visiting a care home every week for six to 18 months, for example.

Long-term volunteering allows you to build a rapport with people you see on a regular basis. This is a very rewarding experience and one which will become much more common as you progress through your training at Medical School – and beyond.

What Will I Learn From Volunteering Placements?

Volunteering will give you an important insight into the realities and challenges of healthcare.

You’ll build relationships with people from different generations and backgrounds – and you’ll develop other interpersonal skills such as empathy, which are vital for any Doctor.

There may be placement-specific skills you develop too, such as record taking or caring responsibilities.

How Do I Arrange Volunteer Placements?

If you’re trying to secure a volunteering placement, you could:

You can also contact care homes, charity shops and other organisations in your local area to see if they need volunteers.

How Can I Make The Most Of Volunteering?

Whatever the volunteering role, try to extrapolate anything that you feel is relevant to your Medical School application.

As always, reflection is the key – so make sure you note down what you’ve learned or observed as you go along. This will make it easier to review everything and pick out important points when you’re working on your application.

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